Enjoying a sober holiday season can be challenging for people in recovery and particularly for those who are early in the process. With all the social events occurring during the season, it not only provides many opportunities but even pressures for a person to drink alcohol or use substances.
The holiday season is a time where families and friends gather. This could be the first time you’ve gathered with these individuals since you’ve become sober – all of this can bring on anxiety and tension, and of course lots of stress. For those with family members who aren’t knowledgeable about addiction or who are active addicts themselves, it just adds another heavy layer. The situation can only intensify when expectations to be jolly are placed on you – a season that is meant to bring joy and peace can turn or feel like a season from hell.
Fortunately, you are not alone. In fact, a large amount of people who support you and who have been exactly where you are, completely understands what you are experiencing. This is why so much work has gone into finding tips for staying sober during the holidays. The key is to recognize your triggers and to take time to prepare yourself for the holiday season.
How Can I Stay Sober?
Set Realistic Goals. One of the most important things you can do for your sobriety is to set realistic goals. It’s common knowledge that the holidays bring on a great amount of stress for everyone. It’s almost as if we blink, and then we are all left scrambling to complete all the tasks and attend all the events that come with the holidays. One of the best ways to reduce some of the holiday stress is by setting yourself up for success, this can be done by planning and preparing early. You can do this by:
- Establishing meeting times, phone calls, and other forms of communication with your sponsor and support groups
- Deciding what events you will attend
- Creating a list of people you’d like to see (or avoid)
- Making time for yourself to rest
- Creating a holiday relapse prevention plan
Skip It. If you are not ready to gather with friends and family, don’t. It’s okay to skip out on events–especially events that only bring you turmoil right now. Your sobriety is the most important thing this holiday season, and if your friends and family can’t support your absences this Thanksgiving or Christmas, that is their problem. Remember that you do not have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation or one that jeopardizes your sobriety. If you don’t want to or feel as though you can’t skip it, set limits. Have an exit strategy planned before you arrive at the event so that you can leave when you want or when things start feeling uncomfortable.
Bring a friend. Sometimes we just need a friend who gets what we are going through. Or one that provides us with a safe space. Consider bringing a sober friend with you to the events you plan on attending. It is also a good idea to let your friend know about your triggers to help you avoid them. Remember triggers can be situations, people, or places too. If your friend can help you avoid being stuck in a conversation with that uncle who is a trigger, it can make a world of difference and help eliminate stressors.
Avoid risky situations. Let’s be honest, not everyone in your life is going to be supportive or accommodate your sobriety. You may have a cousin who constantly pressures you to take just one shot. Or a best friend who keeps telling you “one drink won’t ruin your sobriety”. Avoid or limit your contact with these people. This goes for risky events too. Some holiday parties are full of situations that may tempt a person to recovery. Remember, it’s okay to skip it. You can still be social without putting your sobriety at risk. Your priority, no matter what time of year it is, should always be to avoid relapse and to safeguard your recovery.
Take time out for yourself. Practicing self-care during the holiday season needs to be a priority. You should always look to find new healthy ways to indulge yourself. As the season changes, find ways to better yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember self-care looks different for everyone. It doesn’t require you to spend lots of money or any for that matter. Focus on the small things that have big effects such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and moving your body. The most important thing is that you are taking time out for yourself and bringing peace into your life.
Recovery is a one-day at a time endeavor, no matter the season. As we cruise into the holiday season, remember to put your sobriety first. Unrealistic expectations, over-commitments, unhealthy eating, financial strain, and fatigue can put a person’s recovery at risk. Add in the stress from traveling and gathering with friends and/or family that aren’t supportive or who act as a trigger, tension and stress are high. There are ways that you can prepare for this challenging season and safeguard the greatest gift you have given yourself and those you love: your sobriety. At Sober Life Recovery in San Diego, we know how important you have worked to make it this far. We also know the challenges that the holiday season brings to those who are in recovery, and we want to help you prevent relapse. If you are struggling this holiday season, reach out to Sober Life today. Call 619-542-9542 today.