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Handling the Holidays Sober and Happy

a holiday fest, which is a good reminder of the importance of Sobriety During The Holidays

Maintaining sobriety during the holidays isn’t always easy. People with years of successful recovery can even struggle during these times. Holidays are times of joy and celebration, but some things can make these occasions difficult. The good news is that you can overcome these feelings. Learning about your triggers and planning to overcome them can help you during these times.

At Northpoint Seattle, we know that sometimes managing holiday stress can be easier with a helping hand. If you need extra support during this holiday season or want to take the first steps toward a sober future, call 888.483.6031 or complete our free phone assessment today.

The Link Between Holidays and Sobriety Struggles

You may spend your holidays with supportive family and friends while truly enjoying activities with them. So why does relapse loom so heavily? One big reason is that relapse triggers are often around every corner during the holidays.

While every person has unique triggers, several are common during the holidays, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Being around alcohol or drugs
  • Inconsistent treatment
  • Anger
  • Changes in daily routines
  • Feeling judged
  • Feeling excluded
  • Being questioned about your sobriety

Even the most cheerful times can produce triggering events. Triggers are why people in recovery struggle with sobriety during the holidays. You don’t have to miss out on holiday fun. A bit of planning and support may help.

Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

Creating a relapse prevention plan is a great way to stay sober and help you deal with triggers during the holidays. Without a plan, you may feel a stronger urge to relapse. Knowing you have safe options can help. Your plan should be unique to meet your needs and the situations you’ll face. Start with these tips and holiday relapse prevention activities:

  • Make a list of your holiday plans and rank them – Opening presents with your parents may be a low-trigger situation. However, a large dinner with extended family can be a high-trigger situation. Jot down all of your plans and assess them. A scale of 1 to 10 works for some people, or you can simply rank situations as low, medium, or high triggers.
  • Bring a non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy – Wine is common at holiday dinners. Many people drink champagne on New Year’s Eve. Buying a few bottles of alcohol-free cider or similar drinks can help you avoid awkward questions or feeling left out. Plus, people will be less likely to offer you alcohol if you have your own drink.
  • Stick to your routine as much as possible – Holidays can be hectic. Find ways to follow your daily rituals, like your morning cup of coffee, a jog before dinner, or reading a few pages of your book. These little things can help you feel comfortable and in control.
  • Plan answers and responses ahead of time – Questions about recovery can be hard to handle. Even if people have good intentions, you may feel triggered. Come up with some responses ahead of time. Planning can make these scenarios easier.
  • Keep in touch with supportive people – Some people have sponsors from groups, while others have trusted friends or family. Reach out to your support system during holidays. A simple text or phone call can help. You can talk through a trigger or craving episode. Having others to help you is great for relapse prevention.

After you jot down your plan, keep it in your purse or wallet during the holidays. You can refer to it during tough times. Feel free to add ideas to your plan, too. You may think of more healthy coping ideas during the holidays.

Understand Emotions During Sober Holidays

It’s also important to work through the emotions you feel. A relapse prevention plan is great, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel stressed, triggered, or sad. Allow yourself to feel these emotions; just don’t let them get the best of you. Below are some tips for understanding your emotions:

  • Validate your emotions – Tell yourself, “It’s okay to feel this way.” Don’t shame yourself or believe emotions are bad. Of course, you want to be happy during the holidays, but ignoring bad feelings won’t help.
  • Remember that emotions are temporary – Sadness and stress will pass naturally. Don’t try to rush the process. Holiday stress during recovery is rough, but your bad feelings won’t last forever.
  • Remember that drug cravings are also temporary – Triggers can make you crave drugs or alcohol. Be rational about cravings; they may only last a few minutes or hours.
  • Speak about your feelings or write them down – It can help you release negative emotions and may help your long-term recovery. You can look back on the writing later on. Seeing how you overcame hard feelings can motivate you.

Overall, let yourself feel every feeling. Whether it’s good or bad, don’t ignore it. Your emotions are valid. Remembering this is important for recovery.

Holiday Stress Relief Ideas

Your relapse prevention plan has a purpose. It helps you avoid or overcome triggers. It also helps avoid negative emotions. But that isn’t always possible. You’ll need ways to relieve stress to maintain sobriety during the holidays. Here are some simple ideas for letting out your cravings and stress.

  • Spend five minutes meditating or deep breathing – Find a quiet spot where you can be alone. You can find free videos and apps for meditating. Just five minutes of these activities can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Run or walk to release energy – Get your endorphins flowing to reduce stress. Research proves that physical activity releases endorphins that make you feel good. Run, walk, or exercise until your craving passes.
  • Make a list of reasons you are in recovery – Why did you get sober? What motivates you? What are the consequences of relapse? Make a motivating list—you’ll see why you should stay sober.
  • Do a self-care activity – This can be something simple that you enjoy. Take a hot, relaxing bath. Give yourself a manicure. Watch a funny movie. These activities pass the time and ensure you’re taking care of yourself.

Hopefully, stress and cravings will be minor. But if they aren’t, that’s okay. There are healthy ways to relieve stress. Doing these things can help you enjoy your holidays sober and happy.

Treating Addiction During the Holidays at Northpoint Seattle

If you’re struggling with addiction, we’re here for you. Our compassionate staff members work with you one-on-one to create a unique, evidence-based treatment plan. Call 888.483.6031 or contact us online to get started today.