The holidays can be a festive and heartwarming time of year. For many people, holiday parties, family gatherings, and celebrations with friends are times to eat, drink, and be merry. But the holidays can also be a very lonely and depressing time for those who have no place to go. Both situations can cause stress. For those in addiction recovery, holiday stress can trigger a relapse.
Here are some tips to help you navigate through the holidays and keep your sobriety intact.
1. Take One Day at a Time and Have a Plan for Each Day
Making a plan for each day of the holiday season will help you get through the day and avoid triggering a relapse. Stay organized and reduce stress by keeping a calendar and a to-do list. Write down the time and place you need to be and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there. Prepare in advance whatever you need for the day. Whether you attend a meeting or engage in your recovery in some other way, always keep your sobriety and recovery at the front of your mind.
2. Be Aware of Possible Triggers
Be aware of the places or people that could trigger a relapse by making you feel uncomfortable. If you are attending an activity that you feel may trigger a relapse, bring a sober friend with you. If you are going to be in a stressful situation or be with stressful people, limit your time there. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, remember that it’s okay to leave. It is also acceptable to turn down an invitation. If possible, go to a meeting before the activity or “bookend” by calling someone in recovery before and after the activity.
3. Rely on Your Support System
Having a strong support system is a very important part of recovery. If the people in your life who really care about you and your sobriety, such as family, friends, or those who are in recovery themselves, won’t be with you during a holiday event, find someone you can call, text, or reach through social media if you feel the urge to drink or use. Don’t try to do it all on your own.
4. Take Good Care of Yourself
By taking good care of yourself during the holiday season, you will feel better physically and stronger emotionally. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, eat healthfully, and spend some time doing the things you enjoy. Take time to connect with loved ones, visit your favorite quiet place, and relax.
5. Bring Your Own Beverage
In case it will be difficult to find or ask for a non-alcoholic drink at an event, bring your own favorite beverage with you. A safe drink, such as sparkling cider, juice, or flavored water, can help you to feel more like a part of the celebration without putting your sobriety in danger.
6. Prepare Your Responses
If you are going to be seeing family or friends whom you haven’t seen for a long time or who don’t know you are in recovery, be prepared for their questions. Have a plan and practice what you are going to say so you can answer comfortably and give yourself an out
If you don’t feel comfortable telling people you’re in recovery, have an answer ready for when someone offers you a drink. You could say that you have a commitment early in the morning or that you are the designated driver.
7. Spend Time Helping Others
Regardless of how difficult things seem, volunteering your time during the holidays can quickly remind you of how lucky you are. Share your gratitude by being of service. Put together gift or food packages for families in need or the troops that serve our country. Volunteer at a local food bank, serve meals at a homeless shelter, or visit a nursing home and help with the holiday activities. In most communities, there are many opportunities to be of service to others.
Getting the Support and Help You Need
If you struggle with staying sober during the holiday season, remember you are not alone. Reach out for extra support, attend a few extra meetings, or add a new form of therapy.
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