Do you dread the holidays? You aren’t alone if you said yes. However, instead of going into the holiday season with a deep sense of dread, you can turn the holidays into a time of joy. To help you kick off this holiday season with a plan, let’s look at how to maintain your sobriety. In the spirit of 12-Step Programs, let’s use a twelve-part guide to holiday sobriety.
The holiday season includes anticipation and expectation. Each day of the holiday season is a gift if you choose to think of it that way. Every time you wake up, there’s a chance to work towards a goal, set new expectations, or start over. Similarly, there are also many ways you can maintain your sobriety.
Let’s begin with the commitment to yourself. Self-love, or self-esteem, is the foundation of your commitment to health and happiness.
Be kind to yourself. Take the time to care for your emotional and physical needs. Pay attention to how you think about yourself or react to specific situations. In addition, you can bolster your focus on yourself by dedicating at least 30 minutes a day to practicing mindfulness or fitness.
Navigating family get-togethers can, at times, become stressful. You’re not alone if you dread seeing certain members of your family; some can even threaten your well-being and recovery. For example, you may have an overly critical, narcissistic relative who asks personal questions or refuses to honor your boundaries. Avoiding them at a gathering isn’t rude; it’s self-care.
Holiday parties are unique stressors. Many parties include alcohol and, in some cases, an abundant amount of it. Being around alcohol or those consuming it can induce stress and anxiety. You can help alleviate these feelings by politely declining an invitation or attending a meeting before you go to a party. If you think you need to speak with someone, call your sponsor, therapist, trusted friend, or attend an alumni meeting at your substance addiction treatment center.
Holidays can make it challenging to stick to your daily routine. While staying on schedule with your exercise, meetings, or mindfulness routine can seem impossible, don’t give up. Maybe you can sneak in five or so minutes of your time for self-care. You can download apps with activities like meditation, yoga, stretching, or strength training, that you can do in five to fifteen minutes. For example, if your commute to work includes public transportation, use that time to play a meditation session.
There are particular holiday gatherings you cannot avoid. But, whether it’s a family or office party, you can plan in advance. The tricky part of attending these gatherings is the offer of alcoholic beverages. You can say, “No, thank you,” or you can employ these tricks:
- Keep a drink, soda, water, or another non-alcoholic drink in your hand
- Hold up your glass if someone asks you if you want a drink
Before you go to a party, settle on an exit strategy. You never know what will happen or how you will feel once you get there. When you are ready to leave for the night, have a plausible excuse, ask a friend to call you during the party, or you can choose to quietly leave.
You probably already know the people who trigger your negative emotions. Don’t worry about avoiding those people at holiday events. You can ask for support from a family member, or you can invite a friend to join you at a gathering to keep you preoccupied.
Start new traditions. Maybe, in the past, your holidays centered around alcohol or other harmful behaviors. This year presents new opportunities to replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones. You can even incorporate friends and family into new, exciting traditions. Some ideas are:
- Baking cookies
- Giving presents to those without family
Be true to yourself. No one has the right to question your healthy coping skills or ask you to change who you are. You decided to change your life, attitude, or habits because you recognized the need for change and saw a better way of life. Stick with your convictions. Your sobriety comes first, not anyone’s feelings or reactions.
There is nothing wrong with admitting to yourself or others if you need help or want to seek a higher power. Your higher power can include finding joy in watching friends and family celebrate, taking a walk outside, or reading a book.
Recognize your triggers. You can’t control everything, and while you may plan your exit strategy ahead of time to cope with toxic friends or family, always pay attention to your triggers, as that is key to avoiding relapse.
If you do relapse, reflect, accept, and forgive yourself. Then, you can start again when you check yourself into a detox program.
The holiday season is a time of celebration and expectations. You can’t control how others behave, but you can implement a few strategies to help maintain your sobriety. Part of staying sober is recognizing your sobriety is dependent and independent of your environment. Because the holidays throw you into uncomfortable gatherings, you can find yourself overwhelmed or reluctant to attend—and that’s okay. Use healthy strategies to help you navigate your way through the season. Every gathering is an opportunity to pre-plan, find your support system, and stay true to yourself. However, there may come a time when you stumble. If you relapse during the holidays, Alta Centers is here to help. We understand how complicated sobriety is, primarily during this upcoming season. Our beautiful detox center, overlooking Los Angeles, provides serenity and privacy. Our caring, trained staff is here to guide you through the detox process. For more information, call (888) 203-2583.