The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and fun. But for many people, it’s also a time of stress and anxiety. If you’re in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction
You may look forward to decorating the tree and baking sugar cookies. Then, you remember crowded shopping malls and family dinners with distant relatives asking you about your childbearing plans. You may also wonder how you’ll handle annual rituals that usually involve rum punch and champagne.
Learn how to celebrate the holidays without risking your recovery. Follow these tips for staying peaceful and sober, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing into the New Year.
Minimizing Holiday Stress:
- Anticipate triggers. Plan ahead for situations that may tempt you to drink. You’re more likely to make sound decisions if you avoid getting caught by surprise. Be prepared for social pressure and strong emotions.
- Watch your budget. Marathon shopping and credit card bills can cause financial strain. Figure out how much you can spend on entertaining, and gifts. Live within your limits.
- Enjoy nature. Set aside time for outdoor fun like ice skating and sledding. Go for a brisk walk and admire the snow.
- Work out. Physical activity is a great way to relax and burn off extra calories. Give yourself an early present of online fitness classes.
- Sleep well. You’re calmer and more resilient when your mind and body get adequate sleep. Stick to your regular bedtime. Turn off the TV and other devices at least 2 hours before retiring.
- Eat healthy. Proper nutrition provides energy and a sense of overall wellness. Plan your meals and snacks, so you get plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. If you love holiday treats like candy and pie, limit the serving sizes.
- Take a trip. A change of scenery might help. Treat yourself to a holiday vacation that will allow you to feel pampered and avoid situations that may be too demanding at this stage in your recovery.
- Attend extra meetings. If programs like AA have become part of your regular routine, check the calendar to find additional meetings and events to help you through the holiday season.
Managing Holiday Socializing:
- Create new traditions. Be creative. Invent new holiday activities if your old ones revolved around drinking. Pancake breakfast instead of a boozy brunch. Replace bar hopping with volunteer work.
- Be selective. A lighter schedule may help you feel more balanced. Pick the parties and events that are the highest priorities for you. Graciously turn down invitations to gatherings that could be too awkward.
- Snack wisely. An empty stomach can sabotage your willpower. Eat some bread and cheese or a handful of nuts before going out for the evening.
- Stay hydrated. There are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages you can still enjoy. In addition to plain water or juice, explore recipes for fancy mocktails with ingredients like star anise, muddled berries, and cinnamon.
- Help out. Shifting your attention to others is a great way to distract yourself from alcohol cravings or any feelings of self-consciousness.
- Leave early. Alcohol often flows more freely later in the night. If you prefer a quieter experience, be among the first to arrive and depart.
Be merry and sober this holiday season. The occasions you celebrate without alcohol may wind up being more meaningful and memorable. Next up, getting through the holidays, after losing a loved one.
Did you find these strategies helpful?! Share with a friend who is struggling. Like, follow and share!
To Your Success,
Many people are able to drink without serious consequences, but there is a significant part of the population that struggles with sobriety. Many people rely on alcohol as a coping strategy. Others develop an actual physical addiction to alcohol. Common signs of alcoholism include:
- An inability to drink in moderation
- Overspending on alcohol
- Craving alcohol
- Neglecting personal and work responsibilities due to alcohol consumption
Work, personal relationships, physical health and psychological health can all be negatively affected by drinking alcohol in excess. Increase the odds of staying sober with these useful tips:
- Remove all alcohol from your home. Anyone that’s ever been on a diet knows that any food in the house that tastes good will eventually be eaten. The same goes for alcohol. If you enjoy drinking, you’ll eventually break down and drink it if it’s in the house.
- Avoid situations that make it easy to drink. Opportunity can equal disaster. Be careful about meeting coworkers at a bar after work. Parties can be another danger zone. Consider taking a date to a location that doesn’t serve alcohol. Be wary of where you spend your time if you want to stay sober.
- Re-evaluate your social circle. Spending time with your long-time drinking buddies can be a huge mistake. Do you have friends that always drink on the weekends? Does someone in your family drink frequently?
- While many people will be supportive of your decision not to drink, there may be some that won’t. You might have to shuffle the people in your life if staying sober is a priority.
- Find a group of people that share your challenge. There are many groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, that provide support to those who have chosen to stay sober. These groups can be a great place to build friendships with those going through the same struggle.
- Exercise. A good workout can clear your head, burn off stress, and reset your brain and your perspective. Exercise benefits you in many ways.
- Get help with any mental health issues. Mental health issues can make sobriety much more challenging. Get the help you need to deal with any mental health issues you might be facing.
- Find a hobby that you love and do it! Spend time on an enjoyable activity as often as possible. A positive mood makes it easier to avoid drinking. What do you like to do? What would you like to try?
- Deal with urges effectively. It’s important to have a plan when the urge to drink arises. There’s no way to avoid the urge to drink completely. What are you going to do when it happens?
- Call a friend?
- Call a sponsor?
- Go for a run?
- Reduce the stress in your life. Stress is uncomfortable. When we’re uncomfortable, we tend to do whatever needs to be done to make ourselves comfortable again. Stress can’t be avoided completely but reducing the amount of stress you experience can help reduce the urge to drink.
- Address any physical pain. Pain, like stress, is another form of discomfort. And let’s face it, alcohol is pretty effective at reducing pain. See your doctor and deal with any injuries or long-term pain your body might be suffering.
These tips can help with maintaining sobriety, but the initial steps of becoming sober might require the assistance of health professionals. If alcohol is a serious issue for you, it is likely to be an ongoing struggle for the rest of your life. It’s a battle best fought one day at a time. Alcoholism is a serious disease that requires immediate attention. Get the necessary help you require. You’ll be glad you did.
To Your Success,