The holidays can be a tough time for people in recovery. How can you get through the season when drinking and being merry are not in your options? While there are several helpful advice that may help you change your mindset and approach, knowing some practical tips is also very useful to help you navigate through the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are 12 tips that can help you stay sober during the holidays.
1. Bring your own non-alcoholic drink
If you’re attending a party and you are not sure if there will be non-alcoholic drinks available, it’s best to bring your own drink. There are great-tasting options that do not contain alcohol. Find a flavor you love so you’ll enjoy drinking it.
If you’re in an event where not many people are aware of your history, always keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand which is a great way to avoid having well-meaning strangers from offering you alcohol.
2. Avoid going out alone
When you feel like going out, always have someone with you. Ask that person to keep an eye on you and remind you to stay on track. This person should understand the importance of why you want to stay sober.
You can bring a going-out buddy or a date who’s also trying to be sober so you can be each other’s watchman. Not being the only person who’s not drinking alcohol can also help you avoid feeling out of place.
3. Be the designated driver
One of the most challenging struggle for people trying to stay sober is how to decline a drink offer politely. Not everyone you’ll encounter will know about your drinking problem and a party may not exactly be the most suitable place to talk about your dilemma.
An easy way out is to make yourself the designated driver. This way, when somebody offers you a drink, the quick answer of “I’m driving” will be readily accepted and will not raise any eyebrows.
4. Engage in physical activities
Being idle during your free time is just more time for you to think about not having a drink. To keep yourself active, it’s a great idea to engage in sports, join a gym or take part in outdoor activities. Not only will these activities challenge you, they will also improve your overall health and well-being.
5. Participate in a good cause
The holiday season is a perfect time to volunteer in a good cause. Local charities are often looking for extra help in running soup kitchens and fundraising events. Participating in these types of initiatives gives you a newfound sense of purpose, plus there’s no better feeling than being able to give back to the community.
6. Surround yourself with supportive people
Being alone during the holidays can be depressing so for most people, this becomes a trigger for them to relapse. To kick out the holiday blues, try to always surround yourself with individuals who support your journey to recover. Try to avoid negative people who only make you feel that you are not doing enough. The holiday season is all about joy and positivity so you deserve to experience that, too!
7. Attend local holiday events
If you are living in an area where you don’t have much friends and family, attending local holiday events is a great way to integrate yourself socially. If your town or city is hosting a Christmas parade or a bazaar, try to find out how you can be of help. This will help you get into the holiday spirit and may even be a venue to meet new friends.
8. Don’t get caught up in holiday stress
Attending endless Christmas parties, gift shopping, as well as juggling career and home demands can be overwhelming. These things may push you closer to that drink you’re craving. It’s so easy to just give in and tell yourself that you deserve that one drink, but it may also be the gateway to more bad drinking decisions.
To avoid this, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be a holiday super Santa, instead, just chill. Sounds difficult? For instance, if you were not able to find time for holiday shopping, stay home and order online to avoid the rush. Take the same stress-free solution in dealing with bake sales, pot lucks and holiday parties. Or if you’re feeling too stressed from too much family events, schedule a massage instead reaching for a drink to calm yourself down.
9. It’s okay to say no
If you feel that the party or event you’re being invited to will not be a safe place for you to keep sober, then politely decline the invitation. Don’t feel guilty about not attending because you are doing this to make yourself better in the long run.
However, this does not mean that you should isolate yourself and decline every invitation. Doing that will be counterproductive because you also need to experience fun and fellowship in sobriety. When given the chance, attend events where you’re sure to feel safe and supported.
10. Remove yourself early from uncomfortable situations
Dealing with your family can be challenging. Not everyone will understand your path to recovery. Some people may judge you and offer unsolicited opinion. Others may disregard your goal to stay clean and will try to push you to have a drink.
In situations like these, remember that you’re entitled to walk away. When you start to feel awkward or uncomfortable, excuse yourself early and make an exit. There’s no need to subject yourself to any more negative energy.
11. Eat and Sleep Well
Taking care of yourself by making sure that you’re eating healthy constantly and having enough rest is very important. Avoid skipping meals, overindulging in holiday candy, and staying awake all-night to watch TV marathons. Overextending yourself will only leave you feeling lethargic, moody and depressed
12. Ask for Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have your sponsor on your speed-dial so you can give them a call when faced with cravings. Talking about your cravings gives you time to delay that feeling until it subsides and having someone to talk to will also help you remember about your motivations to stay clean and sober.
Celebrating your Sobriety!
When celebrating the holidays, don’t focus on not being able to drink. Instead, celebrate that you are a much stronger person today. The holidays will come and go but your commitment to yourself is a life-long journey.
The holiday season can be a difficult and emotional time for a person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. If you or a loved one is in this critical situation, please know that help is available today. Contact Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more about our specialized modes of treatment that can help.