Ho-ho-holy crap, the holiday season is upon us once again!
Living a happy and healthy lifestyle already comes with challenges, especially for those new to recovery. The holiday season, however, presents with a unique set of triggers that put users at risk for a lapse. With shorter days, holiday parties, and time away from work, it is easy to lose track of the routines you set up to maintain positive change throughout the rest of the year.
So here are my tips – You ready? I recommend sitting inside your room for the whole month of December, watching your whole Netflix queue, and not, by any means, talking to anyone.
…. Just kidding. People outside of the field sometimes tell me that recovery is the most difficult around the holidays… birthdays… summer time… and Friday nights… So… All the time? My thinking is, yes — the holidays can be difficult, but the same relapse prevention tools apply for all times of the year. So, consider this as just a friendly reminder.
Being able to recognize high-risk times ahead may help you plan for alternative options. If you’re going to miss that self-help meeting due to a family event, how about looking up another meeting earlier in the day or reaching out to a sober friend for extra support? Whether you’re into AA, SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or something else, they have resources! Plus, you can now attend self-help meetings online! I also recommend using something like Meetup, where you can find like-minded individuals anywhere with any interest. Comes in especially handy if you’re traveling somewhere and don’t know many people.
Listen to Yourself
Nobody knows your body and your recovery better than you. Don’t risk a lapse by ignoring your instincts. If the thought of going to the huge work holiday party sends shivers down your spine, give yourself permission to say no and perhaps suggest a more low-key get-together with the colleagues you’re closest to. Check out examples of refusal skills provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to get some ideas.
Even if you are the most controlled person ever, it is easy to get carried away with winter fun – shopping, snowball fights (apologies to my Southern readers, but those are really fun!), family gatherings, etc. Make sure to set aside some quiet time for yourself, even if it’s a fifteen-minute walk around the block or round of meditation. This will help you stay attuned to your feelings and surroundings. Explore quick and easy meditation techniques that can be utilized anytime anywhere.
Not literally. Although, it could also be literally. Change in routine can be extremely frustrating, but try to remind yourself that this is temporary. If you realize you can’t go to that yoga class three times a week like you always do, just take a step back and see if there is another healthy activity you can fit in during another time. You don’t have to have all the answers; that’s the beauty of resilience.
Early recovery can often seem boring and isolating, especially during the holidays, but that in no way means you can’t still enjoy yourself. Get inspired with this video from SoberNation! Do some research, call up some friends, and see what kind of sober events are available in your area. Or, if you’re feeling ballsy enough, why not start your own event or tradition?
Happy holidays to you and yours! We would love to hear from you, so scroll on down and tell us how you spend your holidays!