Staying sober can be particularly difficult during the holidays. From office parties to family gatherings to traveling, this time of the year can push anyone to their breaking point, but if you are newly sober – these challenges can feel even more overwhelming. During recovery, you may feel like you will be white-knuckling it through the entire holiday season, but you are not alone. Here are some trusted tips you can use to help you through the holidays and keep your sobriety intact.
Holiday party? Let the host know your situation.
Depending on your comfort level, letting the host of the party now you are in recovery will give you an edge during the event. You can let the host know how important it is to you that you maintain the sobriety you’ve worked so hard for, and anything they can do to help would be greatly appreciated. You may want to also offer ways you can help during the event to show your gratitude and to keep busy. Having the host know your situation will help in gaining an ally during the event and he or she won’t take it personally if you need to leave early. Remember, there is no shame in being honest about your sobriety.
Seek Out Support
Gather as much support as you can during this crucial time. Bring a friend to holiday gatherings who understands your needs and can offer a shoulder to lean on (and a car to leave in) if things get rough. If you are fortunate enough to have supportive family members, let them know you need their help during this holiday season. Ask if the holidays can be a little more intimate this year, with only those who know about your recovery. If that’s not an option, just think about what you’ll be willing to share and not share with a larger family gathering. Have a few key answers or phrases about your sobriety journey ready, but don’t go into any more detail unless you really want to. Ask family members you trust to intervene when things get awkward or when you just need a break.
Create A Signature Non-Alcoholic Holiday Drink
Avoid any potential for relapse by creating your own signature non-alcoholic beverage or mocktail. Make this fun for everyone by including options that have ingredients you know your colleagues, friends, or family members will love. You’d be surprised at how many people are cutting back on alcohol these days and these drinks could get a few guests excited about sharing recipes as well as spending the party sober with you.
If You’re Traveling, Find Meetings
Before you book your flight and hotel, search for meetings wherever you’ll be traveling this holiday season. This kind of preparation will give you the added support and confidence you will need going into any situation. Remember to keep in close contact with your sponsor throughout your trip – especially at airports and hotels where there will be many bars and holiday libations. Bring podcasts, music, eBooks or whatever will distract you, especially if you’re seated next to someone drinking on a plane or train. If you can’t move your seat, at least you can guide your attention to a great playlist or a podcast on inspirational recovery stories to keep you focused on your sobriety.
Stay Strong and Set Limits
Practice saying “No,” or whatever you want to say, to prepare yourself for when you need to leave holiday parties, especially work events. There will always be that one person or co-worker that will be pressuring you to stay at a party, and if it’s a supervisor or manager – you may feel even more pressure to avoid saying no to leaving an event. But you have every right to set limits as to what you think you can handle and leave when you are ready. Remember to have an exit strategy, such as bringing your car to the party or having a friend on stand-by and ready to pick you up whenever you call. Moreover, when the room starts to get packed with people, that is an easy way to sneak out without getting noticed.
Preparation is the Key to Sobriety
Plan your holiday calendar early to mentally prepare for what’s ahead. Pick holiday events and parties that seem mellow and avoid the ones that pose the most risk to your recovery. When you are ready to attend a party or event, create a tool kit to bring with you filled relaxing goodies to help stay calm and focused on your sobriety. This kit can include essential oil roll-on or sprays or loading your phone or iPad with your favorite meditation music. Whatever works, bring it. You can go outside or hole up in a bedroom to give yourself a few minutes to center yourself, especially if you feel any old temptations creeping up.
Know Your Triggers and Avoid Them
Acknowledging your triggers will go a long way in keeping you sober. Stay away from places, people, bars, and social events that can prove to be tempting during the holiday season. You don’t have to avoid all fun activities, you just need to make sure your honest with yourself about which situations will have the greatest chance at derailing your sobriety. Pay extra close attention to being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired (HALT) because these adverse conditions can be a major threat to your recovery, especially during the holidays.
Embrace Gratitude This Holiday Season
Remember to take comfort in knowing you made the decision to get sober and that is worth so much gratitude. Also, take time to remember those who helped you on this journey and show gratitude for them this holiday season through thoughtful cards or a small token of appreciation. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take some time to reach out and help others. Volunteering with a local non-profit that needs help during the holidays will allow you to refocus your energy into something positive. Getting out of your own way and being of service to others will keep you on the road to recovery and fill your heart with immense gratitude.
At Silver Lining Recovery, we stay small, focused, and we value our staff to insure quality care for our clients. While you’re here you’ll be able to find healthy new ways to interact and advance through your recovery to a life free of addiction. We also provide you with the tools and resources necessary to thrive long after you leave our facility. Don’t let your addiction rule your life, call Silver Lining Recovery today at 1-833-8GROWTH and start your road to recovery.