For many people, the holidays are a time filled with laughter and joy. It’s a season to spend time with friends and family, gathering together to discuss how wonderful our lives have been this past year. Holiday parties and family gatherings can also bring on challenges that cause us to feel stressed or isolated. Many people are fighting severe battles to stay sober while watching their family and friends celebrate the night away. The holidays can also serve as inadvertent reminders of the time and opportunities they lost to using. Let this article be a guide to helping you stay sober and merry during this holiday season with ten helpful tips.
- Practice Self-Care
Remember you are an individual, and the treatment you need to maintain sobriety is unique to you. What makes your soul heal? Indulge in those self-care activities. It’s okay to celebrate the holiday season by taking care of YOU: treat yourself to a yoga class, enjoy a massage, or take the time to learn how to meditate. Listen to your body when it asks for a time-out. When you take care of your body instead of depleting it, you’ll feel stronger, both physically and emotionally.
- Avoid Triggers for Relapse
Some of the most potent triggers we face can come on an emotional level. Between a schedule packed with activities, the disruption of your regular routines, and an increase in demands from friends and family, it’s no wonder the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. This can make it easy for one’s feelings of shame, guilt, anger, and depression to quickly multiply. Remember, the holidays don’t have to be perfect; saying no is perfectly acceptable. It’s something you shouldn’t hesitate to do to protect yourself.
- Lean On A Support Group
The holidays can be overwhelming, so plan accordingly. If you are traveling out of the area, make sure to plan ahead by looking into 12-step meetings that you can attend wherever you’re headed. There are now mobile apps available to help locate meetings almost anywhere.
- Limit Your Time Around Family Members
Despite what we may want to think, the reality is that sometimes our family members can be our biggest triggers. From constant criticism of your life choices to strained relationships that have been simmering for years, the stress of a close-quarters holiday can be enough for us to rationalize that we are entitled to at least one drink, just for showing up and dealing with them. Spend time with the family members that bring you strength, while minimizing your time with others that may drain you.
- Rekindle Your Relationships
Rather than attending parties to indulge in food or alcohol, shift your focus to the people in attendance. Go into a party with the intention to establish real connections with people. Even if you think you have someone figured out, remember that perspectives and people change over time. You never know where you’ll find a new positive relationship.
- Focus On Others
Serving others can help ease your minds from the weight of constantly worrying about yourself. During the holidays, look for opportunities where you can volunteer your time, such as a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Spreading happiness and cheer to others goes a long way towards lasting self-healing. You know what they say: to give is to receive.
- Create New Traditions
Throw your own festive holiday party celebrating your new sober life. Invite friends from recovery, try a new recipe, and make it your own. Your new traditions might include attending a 12-step program on Christmas Day or running a marathon in a Santa suit. Recreating yourself to live a healthy and sober life allows you to take control of your future, and to create new traditions that will make you happy year after year.
- Make Sobriety Your Top Priority
Let’s be real: all holiday festivities are optional. If you do not think an event or activity is going to leave you in a positive space, skip it. There’s no shame in doing what works for you. You can always host a lunch or meet someone you care about for coffee on a less hectic day.
- Have An Escape Route
When attending events, drive yourself or make sure to have a back-up ride, just in case you need to leave the party early. It’s a fact of life: unexpected situations come up. It is always important to set up preventative measures to help you be successful if a dangerous development rears its ugly head.
- Know You’re Not Alone
Just because you are sober now, doesn’t mean you have it all together. When you feel isolated or depressed, or when you experience a craving, reach out to friends and family that have become a part of your healthy support system to share what you’re going through. You are not alone, and you do not need to suffer in silence. Turn to those you trust most so they can offer advice, provide an emotional sounding board, or just act as a listening ear.
The holidays can be a high-risk time for so many of us, but they are among us. Use these tips to refocus your attention on what matters the most during this holiday season – your sobriety. Treat this holiday season like any other day: stay active in your exercises, reach out to the people you trust, and remember to take care of yourself. The true spirit of this season is meant to be about giving and gratitude, not about presents or how many parties we can fit into our schedule. Let’s be grateful for the wonderful path to recovery that we are following with success. If you or someone you know is looking for assistance with safeguarding sobriety this holiday season, we want to be the ones to help. Reach out to Everlast Recovery Centers at 866-DETOX-25. We understand the stresses of sobriety, and we share an appreciation for second chances.