The holiday season is often a time of year when it can be harder than usual to stay on the path of sobriety. There are many reasons this can be the case, depending on the person. Sometimes, the holidays bring up sad memories or time alone when it seems everyone else is happy. Time spent with family and friends are not always positive, as it can create tension, arguments and other problems. Despite how hard you have tried to grow and change, family members might not recognize that growth, or you might be reminded of how they have not experienced the same growth as you. It can also be a time of added stress through extra financial burdens and responsibilities to other people.
On top of these types of difficulties, holiday gatherings often include plenty of alcohol. There may even be other kinds of excess, in the form of eating, drugs and other temptations. It is a time when people tend to let loose a bit. This atmosphere can make it extra difficult when you are trying to stay sober. You are surrounded by more triggers than normal, and people might encourage you to relax and just have a little, which you know can be the start to relapse. So what can you do to make it through the holidays without relying on substances? Try the following six tips for some extra support.
Choose a Healthy Environment for Sobriety
You might want to stay away from holiday parties that will include people who will discourage you from sobriety, and go to ones where the people are more supportive. Also, ask a like-minded friend to come if are not feeling secure. Sometimes holidays can be too emotionally involved and is good to take things in as lightly as possible. If things take an unexpected turn, consider the source and be compassionate with others present situation and feeling, as you hope they will be with you.
Be Aware of Your Triggers
Understand the people, things and situations that could trigger cravings for self-medicating, and take steps to deal with them. One of the best methods is to simply avoid the situation altogether. Since it’s not always possible to do that, plan ahead by talking to your therapist about what is causing you anxiety. Try to learn tools to deal with uncomfortable feelings and healthy ways to deal with stress, which could both help you now and in future situations. Also, understand that you are much stronger than you think, and your present choices are what will define your future.
Step Back From the Situation
If you’re having difficulty with a situation you get into, such as a meal with family or a party with substances, take a break from it. During that time, refocus with activities such as enjoying the natural world around you and taking some deep breaths. Try to remember why you stopped using substances, and just understand that the discomfort of the moment is short and temporary, unless you make it part of your feelings. Realize that life is not all about you, and you don’t have to make every situation personal or grandiose. It’s important to learn to handle different feelings in life; having bad feelings can help you know and appreciate the good ones. It is really not about the situation, but about how you handle it.
Helping the host of a get-together is one way to get yourself away from triggers and to be part of what’s positive and productive around you. It always makes you feel great to help and give. It can improve your self-esteem, and it helps you remember that there is more to life than your own wants and needs. Ask if you could help make or serve food, or with anything else that could add positive vibes to the celebration. If the host doesn’t need help, see if there are any guests at the event who could use a friendly ear.
The holiday season is the perfect time to appreciate what you have and be grateful for what’s in your life. Focus on feeling this way, and take the time to notice the things around you that you can be thankful for. See how much is at your reach — small things like a warm home and a beautiful dinner can be all that’s needed to warm the heart and soul. Allow these kinds of moments to turn into soothing feelings you cherish.
Remember Every Day Is a New Beginning
Throughout this holiday season, you might find challenges and obstacles to overcome. Remember that you have succeeded in beating the hardest of fights before, and you can do it again. The great thing is that every time you get through a tough situation, you will gain more inner strength. Don’t allow insecurities and anxieties to take over your holidays. Celebrate life!!!! Have a healthy and blessed holiday season!