While the holidays are meant to be joyous, those in recovery often feel as if they are walking through a minefield. A combination of high expectations, commitment to too many activities, and exhaustion can lead to heightened emotions and mood swings. Unfortunately, busy schedules and extensive traveling only increase stress. Not only are you probably spending more time away from your support network and the comfort of routine, but you likely feel more isolated. These are the times holiday customs and events are more likely to cause alcohol and drugs to tug at you. Fortunately, you can prepare for the high-risk relapse season by taking proper precautions and putting safeguards in place. The following tips will help maintain your sobriety this holiday season.
Keep in mind that the holidays are meant for celebration first and foremost. You have made the decision to create a positive change in your life, and you need to be committed to making it happen. Positive thoughts can keep you moving forward during even the toughest of times. Don’t allow negativity to bring down your recovery. Read our blog on How to Change a Negative Attitude here.
Spend Time with those Who Support Your Recovery
Holidays often revolve around social events, and enjoying the company of friends and family can make for a fantastic time. Just make sure to avoid those people who are not beneficial to your recovery journey. In putting yourself in a supportive environment, you strengthen existing bonds and take care of your own needs at the same time. This is why it is a great idea to have a sober buddy: somebody you can ask to be “on call” to check on you and provide support.
Rehearse Questions You’ll Be Asked
If this is your first holiday gathering sober, you should probably expect some uncomfortable questions coming your way. Even the most innocent inquiries from people who love you can feel more like an inquisition. Ask a family member, friend, therapist, or religious leader to sit down and help you answer some of these questions.
If you don’t want to answer questions, you can always decline. Everybody will know that you are sober if you say something simple like, “I don’t drink anymore.” It’s effective and straight to the point.
In the event that you do not want to share your sobriety with those present, statements like these can be quite useful:
- “I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “I’m on medication and can’t drink alcohol.”
- “I’m the designated driver tonight.”
Take Care of Yourself
These tips will help you practice self-care during the holidays, preventing relapse:
- Know what triggers you. Understand how to manage or avoid these triggers that often lead to temptation.
- Don’t binge on holiday treats, as tempting as it may be. Proper nutrition is important.
- Feeling stressed? Hit the gym. Exercise relieves stress.
- Maintain your spirituality. Attend services throughout the holidays if you feel the desire to do so.
- Did you know that the risk of relapse is higher for those who don’t get enough sleep? Keep a consistent sleep schedule, taking naps if you need to. It’s not always about not getting enough sleep; it’s often about getting quality sleep. Avoid electronics and other lights right before bed to improve your sleep quality.
This is why you need to set up a sleep schedule, exercise in the morning, and avoid things that may bring down the quality of your sleep.
If You Do Fall Down . . .
. . . get up and start again! You are only human, and it’s only natural that we fail from time to time. It is the way you bounce back and begin again that really matters.
Learn about Relapse Prevention at Pathways Real Life Recovery in Tooele, Utah
The mistaken belief that the holidays are an inappropriate time for treatment plagues many families. In reality, this is the best time to seek help. Your family members may ascribe to the belief that holidays are a time for everybody to spend time together; however, addiction can become more difficult to cope with instead.
The holidays are often emotionally stressful, making alcohol addiction and substance abuse much more prevalent. Additionally, it becomes more difficult for those coping with addiction to avoid use. Initiating treatment during the holidays could be the best way to avoid substances.
Welcome the upcoming holiday season with a solid plan to nurture your sobriety. Your recovery is a gift that will keep on giving, and it’s one that you deserve. Pathways Real Life Recovery can help you give yourself this important gift.
Happy (sober) Holidays!