Celebrate Recovery: Navigate Holiday Stress and Avoid Relapse With 21 Sober Holiday Tips.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a threat to your life in recovery. It’s a stressful time of year for everyone, but it can be more difficult in early recovery. Familiarise yourself with these 21 sober holiday tips to navigate holiday stress, avoid relapse, and enjoy the holidays with family, loved ones, and your recovery community.
Here is a list to get you through the stress, parties, and celebrations during this holiday season.
21 quick tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays
1. Be ready to address your sobriety- Create a respectful response when asked to drink or drug – Recover Out Loud
Prepare what you will say to others when they ask you if want to drink. It is up to you to decide if you want to disclose the truth. You can rely on excuses such as “I’m driving,” “I don’t feel like drinking,” or “I’m watching my weight,” but these excuses could create unwanted peer pressure. The best way to respond is to respectfully turn the drink and disclose your recovery status. It stops unwanted peer pressure. Trey Laird CEO and Founder of The Lighthouse feels, “The more people you tell that you stopped drinking and taking drugs, the fewer people you’ll have to drink and do drugs with.”
2. Remind yourself why staying sober is important to you.
Take time to reflect on why staying sober is important to you. Reminisce and journal about your gifts in recovery, the goals you’ve achieved, and how grateful you are to wake up each morning with a new perspective on a life in recovery. Reflect on how being more present at work home school, or in your loved one’s lives feels.
3. Choose holiday parties wisely.
You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited too. If you feel a party is dangerous, don’t go. If the hosts don’t understand it’s on them. Your first priority is to recovery.
4. Plan an escape route.
If you cannot get out of a family or work celebration, create a plan to leave. Know how you’re getting to the event, who you’re going with, and remind your ride that you might need to leave the party early if you feel uncomfortable.
5. Stay away from slippery slopes.
The season is about giving and gratitude. So stay away from the holiday parties, old friends, and places which create a high-risk for you. Some parties will be full of temptation and discomfort. Parties in old drinking or drugging neighborhoods or in bars that you use to frequent should be avoided.
6. Be mindful of what and why you are eating.
Recovery permeates into all life areas. When in recovery maintaining proper nutrition adds a layer of defense. Talk to experts with real-life experience to provide nutritional knowledge to maintain wellness. Overeating leads to negative feelings and regret. To much food makes you sluggish and can create faulty thinking. Be mindful about what and why you are eating. At times cravings trigger mindless eating because you are worried, scared, or uncomfortable.
7. Spend time with people who support recovery.
Attend holiday functions at sober living homes, go out to coffee after meetings with your recovery coach, sponsor, or peer network. Speak at a local inpatient treatment centers, detox hospitals, or homeless shelters. Go to more meetings or start attending different support groups, such as Refuge Recovery or SMART Recovery.
8. Start new traditions.
Invite your recovery coach and new peers in recovery to come to your home and celebrate the holidays with you and your loved ones. If you are alone during the holidays start new traditions with others from your recovery community. Remember, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” It is critical to surround yourself with other peers in recovery, especially during the holidays.
9. Get up and move – Exercise.
There is no better time than now to start exercising. You can start working out, going for long walks or runs. Maybe try pilates or yoga. It’s Christmas so treat yourself to a healthy membership at your local gym, spa, or yoga studio. Force yourself to go. Make getting fit a new habit. Exercise gets the adrenaline pumping and releases endorphins naturally. The high you feel from moving is more refreshing than artificial highs. Exercise helps you feel good about you and changes your perspective. Plus, exercise will help you eat smarter and keep those extra holiday pounds from piling on. Face it, you can’t always enforce Sober Holiday Tip #6!
10. Remember the spirit of gratitude and giving.
If you don’t already start each day with gratitude, then use the holidays to focus more on living life with gratefulness. Wake up and feel gratitude create happiness inside of you. Celebrate waking up without a hangover or fearful about your next Oxycontin script. You have so much to be grateful for today thanks to a life in recovery. Let the holidays kick you into a constant state of thankfulness and gratitude.
Show your gratitude by outwardly expressing it to others. Write holiday cards thanking others for their love and support through the years. Show your wife, husband, children, friends, recovery coach, and sober comrades how much they mean to you. Don’t just send the generic holiday card. Take time and write a note thanking them for all they do to make you thrive in a lifestyle for recovery.
11. Don’t go to parties alone. Invite sober peers to attend with you.
Attend parties and celebrations with others in recovery. You can always bring a guest to holiday celebrations, so bring a sober peer or your recovery coach along with you to the office party or family celebration. An extra layer of support and protection could make the difference between you getting home sober.
12. Create a plan to attend holiday celebrations .
Plan, plan, and plan so more. Know when the party starts and show up first. Express your joy and gratitude to be part of the celebration and then leave before the wine or cocaine start flowing. Get yourself far from temptation and triggers. Build bridges that lead to safety by going to and leaving the party early.
