Individuals recovering from addiction can often view the holiday season differently from others. More holiday parties and celebrations mean more potential for stress or even relapse. If you are a recovering addict, some specific planning and realistic goals can help you keep your sobriety in check and your holidays on track. Read on for some tips to consider:
1 | Notice the stress factor
During the holidays, keep stress levels under control by making time to assess your feelings and taking the appropriate steps to get them in check. Exercising regularly can help you maintain energy and focus, while giving you confidence to make important decisions and run your life. Taking proper care of your body keeps you strong and helps keep stress at bay. Facilitate your well-being by eating healthfully and getting enough sleep. Eating right will keep blood sugar levels stable, which can also alleviate anxiety and irritability. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help you wake up more energized and ready for your day. Reinforce positive thoughts before beginning your day by listing the things you have to be grateful for. Think of those things throughout the day when stress starts to knock on your door.
2 | Run your own holiday
Every day should start with a plan to hold tight to your sobriety. Decide what your agenda will be and go from there. You don’t have to accept every party invitation. Choose to attend events that you can find some joy in and drive yourself there to be able to leave whenever it gets stressful or temptations arise. Avoid being handed alcoholic drinks or desserts by bringing your own non-alcoholic refreshments from home. Rehearse responses beforehand to decline drinks or other substances when offered, and to be ready to stay strong. Planning your own holiday get-togethers with supportive family and friends is another way to take charge of your holidays. There are plenty of ways to make new holiday memories without involving substances that can jeopardize your sobriety. Your expectations should not exceed realistic standards. It’s rare that anyone’s holiday is perfect, so give yourself some room for mistakes and know that you can still find joy in the little things.
3 | Remember the importance of your support system
A support system is one of the most valuable tools of a recovering addict. Trusted and supportive relatives and friends can help you feel wanted and loved during times of stress and temptation. Remember to nurture those relationships and they will be there for you whenever needed. Meetings or support groups can also help you get through the holidays and keep you focused on your sobriety. Attending meetings more often during the holidays may be needed to give you an extra boost in the right direction. If you need help finding a support group, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) offers a list of organizations you can contact.
4 | Do more for others
It is very easy to get stressed out and focused on ourselves, wondering how we will get through this holiday season. In actuality, the holiday season is the perfect time to look for ways to help others instead. Helping others in need is what the season really is about. Find a homeless shelter to volunteer at or an elderly neighbor who needs some companionship. Someone is always out there who needs some help even more than you do, and it can help you gain a more positive perspective on your own life. Get involved in the recovery process of another addict through your support groups. Attend events with them as their sober companion and help them stay on track. Taking responsibility for others who are battling the same urges to relapse as you can be therapeutic and empowering. Sticking to a plan for your holiday season and keeping a positive outlook on your future, will help you gain confidence and strength to hold fast to your sobriety throughout the new year.
I hope you found these tips from Constance Ray at Recovery Well helpful! If you have any questions or comments for me or Constance, please leave them below. If you have a personal story or tip you'd like to share about how you personally avoid relapse during the holidays, please share in the comments section. To learn more about addiction recovery, please read my 4-part series on addiction and recovery. If you're interested in an integrative approach, check out this article on holistic practices for drug and alcohol recovery. Thank you for reading and be well!
about the author
Recovery Well is a non-judgmental place to share how addiction has affected you and your loved ones, whether based on your personal struggles with substance abuse or through witnessing a loved one battle the disease. Our mission is to share stories of hope with those feeling lost, and encourage them to believe that there is a healthy, fulfilling life on the other side of whatever path you’re currently traveling.