As the old saying goes: Holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. And for this reason, the holidays can be tough to navigate when you’re sober. Depending on how long you’ve been sober, you may find yourself facing your first holiday without alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. On the flipside, holidays can be stressful. Whether you’re planning a last minute gathering, scrambling to get gifts, or facing friends and family that you haven’t seen in a long time, it’s important to stay focused on your sobriety. Here are 5 ways to do just that:
1) Make a new plan each day. Every morning when you wake up, make a conscious effort to stay sober. Try to keep a daily journal and to-do list of ways you’ll achieve this. Whether it’s practicing meditation in the morning, going for a run, or writing, continue to exercise positive habits that keep you on a straight path. Remind yourself daily of the progress you’ve made, and the goals you’ve set to continue that progress.
2) Consciously evaluate each situation. Carefully evaluate each event or situation into low risk, medium risk, and high risk categories. Consider the following factors when making your assessments: who will be there, the length of the event, the location, etc. For example, it may not be healthy for you to surround yourself with other known addicts who could draw you in or send negative energy your way. If keeping a mental list of these evaluations proves difficult, write it down. Avoid all high risk situations and be especially careful with those you consider medium risk.
As you evaluate these situations, try to predict the conversations to come and prepare responses. For example, if you know there are people who will ask about your whereabouts or addictions, be ready to reply with a well-thought answer, whether you plan to offer up the truth on your recovery process or to not discuss it. Be equally prepared to turn down offers that go against your sobriety.
3) Don’t forget to eat. This may seem like a simple one, but when you’ve got a lot going on externally and internally, it’s easy to let your basic needs slip beneath the radar. However, there are some physiological and mental complications with this. Not eating can lead to low blood sugar, which leads to irritability and anxiousness, among other things. This can probe you to make impulsive and irrational decisions. Staying hydrated and nourished reduces the risk of this type of destructive decision-making.
4) Stay close to your support system: Leading up to the holidays, you may want to attend a few extra meetings and speak on your predicament. Having this support system on your side can give you the added strength you need to dive headfirst into the holidays without feeling the need to relapse. If you have family and/or friends who are familiar with your situation and long term goals, turn to them as well. It’s okay to be vulnerable to this group of people, as you will get encouraging words that stay with you through the holidays, and this can be the best gift of all.
5) Keep distracted. Remember to keep busy through the night, whether you chatting up old (or new) friends, or offering to help the host. It’s okay to step aside, find a spot to quickly meditate or go for a walk. Always be conscious of the ultimate goal: to maintain your sobriety.