9 Tips for Managing the Holidays in Recovery
1) Have a PLAN
Discuss your plan with a sponsor or sober support. This is not the time to be flying solo. Take phone numbers, meeting schedules, and program materials with you wherever you go so it is easy to reach out if you experience triggers.
2) Treat it like it is just another day
Manage your expectations and look for reasons to be grateful. Thinking that people should behave in certain ways is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, decide that you and your loved ones are doing the best you can and let everyone off the hook for the day. Remember, “This, too, shall pass.”
3) Meetings, meetings, meetings
Going to more meetings than you usually do is a very good idea, especially if you are new in recovery and this is your first holiday experience without the use of substances. Make sure you listen carefully to all the solutions offered. You never know when a situation might come up that has already been answered – pay attention.
4) Go late, leave early
Family gatherings can bring up old unresolved issues and make you feel angry and alone. Going late (10-15 minutes) and leaving early (when others begin getting tipsy or you begin to feel uncomfortable) can be a really helpful strategy. Make sure to have your transportation arranged ahead of time and don’t get stuck behind another car.
5) Focus on what you can BRING to the celebration
It is very helpful to stop focusing on whether or not you are getting what you want and start paying attention to what you can bring to the situation that could be helpful. Try spending time with the children in the family as a way of getting to know them and letting their parents have some time off. You might end up really enjoying yourself in the process.
6) Do something fun that doesn’t involve triggers
Shopping is a trigger for me; always has been. I get irritable and negative in my thinking. So it is best if I stay away from the mall during the holidays. I do one big shopping trip when I’m in a good frame of mind, preferably with someone supportive and fun, then I don’t go back to the mall the rest of the season.
Taking a walk through the woods has never been a trigger for me. It allows me the time to relax, breathe deeply and connect spiritually. During the holiday season I need to do more walks outdoors to boost endorphins and take care of myself.
7) Getting through the holidays is simply another thing you have to learn to do sober
Just about every month has some type of holiday or celebration, so it is important to learn how to get through them safely. Early sobriety requires that we learn to do many things differently in order to maintain our gains. Each day we must confront new ways of doing things in order to keep clean & sober. Recovery is not a chore or a punishment, it is a gift that we get to unwrap daily.
8) Celebrate your wins!
If you make it to the meal, congratulate yourself. If you make it through the meal without saying or doing something you need to apologize for, acknowledge it. If you are able to actually relax and have some fun, pat yourself on the back.
9) Hold onto your drink at all times
Nothing is scarier than accidentally sipping what you think is your beverage only to find out it is someone else’s alcoholic drink that looks just like your non-alcoholic one..
Remember very few people actually care about what you are drinking, and those who do probably have an issue themselves.