Staying sober during the holiday season can be difficult for those new to sobriety.
Family gatherings, work parties and friendly get togethers can feel like a white-knuckle ride on a bobsled instead of a festive social event.
Emotional triggers such as family dynamics, resentments, loss, loneliness, unreasonable expectations and guilt can be even more difficult to navigate than a party where there is drinking.
The holidays do not need to feel like a season of struggle. Whether you are in recovery or not, developing a holiday plan that focuses on self care, support, gratitude and finding new ways to have fun, will make staying sober and enjoying the holidays easier.
- Plan each day during the holidays: In your plan be sure to spend time every day with someone who is supportive of your recovery.
- Recruit Team Sober You: Let the people who know and love you know what you are doing to stay sober during the holidays. Tell them you have a plan and ask for their support.
- Up your Meeting Attendance: Schedule one (or several) meetings EVERYDAY during the holidays. You will learn you are not so special and others share your holiday angst – you will be surprised how much you will laugh.
- Volunteer: The best way to get out of our own way is to help others! Learn to be grateful for your recovery by helping someone who needs you! Whether working with another addict or alcoholic or helping to serve meals at a soup kitchen, somebody needs you.
- Have a list of 10 people you can call: Connect with a minimum of 2 of the people on your list every day! You will find that others need you as much as you need them. Don’t do this alone! It is more fun to stay sober with like-minded friends.
- Practice Forgiveness: No time like the holidays to give yourself the ultimate gift – freedom from resentments! Remember, a resentment is a pill you take and expect another person to die. By forgiving others and letting go of negative thoughts, you will be more open to having fun and positive experiences.
- Practice Self Care: Schedule time every day in your holiday plan to meditate, exercise, take a walk or whatever you do to take care of yourself. This will not only help you stay sober, but self care will help you make meaningful connections with others.
- Keep a gratitude list: In your plan jot down three things that you are grateful for, an attitude of gratitude will keep you sober.
- Say NO: If you are asked by a friend to go to a former hang-out where everybody knows your name – just say no. Call up a member of Team You or more of the top ten in your phone and make new plans.
- Create New Ways to Celebrate: Have a dessert party and adopt a charity. Ask friends to bring a favorite dessert and a gift to donate to your designated charity. Make sharing and giving your new holiday theme. Lead by example and show others the holidays don’t have to revolve around alcohol.
- Instill New Traditions and Get Rid of Old Traditions that no longer work: Ice skating at night, a sleigh ride, board game night all create traditions that focus on experiences that are creative, fun and support positive relationships.
- ENJOY SOBRIETY: Live one day at a time and stay in the moment. You have been given a gift where you are now able to be present and live up to your full potential for those you love and those who love you.
Everyone at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation wishes you a sober, safe and happy holiday season. Contact Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center at 888.802.7472 for questions or admissions.
Sources: www.aa.org, LM’s personal holiday experience as a recovering alcoholic; the experience, strength and hope and holiday coping skills as shared by other alcoholics with long term sobriety