Contributed by Micahel Leach
The holiday season is meant to bring peace and joy while families share in love, kindness, compassion and gratitude. However, the holiday season can look quite different for many families.
Stressors quickly pile up, which makes the holiday season difficult for people in recovery or anyone wanting to stay sober between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
It is normal to want the perfect holiday, and every family has a picture of how their holidays should go.
Yet, the stress connected to families, shopping, finances, gatherings and planning holiday celebrations can take a toll.
Maintaining sobriety over the holidays takes planning, and some of the following tips may help.
Have a holiday escape plan. Planning ahead involves having an escape plan. It is ok to turn down invitations, but at holiday parties, it is a good idea to have a plan. Take your vehicle to the party or travel with a sober friend.
Plan ahead for uncomfortable situations and triggering environments. Part of the holiday plan may involve attending 12-step meetings, meeting with a sponsor, limiting time around stressful situations, bringing non-alcoholic drinks and following through with the escape plan.
“Non-alcoholic mocktails are becoming increasingly popular at holiday parties. These options eliminate drinking and driving and all the problems associated with excessive alcohol use,” said Marcel Gemme of addicted.org.
Approximately 6% of Texans reported heavy drinking each week, and 17% reported binge drinking. It is also estimated that one person in Texas dies every eight hours and 31 minutes in a DUI alcohol-related traffic crash.
Recognize triggers and plan for them. A relapse trigger for someone in recovery could be their environment, family members, sights, sounds, and even smells. Plan for this and avoid placing yourself in situations where triggers can lead to a relapse.
Be mindful of negative thoughts. When these thoughts begin to creep in, such as rationalization to consume alcohol, reassure yourself of your capabilities. Remind yourself why you are sober or why you want to be sober over the holidays.
Remain vigilant about practicing self-care over the holiday season. It often happens where we begin to lose track of adequate sleep, healthy eating, and physical activity. Proper nutrition, exercise and sleep do wonders for an individual’s well-being.
During the holiday season, find some time to practice self-care and more importantly, have fun. Do things that make you happy over the holidays. Remember, the holidays are about joy, spending time with family and friends, sharing compassion and love and being gracious.
If you are struggling, utilize a support system, whether family or friends, meetings or a recovery coach. Reach out for help or give back or help someone out. Some of the most rewarding things we can do over the holidays are to give back to those in need and spend some time volunteering.
Overall, recognize the true meaning of the holiday season, create new memories and enjoy the time spent with family and friends. Sobriety over the holidays is entirely possible.