13. Talk to your Recovery Coach.
Take time and plan the next few weeks with your coach. Discuss the parties you’ve been invited too, friends or relatives who might create stress for you, and what situations that might arise that could sabotage your recovery during the holidays. Reinforce your recovery plan and make necessary changes to compensate stressful holiday concerns.
14 Give back to the recovery community
Make time during this busy season to give back to others in the recovery community. Ask your recovery coach or peer network where you might be of service to the recovery community. Be grateful you can afford to help others by showing up to visit with them, share a meal, cup of hot cocoa, and fellowship. Helping others have a fantastic holiday season ignites a feeling of gratitude. During the holidays reinforce the spirit of the recovery community and connect with others.
15. Be honest with yourself
Schedule some extra time to make the holidays about you and your recovery. Take out your recovery journal and renew your commitment to recovery. Reflect upon the past year. Have you been giving your best to change irrational thoughts and remove unwanted behaviors from your life, or are you sidestepping around these uncomfortable changes you need to make? Get honest about your program. Start now and journal about the changes you want to make in the new year to come.
16. Practice spirituality
Winter is the time to renew your connection to your spiritual self. Spend time in quiet reflection with your higher power. Journal, take walks outside and connect with the beauty of nature. The wintertime provides quiet outdoor places to walk and meditate about the past year. Find time to open up your heart and rekindle the spiritual fire inside of you. Embrace a feeling of grace and thankfulness.
17. Mindfully live one day at a time
Time tends to feel like is speeding up during the holidays. You know the feeling? It’s like one day it’s Halloween and then in a blink of an eye, you’re standing in New York City’s Times Square bringing in the new year. It’s easy to get caught up with all the hustle and bustle going on all around you. When you are in early recovery losing track of time can cause stress, uncertainty, hopelessness, and self-doubt.
One way to slow down is to start practicing living one day at a time. Practice being present in the moment. Start practicing mindfulness, planning your days and preparing to meet your recovery needs so you don’t get swept away in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. When you mindfully live one day at a time you’ll experience less stress and frustration.
18. Put your recovery first – set the tone for the day by making recovery a morning priority.
Start every day by taking action in recovery. Make gratitude journaling, a recovery reading, meditation, prayer, a phone call to your recovery coach, or a recovery support meeting part of your morning routine. Create new habits for recovery that you enjoy doing as soon as you wake up. Making recovery a priority in your morning routine sets the tone for recovery all day. Start adding your recovery to your morning routine. Create a system for recovery to follow each day.
19. Read recovery literature
There are so many great books about recovery. Start reading them. The moments you spend learning about recovery strengthens your foundation.
So many great books to read. Buy yourself an early holiday present to take with you when traveling this season. Head to the self-help recovery section at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.
For starters, Check out:
Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier Dr. Robert Emmons
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions Russell Brand
20. Attend recovery events and celebrations
Attend local recovery community holiday events and celebrations. 12-Step meetings offer special holiday speaker meetings, dinners, and dances. Local treatment facilities celebrate the holidays and invite alumni to attend. Enjoy events and churches and other social organizations in your town. If you cannot find a pre-arranged recovery event to attend, gather with a group of sober peers and head to a favorite restaurant, the movies, shopping, ice-skating, or sledding, and make your own recovery get-together.
21. Avoid H.A.L.T. – hungry, angry, lonely, tired
A pilot never leaves the tarmac without completing an in-depth systems check of the inside and outside of the plane. His thoroughly reviews the plane before take-off and keeps his eye on the gauges during the flight ensures the passengers arrive to their destination safely.
Your responsibility is to check your recovery system regularly. Do a HALT check. HALT is an acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. It’s a recovery tool for self-care. Doing a HALT check is like the pilot assuring his plane is working properly. HALT assure you are taking all necessary precautions for self-care. It doesn’t take much to set yourself up for failure. Stay safe and enjoy yourself this holiday season by using the HALT recovery tool.
22. Build a plan for relapse prevention
Don’t let the stress during the holidays cause the joy you feel in recovery slip away. Create a plan to follow every day, carry a list of phone numbers, surround yourself with others in recovery, and continuously check your surroundings and feelings. Build a program that will keep your system for recovery in check.
Use these tips to navigate through holiday stress and frustration, so you can arrive on the shores of the new year happy, committed, and fulfilled in recovery.
There is hope for you or a loved one struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs. The Lighthouse can help your transition into a life of recovery with sober living and recovery coaching. Our admissions staff will assist you in finding the resources you need to begin your journey of recovery.
Want more happiness and fulfillment in life?
Commit to your recovery with The Lighthouse Sober Living Recovery 365.
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Call Trey Laird 203-400-8065
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