Holiday Socializing Can Be Stressful
The holiday season is a time for socializing with family and friends, whether at dinners, parties, or online gatherings for larger groups. The extra social time can be happy and exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially for those in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. The social expectations, financial stress, hectic schedules, and past memories of drinking alcohol or using drugs at this time of year are all stressors that could lead to relapse. By being aware of your stressors and having a plan for self-care, you can stay healthy and maintain your sobriety while celebrating the holiday season.
Our addiction treatment program in Tennessee offers six tips to stay sober during the holidays while still having fun.
Be Okay with Saying No
Carefully think about the invitations you receive. If you are not comfortable going to a family dinner because a relative or two tends to trigger your urge to drink or do drugs, it is okay to decline the invitation. If large online gatherings stress you out, respectfully decline. Maintaining your sobriety is more important than attending the dinner or the party.
Plan Ahead What to Say
If you will see people who do not know you are in recovery, plan ahead what to say if they offer you a drink or ask you why you are not drinking. If you do not want to tell them you are in recovery, you could say that you are driving tonight, have early morning plans, are trying to stay healthy, or are taking medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol. Sometimes a simple, “No, thank you” is all you have to say. You do not owe anyone an explanation.
Have an Exit Plan
If you attend a gathering where people are drinking, have an exit plan so you can leave if you feel uncomfortable. For example, if you are having dinner with your family and then exchanging gifts, plan to leave after that if you know the holiday celebration will continue with drinking throughout the evening. Go see a movie, visit a sober friend, or simply go home and relax. Always take your own vehicle, so you can leave when you want.
Take Someone With You
If possible, bring a sober buddy to any gathering you attend. If you cannot take anyone with you, make arrangements to text or call someone, such as your sponsor or a supportive friend, periodically throughout the evening. This is a great way to have some built-in accountability.
Create Holiday Joy that Works for You
Do the things that make you happy during the holidays instead of doing the things you think you should be doing. If baking holiday cookies for your family is stressful and not fun, don’t do it. If you want cookies, buy them instead. If you have always wanted to volunteer at a nursing home, shelter, or food bank, do it. By focusing on holiday activities you enjoy, the season will be less stressful.
If You Need Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, now is the time to get help. At English Mountain Recovery, our professional, caring team will guide you through your gender-specific recovery using a program rooted in the 12 Steps. Take action against your addiction. Call us today to begin your journey to a clean and sober life.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.