For those in the recovery community, staying sober during the holiday season can feel challenging at times, especially for those whose recovery is still quite young. We hope these 5 tips below will help you manage your sobriety throughout the holidays and allow you to start the new year as the best version of yourself.
Stick to Your Routine
The holidays can upend your routine, which can lead things around you to feel extra hectic leading to increased stress, so make an extra effort to not deviate from your schedule when possible. It will help keep you focused on recovery and prevent you from getting distracted. Also, be sure to keep in touch with your recovery community and sponsor. Having a consistent routine helps keep you focused on your recovery.
Skip Triggering Events/ Have a Party Plan
It's important to avoid triggers that can lead to alcohol and drug consumption, especially early in recovery. New Year's Eve with friends, Friendsgiving, family gatherings, office parties, and neighborhood celebrations are some of the events that can lead to alcohol consumption during the holiday season. Sometimes the easiest method to maintain your sobriety is to simply avoid gatherings where drinking will be prevalent, especially if you are new to recovery. Reevaluate the invitations to the party next year. And remember that alcohol-free gatherings, such as those held by AA and NA, are also a safe alternative to drinking and celebrating alcohol-filled parties.
If you're planning on attending a party where alcohol is served, prepare yourself mentally for the event. Before you go, take the time to walk through the various scenarios that may occur. You should also plan on your departure and arrival, as well as who you will spend time with. When you arrive, make it a priority to grab a non-alcoholic beverage. It doesn't matter if it's seltzer or soda, just make sure to have that non-alcoholic drink with you throughout the entire night. This will help make others less inclined to push a drink on you. Have your own transportation both to and from the party so you can leave the party on your schedule and no one else's. It’s also a good idea to speak with your sponsor beforehand to review your plan.
Make Managing Stress and Self Care a Priority
As wonderful as the holidays are they also come with their own unique stressors on our mental, emotional, and physical health. That’s why it's important to carve out some time for yourself and the activity that nourishes your mind, body, and soul. Whether that’s meditation, a yoga class, going for a run, or a few hours at the spa, do what you know replenishes you and helps you feel better mentally and physically.
Enjoy Your Family but Know Your Limits
Reuniting with extended family members is a fun part of the holiday season but it can also present challenge for people in recovery. The holidays can also spark long simmering feelings among family members that aren’t usually around one another. We all have that aunt that can’t help but find a way to criticize you for a career decision or will ask whatever happened to you and that ex they liked so much, leaving you feeling “less than.” The holidays also have a way of unearth our painful memories related our family whether they be from loss, abuse, or neglect. This is the type of mental stress and pain that can lead someone in recovery to begin rationalizing having a drink or failing back into drug use. To combat this try as best as you can to surround yourself with only family members capable of supporting you AND your recovery and limit your exposure to family members who exhibit problematic or toxic behavior.
Get into the Giving Side of the Season
The more we focus on helping others, the better we feel about ourselves. Seek out ways to help and serve others this holiday season. Pull out one of your favorite family recipes and make a meal or seasonal treat to take to a friend. Set aside some time to volunteer at a homeless shelter, food pantry or soup kitchen. Check in on elderly neighbors who aren’t able to get out much and might be alone this holiday season. Think of service to others as one of the benefits of your sobriety, as it allows you maintain your health and keep your mind clear enough to help others and your community.
Maintaining your recovery during the holidays can be challenging but it is completely doable when you have a plan, focus on your mental and emotional stress, and surround yourself with people and activities that are supportive of your sobriety. By managing your holiday-related stress and avoiding triggers you can join the millions of Americans who successfully maintain their sobriety throughout the holiday season.