Most holidays can be very demanding. More often than not, we spend it preparing for parties and get-togethers as we clean the house, shop, cook and worry about entertaining friends, family or even strangers. Even just thinking about the things you have to do can become stressful.
Stress, anxiety and depression can put a damper on any holiday celebration. Unfortunately, the air of festivity combined with the pressure to celebrate your time off successfully can easily factor into a relapse. During these tempting times, it is even more important to take your recovery seriously. After all, the madness should subside in a few days and you’ll find yourself very thankful for not having jeopardized your progress.
Before getting out there and enjoying yourself with friends and family, here are 5 tips to help you stay sober amidst all the craziness:
1. Get plenty of rest.
Being tired is a dangerous place for a recovering addict. Make sure to add in extra hours of sleep to prepare for the extra stress. If longer stretches of sleep are not possible, try taking regular naps. They don’t have to be long and they bring with them all sorts of benefits.
2. Begin and end each day with positive “I” statements.
Needless to say, these “I” statements ought to be positive. Letting out positive affirmations is an empowering way to start the day. To say, “I am not going to be a happy camper today” will not help you maintain your sobriety through the occasion. As you make more positive statements, you’ll also get to practice your fourth step of making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself, as well as fight off the “stinkin’ thinkin’” or negative thinking that gets most people in trouble.
3. Check in often with your inner child.
Speaking of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” the last thing we want to do during any festivity is ignore our inner child. If you have a regular habit of checking in with your inner child three times a day, avoiding relapse during a holiday may entail checking in at least twice that many times. Remember, it’s not hard to do. Just ask that innocent, inner part of you, “How are you feeling right now?”
4. Don’t isolate yourself.
The word “lonely” make up the one of the letters in the acronym we all know well in recovery: HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired). The holidays can be a very lonely time even when you’re in the midst of many family members. During this time, don’t be afraid to step out with friends who offer you healthy companionship. Or perhaps, it may even be a good time to reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
5. Schedule regular, non-negotiable check-ins with a friend or sponsor.
We all know what they say about the 500lb phone. It’s not easy to make a call. It might be even harder during a holiday. Fight the idea that your friend or sponsor will be too busy to caretake during the holidays. They may need your call just as much as you do. Schedule these calls throughout the season and make them non-negotiable arrangements. This could mean the difference between relapse and sobriety.
Rather than allowing moments of celebration to be a trigger for relapse, make your sobriety a priority. When all is said and done, you’re going to end up patting yourself on the back for taking your recovery seriously and surviving a tempting period with your commitments intact. And that’s a triumph worth a holiday on its own.