The holidays can be stressful for many of us, especially when you’re still working on the balance between your old life and your life in recovery. While your friends’ and family’s traditions and holiday behaviour may not have changed, you are developing your own, new traditions and habits. It may be difficult for them to understand that potential triggers or simply bad memories of holiday festivities make it hard for you to join in. Despite the celebrations, gift giving, delicious food, and getting together with loved ones, the holidays can be a challenging time for someone with a dependency.
So, how do you enjoy the holiday season? Try to remember these tips before you find yourself feeling overwhelmed:
Tip 1 – Take care of yourself
Schedule time just for you. Whether it’s shopping, exercising, meditating, or taking a long bath, time alone with your thoughts will help minimize stress and keep you centered.
Tip 2 – Stay focused on your recovery
This time of year is full of new commitments and events, and, although you’re extra busy, this is not the time to skip out on support groups and meetings with your sponsor. Getting out of your routine can be extra stressful, and utilizing the help you have is extra important. If you haven’t gotten involved in AA/NA meetings, now is the ideal time to start.
Tip 3 – Don’t hold your expectations too high
We all want the picture-perfect holiday, but expecting that nothing will go wrong is unrealistic, and could lead to disappointment. Every family has its challenges, and you are not alone. Make smart changes to your family traditions to help make the holidays less stressful. Relax, and enjoy the good times with family.
Tip 4 – Let go of past resentments
Nearly everyone struggles with some sort of resentment, and the holidays can bring these feelings to the surface. Learn to forgive and rather than holding onto resentment, learn from the past and make changes.
Tip 5 – If you must go home, plan a safe ride
Parties usually contain alcohol, and this can be a big trigger for people in early recovery. Plan your ride home ahead of time, whether it’s calling a cab or taking your own vehicle. Don’t rely on a ride from someone who may want to stay later and keep drinking.
Tip 6 – Share your feelings
The holidays can bring back confusing feelings and memories. Sometimes, when we remember the “good times,” we’re conflicted because they may have involved drinking and using. This can provoke many different feelings; whether it’s loneliness, stress, anger, or disappointment, the worst thing to do is to bottle them up. Find sober friends, a sponsor, or meetings to share your feelings with.
Recovery is very challenging, but if you have the right tools and support, you can stay sober and prevent relapse — even during the holiday season.