How Celebrating Boxing Day Can Help Knock Out Addictive Behavior

Happy Boxing Day! What's that, you ask? When you take all of your holiday stress out in a boxing ring. Just kidding! (don't do that! There are much better ways to handle holiday stress). Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in the UK and Canada. It originated in the 17th century when it was customary to give tradespeople "Christmas boxes" as gratuity on the day after Christmas. Today, people celebrate Boxing Day by having a day off work, shopping Boxing day sales, watching sports events, and most importantly, continuing the tradition of giving back to others.

So why are we writing about this? To shout out to our Canadian friends! Just kidding again. Boxing Day is all about giving to others, and giving to others has quite a bit to offer when it comes to overcoming addiction. A growing amount of research supports the positive association between giving back to others and a number of benefits.

Here are a few examples of how giving helps with kicking addictive behaviors and addiction:

  • Considering the needs of others may help you maintain progress longer. Helping  has been linked to longer remission periods for substance use disorders.1 There a number of possible reasons for this. It can reduce social isolation, obsessive thinking, and provide a welcome distraction.
  • Helping those with a shared malady reaps its own set of benefits. Researchers call this the "HTP", short for the helper's therapy principle.2 We call it helping a buddy out. Whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is that science suggests finding a person to help with addictive behavior helps you too!
  • Behavioral and emotional compassion boost your wellbeing and longevity along with your health. It's "good to be good", according to research, because altruism is associated with greater well-being, longevity, and health overall. One caveat: make sure helping tasks aren't too overwhelming.3

There you have it! Now go out and celebrate Boxing Day, not in the boxing ring but by giving back.

1 Grant, Jon E., et al. "Substance use disorders in individuals with body dysmorphic disorder." The Journal of clinical psychiatry 66.3 (2005): 309. 2 Pagano, Maria E., Stephen G. Post, and Shannon M. Johnson. "Alcoholics Anonymous-related helping and the helper therapy principle." Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 29.1 (2011): 23-34. 3 Post, Stephen G. "Altruism, happiness, and health: It’s good to be good." International journal of behavioral medicine 12.2 (2005): 66-77.