It’s that time of year where people in recovery need to hold a bit tighter to their sobriety. The holidays are a time of joy and celebration but also pose a risk for people who are clean and sober. Even if it’s your first year sober, you can make it through without having to take a drink. These 12 tips will help you head into the holidays with your sobriety protected.
1. Make a plan
Create a plan ahead of time so you aren’t stuck in an uncomfortable situation with no way out. Without a plan you could end up somewhere that threatens your sobriety with no way to leave. Drive yourself to any events you attend, bring a sober friend with you for support, and have an exit strategy in mind.
2. Prioritize self-care
Taking care of yourself this holiday season is an important way to protect your sobriety. Care for your body, mind, and soul to keep yourself from getting depleted. Get some sunlight, be mindful of your nutrition, and incorporate some movement in your day.
3. Lean on your support system
It’s easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays therefore your support system will be crucial during this time of the year. Lean into your friends and family who support your recovery. Add an extra recovery meeting or two during the next few weeks. Check in frequently with your mentor. Make use of your support system when you’re feeling the pressure of the holidays.
4. Set boundaries with relatives
Relatives are one of the most challenging parts of the holiday season. You’re not alone if you feel obligated to spend more time with difficult relatives than usual. Set boundaries beforehand making it easier to maintain them once you arrive. There’s nothing wrong with setting a time limit on your attendance.
5. BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverages)
It’s easier to decline a drink offer when you already have a beverage in your hand. Pack a few cans of soda, pick up a bottle of sparkling cider, or gather up the ingredients for a fun mocktail. Bringing your own beverages keeps you from having to rely on the host to offer a non-alcoholic drink.
6. Celebrate your friendships
Holidays are a time to celebrate your relationships not only with your family but with your friends as well. Reach out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while and wish them a happy holiday season. Check in with those you keep in touch with and express your appreciation for their friendship and support over the years.
7. Indulge mindfully
It’s tempting to go all-in on holiday treats but consuming too much heavy food can leave you not feeling well. People often replace alcohol and drugs with sugar binges during early recovery. There’s nothing wrong with having a few treats but be mindful of overindulging; you want to take care of yourself.
8. Find ways to be of service
Being of service to others is a great way to get out of your head and protect your recovery. It doesn’t have to be a big volunteer opportunity in your community, either. Being of service to your family, friends, or neighbors is perfect.
9. Develop new traditions
Incorporate a celebration of your sobriety into your new annual traditions. Acknowledge and appreciate your new approach to life. Your sobriety is a gift not only to yourself but to everyone who loves you as well.
10. Be mindful of triggers
The holidays are full of potential triggers that might leave you feeling tempted to take a drink. Stress and frustration with family may cause a temptation to drink. Or you might possibly feel left out of the fun without a drink in your hand. Prepare yourself for these possible triggers ahead of time.
11. Keep your sobriety number one
No matter what you do, don’t forget that keeping your sobriety is number one. This means you might need to decline an invitation or stop by an event for a limited amount of time. You don’t need to feel guilty for doing so; your sobriety is number one this holiday season.
12. Cultivate your spirituality
Don’t forget to focus on the spirit of the season as the year comes to a close. Giving and gratitude is the reason for the season, regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. Keep the holiday spirit in mind as you avoid the “holiday spirits” and your sobriety will be protected.