Staying Sober During the Holidays

Preparing one’s recovery program for holiday season helps safe-guard an individuals sobriety. Deanna provides helpful hints for surviving the holiday season and maintaining your sobriety. Learning what to make time for and what to decline is key.

When I took a look at my calendar this past week, I realized that holiday season has officially begun. The next two months are booked solid with parties, holiday activities and traveling to see loved ones. It is my most favorite time of the year.

But it can also be the most stressful. The work year is coming to an end (and as such I always end up with ten times more work to do), time is spent with family and old family dynamics (which can be triggering), I spend more money than usual on travel arrangements and gifts and finding a free minute to unwind is nearly impossible.

That’s why, for me, it’s so important to make sure that I prepare my program for the holidays. I get so caught up this time of year trying to make sure that I get everything accomplished for a successful holiday season that it can be easy to let my program fall by the wayside.

Tips For Staying Sober During the Holidays

Here are some of the things I do to make sure I get through the holiday season with my sanity and sobriety intact:

Schedule time for program

I am a person that responds really well to structure, and as such I have a physical calendar that I use to plan out my days, weeks and months. While I have more flexibility when I am less busy, in November and December I tend to schedule myself down to the minute to try and fit everything in. In order to ensure that I get the things done that I need to get done for my program, I make room for them on my schedule. If I don’t add in a meeting before my company ice skating party or a 30 minute meditation before my flight takes off to head back east for Christmas, they aren’t going to get done. And I am going to suffer as a result.

Know that it’s ok to say, “No”

One of my character traits (or defects, depending on how you look at it) is that I can be a bit of a people pleaser. This is only amplified during the holidays. I want to attend every dinner, Christmas movie night, cookie baking party and other holiday related event that I get invited to. It’s hard for me to say “no” in the best of circumstances, but during the holiday season, when the highlight is spending time with the people that you love, it gets even harder.

But I’ve had to learn that it’s ok to decline invitations and say “no.” I can’t fit in everything that I want to do with everyone that I want to do it with without giving up other things that are just as important – like hitting a meeting, doing step work or spending time unwinding with myself.

Be extra vigilant

While the holidays are known as the happiest time of the year, they are actually the time that people are most likely to feel depressed and anxious, and as such have a higher likelihood of relapsing. I make it a point to be extra vigilante about how I’m feeling – is the amount of alcohol I am inevitably exposed to during holiday events effecting me? Am I feeling sad and stressed out? Is spending time with my family bringing up some old issues that I haven’t fully dealt with? Having the awareness of what is really going on with me and dealing with it swiftly and appropriately is extra important this time of year.

Get out of myself and help someone else

Even though the holiday season is a busy and stressful time, I have to make it a priority to focus on the service aspect of my program and help others. Whether that is being there for a friend who is struggling or volunteering to make the holiday season a little brighter for someone less fortunate than me, getting out of myself and being of service to others is a key component to a rewarding holiday season.

Have a Healthy & Safe Holiday Season

Even though there are extra steps that I need to take to make sure that I get through the holidays with my sobriety and wellbeing in tact, in the end it is all worth it for me. For me, the holidays are about celebrating life and the ones that we love. Because of my recovery program, I am able to do that.

I wish you all a healthy, safe holiday season!

Last Updated on November 4, 2022


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