The holidays are often a stressful and emotional time for recovery individuals, especially if the individual is in early sobriety. Travel, parties and gatherings with family and friends can be particularly stressful when a recovering individual is trying to maintain newly acquired patterns of behaviors that are known to safeguard recovery.
You may ask, how someone in early stages of sobriety can prepare for parties and gatherings where alcohol will be present? Planning ahead and having a set of rules and guidelines in place is the best option to sail through the holidays without issues.
The tips provided below have traditionally been helpful to those in recovery.
Events, Parties and Family Gatherings
You don’t have to go! – Know your limits. If you feel that attending an event is going to stress you out, don’t go. People will understand. Your sobriety comes first.
It’s OK to Tell Others You Are in Recovery – If your recovery is not a private matter and you feel comfortable telling people you are in recovery and can’t drink, do so. You may be surprised at their support and understanding. Practice what you are going to say so you’ll feel at ease with your message.
Bring a Sober Friend – Having a sober companion is one of the best ways to face social situations where there may be alcohol. Your common goal and sense of accountability will make you both stronger in the face of temptation.
Hold a Non-Alcoholic Drink – If you have a glass in your hand like everybody else you will feel more comfortable. Others are less likely to offer a drink to someone already holding one.
Dance! Mingle! Have Fun! – Just because you don’t drink it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. And what is even better, no hangover the following day!
Call a Friend After the Party – Let a sober friend know you may be calling them to check in after you get back from the party. If you feel stressed or pressured, a friendly voice can make a world of difference.
Give Yourself a Curfew – By setting up a time to leave the party, you can make sure to get enough rest keeping stress at bay. As you continue your efforts in making positive healthy choices you stay on the path that leads to emotional health as well.
Attend Support Meetings – If you are going out of town make sure you have researched and selected a place to attend support meetings.
Stick to Your Self Care Plan – Make sure you eat consciously and get enough rest during this time. Get plenty of exercise and take time to relax.
Stay Busy – Avoid isolation. Time spent with sober family and friends can calm and comfort you. You can also try doing something different depending on where you live, like hiking, skiing, ice-skating or just plain sightseeing. The goal is to make yourself feel better. So, if traditional things during the holidays are trigger factors for you, by all means do something different.
Whether you are staying in town, attending parties and events or traveling, remind yourself how grateful your are for your recovery accomplishments, big or small. That state of the mind will help you stay focused on our journey.
One more thing. This is the season of giving. Helping others by volunteering can give you a different kind of high, a “helpers’ high”. Helping others is contagious and studies show that it improves wellbeing. Improved happiness as a result of volunteering also leads to reduced depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
We at LICR hope you and yours have a joyous holiday season.