Company parties, neighborhood get-togethers, and family gatherings all add up to a lot of pressure for anyone recovering from a chemical dependence, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. But with a little discipline, a strong commitment and support from within yourself and people you trust, you can get through this stressful period sober.
Commit Before the Event
Use your personal energy and strength before the party to reinforce your commitment to sobriety. Whether it’s through meditation, prayer, or a personal affirmation, remind yourself that the gathering is just a tiny blip in time.
Prepare responses ahead of time for avoiding drinking or using behavior by saying you’re the designated driver or you have an early morning commitment and need to be fresh and alert first thing in the morning.
Look for healthy alternatives. Most holiday parties feature a wide selection of food and treats. Give yourself permission to indulge at the buffet table instead of the bar. Sample those that look intriguing, and focus on how delicious the food as a way to redirect an otherwise uncomfortable conversation.
Stick to Priorities
Don’t let the pressures of the celebrations and parties around the holidays influence your behavior. The time you spend at those and their value to you are small compared to living well for the rest of your life. Your physical, mental and spiritual health are more important than anything else you have. Spend enough time with friends and family who support you because they’re the ones who mean the most.
Go for the safe indulgences, but remember it’s important to maintain healthy eating habits throughout the holidays. What you eat does affect your mind and body. Use a journal to express thoughts and feelings if you that writing them down helps you. Try not to let too many holiday activities interrupt your exercise schedule. It’s just as important as food for maintaining a good attitude, especially during stressful periods. If you are short on time, do small things like parking further away and walking or using the stairs instead of the elevator. Anything you can do to raise your endorphins will increase your sense of well-being and promote your overall health.
Say No Sometimes
No one knows better than you do how much socializing you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to turn invitations down when your enthusiasm wanes. It’s better to beg off from something that will stress you out, rather than go and be uncomfortable. If you must make an appearance, bring along a supportive friend or family member whom you trust. It may change your attitude from dread to pleasant anticipation.
Change It up This Year
Instead of relying on all the traditions you’ve inherited and the memories they carry, start some new ones. Hold some brainstorming sessions around the kitchen table about new things you can do to celebrate or acknowledge the meaning of holidays for you. Acknowledge the resistance some friends or family members may have about leaving some things behind and trying what’s new. Being honest about why you need something new this year in a positive way.
Share Something of Yourself
Substitute party time or some of your downtime with others who need help. The demand for volunteers at local organizations is always high and much needed. Single out the talents you have, your key interests, and how much time you have to share. And don’t rule out the spontaneous act of giving. The personal rewards from making life better for someone else are enormous.
Give Yourself Kudos
As the days go by during the holiday season, acknowledge that your commitment to abstain takes courage. The more you exercise your strength to maintain sobriety, the more it will increase, making you a stronger and healthier person.