Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays
Most people think of the holidays as a time for family, friends, food, presents and fun. But that is not always the case for people in recovery who are struggling every day to try and stay sober. The holidays bring with it a good amount of stress and stress is a trigger that addicts try to avoid.
There are meals to be planned and shopping for food and beverages. Cooking and baking also has to be calculated and timed. Decorating the house is fun, but it means getting out all the stored boxes that hold decorations, and buying some new ones too. Shopping for gifts is another holiday activity that might mean fighting the crowds at the mall, if you don’t shop online. Then there is the traveling to visit the family. This can mean packing up the kids and the car, or maneuvering through the airport with kids and luggage in tow. The holidays are a time of joy and excitement but it can also be very stressful. How do we avoid the stress and maintain sobriety when we are recovering from addiction? What are the tips for staying sober during the holidays?
Tips To Avoid Holiday Stress
The very first thing to do to avoid stress during the holidays is to start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. Do all your planning, shopping, decorating and even traveling early. This way you can enjoy the holiday and avoid frazzling your nerves.
Put yourself first. Don’t feel obligated to buy gifts for everyone or go to places that you would rather not go to. Focus instead on yourself, what you enjoy and where you feel safe. Don’t allow yourself to be put in situations where there is a lot of drinking going on, or where people are using drugs. There will always be some people who will try to get you to use when they are indulging themselves. Avoid family events, business parties etc. where you will feel uncomfortable or tempted. If you must attend a certain holiday event that you know will be stressful then bring a trusted friend along. A good friend will help you to stay strong and avoid the temptation of relapse. It is also okay to say no, if that is what it will take for you to remain sober.
Perhaps you don’t have friends or family, or are estranged from them. Maybe you have no where to go for the holidays. If being alone is going to make you feel sad and depressed, then you need a plan. You have to fill that time with something else. There are many things you can do, such as volunteer at a soup kitchen or nursing home. This will take the focus off yourself while you are helping other people. You could also work some overtime, or get a second job during the holidays to keep you busy and make some extra money. Ask other recovering addicts from your support group how they are going to spend the holidays and if they have any suggestions for you. You might also want to take a vacation or do something that has always interested you. Make plans early to keep yourself busy and happy during the holiday season.
Create a relapse prevention plan in case an unexpected problem arises. Make sure you have someone that you can contact during the holidays if you need someone to talk to. Increase your visits with your support group or 12-step meetings. Be good to yourself in a holistic way. Exercise, play sports, do yoga, meditate, pray, sing, dance etc. Bring yourself into balance physically, mentally and spiritually. Physical exercise will increase the natural dopamine and endorphin levels in your brain, giving you feelings of calm and well-being. Doing things that you enjoy will bring you strength, peace and joy. Learn how to prepare nutritious meals for yourself to build up your body and clear your mind. You might even want to try learning a new activity or hobby that has caught your eye. There are many things you can do to have fun and feel fulfilled at the same time.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the White Sands Treatment Center at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.