Recovery during the holidays can be challenging. Whether this is your first holiday season staying sober or your seventieth, the stress that comes from holiday events, traditions, family get-togethers, family fights, expectations, financial pressure, and more can make it difficult to avoid triggers, let alone stay sober.
How to Maintain Recovery During the Holidays
During the holiday season, take time to check in with yourself, especially if this is the first holiday where you are trying to remain sober. It’s easy to feel angry, overwhelmed, or anxious, which are perfectly normal feelings. However, if you don’t take time to assess how you are feeling and what you can do to manage those emotions, those normal feelings might lead to a relapse. That’s why it’s important to have strategies for navigating triggers and maintaining sobriety during the holidays.
Be Open and Honest
Be open and honest about your recovery. The holiday season is particularly stressful for many people because of how big a role alcohol or drug use might play in events or parties. It’s important to be open and honest about your journey in recovery so that other people understand and respect your wishes.
Don’t let someone pressure you with the old adage that “one drink won’t hurt.” Instead, avoid stressful or potentially vulnerable situations, and for other events, consider bringing non-alcoholic beverages. You might be surprised at how many other people, for whatever reason, are also staying sober and might appreciate an opportunity to still socialize with a tasty beverage that won’t get them into trouble.
Sobriety during the holidays is best done when you have an established self-care routine. Techniques that you may have learned from therapy or support groups can be particularly useful when practiced all year round, but they can be especially important when you face extra stress and triggers during the holiday season.
Maintaining sobriety during the holidays is a lot easier if you plan ahead. By planning ahead, you can:
- Decide which events, parties, or get-togethers might be too triggering for you or might be better managed if you have support from a friend or a sponsor to go with you.
- Have an escape plan with a reason to leave if things become too uncomfortable or stressful.
- Plan extra self-care before a potentially triggering event, like extra time for yoga or meditation.
Get support. Help can come in so many forms, like a sponsor, a friend, or someone who sympathizes with what you are going through.
You might need to schedule extra support group meetings or group therapy sessions so that you are in a good place and have the skills to maintain your emotional bandwidth at parties or events.
You might even consider getting professional support from The Differents, where you can participate in our Reno intensive outpatient programs or partial hospitalization programs right before the stress of the holiday season begins to build.
Change Your Focus
Maintaining recovery during the holidays might mean changing your focus. While you will likely expend a lot of energy checking in with yourself and how you are feeling, you can also go back to some of the basic tenets of SMART and 12-step programs, which is to give back and see how you can serve others.
- Collect toys for toy drives in your community.
- Spend time at facilities like nursing homes so that people who are lonely during the holidays have companionship.
- Volunteer at food banks, animal shelters, or other service centers.
- Try something new by participating in community or church choirs or other holiday festivals.
When you change your focus, you can get a much bigger picture of what’s happening in the world and gain some perspective about your issues with recovery. It can also offer an opportunity to deepen your connection with others and focus on the things that matter most during an otherwise complicated holiday season.
Overall, what matters most is that you know your limits and that you know when and how to reach out to others if you are in need. There’s really no way to avoid all triggers during the holiday season, but what you can do is apply techniques and tools to navigate those triggers and cope with the stress instead of letting it encourage a relapse. Let The Differents lend a helping hand if you are struggling with your recovery this holiday season. Contact our trusted drug rehab in Reno today.