With Thanksgiving next week, many of us are feeling the pressure and excitement of the upcoming holiday season. There’s shopping to get done, family and friends to visit and all those parties that seem to pop up from now until the new year. All the festivities tend to bring lots of highs and lows. And if you’re in recovery or are close to someone in recovery, this time can be especially challenging. Being separated from family or friends can be hard this time of year. Difficult memories from past holiday seasons of overindulgence can come back to haunt us. The truth is that relapse is often a part of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, and this is a particularly easy time to surrender to that one thought of using or drinking again.
Most substance abuse or mental health professionals will tell those in recovery, no matter how long they’ve been sober, to have a holiday plan in place to avoid relapse. Here are some tips directly from Hazelden to prevent the holiday blues and stay sober this season:
Good self-care is vital. Remember to slow down. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Plan relaxation and meditation into your day, even for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are.
Don’t overindulge. Go easy on the holiday sweets and follow a balanced diet. Exercise regularly to help maintain your energy level amid a busier schedule. Don’t try to do too much. Get plenty of sleep. Maintain some kind of schedule and plan ahead.
Enhance your support system. Holidays are a good time to reach out more frequently to your therapist, sponsor, spiritual advisor, or support group. If you’re in recovery, spend time with fellow recovering people.
Find new ways to celebrate. Create some new symbols and rituals that will help redefine a joyful holiday season. Avoid isolation and spend time with people you like who are not substance users.
Focus on your recovery program. Holidays are also an important time to focus on your recovery program. For example, ask, “What am I working on in my program now?” Discuss this with your sponsor.
Release your resentments. Resentment has been described as allowing a person you dislike to live in your head, rent-free. Resentments that gain steam during the holidays can be disastrous for anyone, especially recovering people. The Big Book of “Alcoholics Anonymous” refers to resentment as the No. 1 offender, or the most common factor in failed sobriety.
Read the full article Tips for preventing the holiday blues, staying sober from Hazelden