In an ideal world, the holidays should be a time of merriment and gratitude. But for many people, it’s a triggering time that sees them face family tensions, extra stress, and the pressure of high expectations. These factors can make it difficult for anyone to stay sober over the holiday season; that difficulty is raised for anyone in recovery or struggling with addictions. We will examine some ideas on how to stay sober and on the right path throughout the holidays.
At some point in the holiday season, most people deal with family–nuclear and extended—and this can be a huge stressor. Family time can be wrought with bad history/memories, conflicting opinions, and unreasonable expectations. Despite the best intentions, holiday family gatherings are inevitable and a breeding ground for stress.
Holiday parties thrown by employers can be extremely awkward. Employees have to navigate how to mingle with bosses and coworkers with the right amount of friendliness but not overdo it to the point of humiliation. Combine that with alcohol, which is usually served at many of these parties, and you have a recipe for a professional disaster.
Whether it’s for gifts, food, drinks, gas or airfare, there are a number of extra expenses incurred during the holidays. If you are already on a tight budget, the added costs can leave you stressed and worried.
Focus on Support
When it comes to family gatherings, find an AA meeting near your home or near the home of the host of your family events. If you find yourself in a compromising position or notice that you are beginning to stress out, reach out to your support system and let them know you need to rely on their help to carry you through the tensions. Besides a meeting, you could also enlist a close friend or family member you trust to help guide you through the turbulence. Talk therapy is always a great resource; if you can’t find a therapist to see in real time, there are a lot of new apps that allow you to talk to someone on your phone or online.
Set Boundaries Ahead of Time
If you know you have bad influences in your office, among your peer group or in your family, it’s a good idea to be proactive and work out your boundaries before the stressful events occur. Identify who you should avoid altogether, who you can only handle in small doses, and for how long. It might also be good to have set dialogue for how to ask for space or set the necessary boundary. If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words, a therapist might be really helpful with this process.
Stick To A Budget
If you do plan on giving gifts or find yourself forced to travel, set a budget for how much you can realistically spend on everyone. If your travel plans use up the majority of that budget, you can create your own gifts: handcrafted items, poems or stories. Or, offer your time and plan visits with those you wish to give gifts to. Get creative in your gift-giving and you can rein in your spending.
Participate in Games/Activities
This is apropos for both family gatherings and an employee party. There are many board games, card games, holiday-themed raffles, and contests that you can partake in to keep you busy and away from alcohol-fueled activities.
Contributing a dessert or some type of traditional holiday dish is a great way to participate in any event without requiring the consumption of any alcohol. Sharing the recipe is a great conversation starter and telling the tradition of why the dish is special for the holiday celebration is also a great way to engage and interact.
Holiday Movie Marathons
There are a number of holiday movie specials and classic films shown throughout the season. You could pick your favorites, get some snacks and have a marathon, or spread them out throughout the season so you still feel as though you are indulging in the spirit of the time without courting any trouble. You can watch the movie alone for some needed recharge time or you could invite a number of friends over if you want to make it a social event.
There are a number of ways to make it through the holidays with your sobriety in check. If you still struggle, there’s no shame in that. Clear Life Recovery is always here to help keep you on a good path or even to help you start on a new one. If you, or someone you know, need more assistance or information, don’t be afraid to reach out.