Holiday Self-Care Tips to Stay Sober throughout the Season
Why is it that when we talk about the holidays and stress, we resign ourselves to accept the fact that it’s a chaotic time of year and we’ve all just got to keep pushing along, somehow we’ll make it through? Between the addition of commitments at work, and at home, holiday gatherings, and house-guests, travel, and generally busier than normal schedules, somehow we seem to turn a time of thanksgiving and reflection into a time of absolute chaos leaving us incredibly vulnerable and facing a multitude of triggers that could potentially lead to relapse. Many teachings, Biblical teachings of the season, and others that are non-denominational tell us to "rest" and "reflect," but we fail to follow through. So what about our own rest?
Staying sober during the holidays can certainly present more challenges than the “average” day. Not only are we facing the fact that we’re over-committed and under-prepared, but there’s also all those memories that come back. Yea, they call it “nostalgia,” but for some of us, it’s traumatic.
For many, drugs and alcohol were once the way of shutting the doors on the trauma, stress, and strain of the holiday season, a way of numbing the emotions. And as we face the challenge of navigating the holiday season sober, we’re presented with bits and pieces of past memories that tug at our emotions, one by one, slowly unraveling our sobriety and our sanity like an ugly holiday sweater.
The holidays don’t have to be quite so hectic, and you certainly don’t have to risk the sobriety you’ve worked so hard to achieve for some holiday party or extra event on your calendar. Give yourself grace this holiday season and know that you have the power (and the right) to say “NO” to over-commitments, unrealistic expectations, and anything else that comes up this time of year and threatens to derail your recovery!
If you’re struggling to find the support you need, these holiday self-care tips to stay sober throughout the season might help you out a bit, especially if you’re in early recovery or if this is your very first holiday sober! (Congratulations by the way, pat yourself on the back! You absolutely deserve to be happy and proud of your sobriety!)
De-Stress & Practice Holiday Self-Care Tips to Stay Sober
First and foremost, you’ll be amazed at how much your mind and body can handle – that is, until all of a sudden, it can’t take anymore! It’s always funny how some of us are so incredibly capable of handling stress, and others not so much. Really it’s all about figuring out what stresses you out the most, and what relaxes you best. Avoid the stressors, and take up the relaxing tasks (as long as they’re healthy and safe). Paying attention to your body, and your mind, and listening to what your body has to say to you about how you’re feeling and how your managing stress is important because your body will actually send you early clues that remind you to take steps to de-stress and to relax.
If you’ve never actually practiced self-care, you might be surprised at how much the simple act of reading a book, taking a bath, or meditating for just 5-10 minutes at a time can really go a long way in de-stressing your body, and your mind so that you can feel more empowered to handle the tasks that won’t go away on their own. Of course, it’s also important that you understand you don’t have to take on every holiday party that you’re invited to, you don’t have to welcome ALL of the houseguests, and you certainly don’t have to do everything on that never-ending to-do list this holiday season.
Find Your Joy
The holidays are actually a time of reflection and connection. This is a great time to find your joy. Rather than get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, find what makes you feel good about the holiday season. Maybe that’s sharing your sobriety story with others and making connections on Pocket Rehab? Maybe it’s building up a stronger sense of community, attending a group or a meeting with others that are trying to stay sober this holiday season just like you? Or maybe it’s baking a big batch of cookies to share with family.
You might find that all of those things bring you joy one day, and on another day, when things are busy, you might find that simply taking five minutes to ground yourself in meditation is what brings you the most joy. Again, the best holiday self-care tips for staying sober revolve around what’s right for you, and not so much what matters to someone else! Listen to your body, your mind, and your spirit – and do what makes you feel strong and focused on your sobriety.
Avoid Known Triggers & Risks
You’re likely to face a plethora of holiday invites to parties and gatherings. You know which ones are likely to be safe for your recovery and those that could pose significant risks to your sobriety. Be mindful of the gatherings you attend, and consider bringing a sober buddy or sober companion with you for support. If you know that a particular gathering is going to be focused more on drinking than on “gathering” it’s okay to pass on the invite, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay home alone or feel isolated from having a good time. Consider a night out with a sober friend so that you don’t feel like you missed out, you’ll be happy that you made the healthy choice for you and for your recovery.
Make a Plan for Staying Sober & Taking Care of Yourself
While you can take all of the above steps to avoid holiday parties that are known booze events, and you can make time for yourself for self-care, you’re still going to face triggers or situations that have the potential to completely derail your recovery. For this reason, it’s important to initiate a plan for your sobriety just in case. What will you do if you find yourself at a party that has turned from a traditional holiday gathering to a traditional college sorority fest?
Having a plan in place, a sober friend that can stop what they’re doing and talk to you or help you out of a situation that you’re uncomfortable in is not just important, it could be absolutely vital to your sobriety. Make sure that you’re connecting with your support network regularly throughout the holiday season, and that you’re remaining accountable for your sobriety.
Always make sure you have your own transportation to and from any holiday party you attend. Don’t let others order drinks for you and don’t ever leave your drink unattended! If you find yourself uncomfortable in any way, get out!
Navigating the holidays can be incredibly challenging, and potentially triggering. In recovery, it’s very important that you set boundaries and expectations for yourself, and for those you share your time with. Make it very clear to loved ones and friends that your recovery is most important and that you are committed to staying sober this holiday season, so any interactions that risk that sobriety will be nixed from your holiday plans – for good!
Tags: sobriety, sober holidays, self-care, sober living, staying sober, joy, gratitude, relapse prevention