Here's some tips for a relapse-free holiday from Gulf Breeze Recovery.
Holidays are a time of celebration with a multitude of activities spent with friends and families; however, for people in recovery, it can also be a time of temptation to use again. Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your holidays. Taking time to prepare for what could be stumbling blocks to your sobriety can help.
Before the holiday bustle gets into full swing, consider what part of your typical holiday celebration most often leads to temptation for you. Is it those after work happy hours that well meaning friends encourage you to attend? Is it the family celebrations where food and alcohol are plentiful? Is it your alone time when it feels that everyone else is enjoying the holidays and you are sad and lonely? Is it the overwhelming rat-race of rushing and shopping and overextending your energy as well as your bank account?
Having a wonderful holiday season and maintaining your sobriety is absolutely doable
Honestly evaluate the risk to your sobriety for each item on your list. If an event is going to be extremely difficult or overwhelming for you, it is okay to skip it. Your long-term sobriety is more valuable than a holiday event.Perhaps you can enlist the help of a person who is supportive to your recovery to be the person you socialize with most at the event. You can also plan on not spending a lot of time at the event. You can arrive late, wish everyone a happy holiday and leave early.
Remember to not take your thinking too seriously. You don’t have to follow a thought just because it pops into your head. Perhaps the thought might be, “I should be able to drink and/or use recreationally like all my friends do.” Instead of following the thought and the self-pity, remember that you are grateful to have found sobriety. You can let the thought come and go without putting an action behind it.
You can also change your usual holiday traditions to better fit with your sober lifestyle. Do something for others that you may have never done before – volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen, or ring bells for the Salvation Army.
Be aware of becoming too tired, or too hungry, and how those things can affect your mood. Take care of yourself. That is extremely important, and you are worth it.
Don’t expect holidays to be perfect. It is often in the imperfections that memories are made. It is the times when things didn’t go as expected that become the stories that are retold year after year. Remember the year that the turkey was burnt, and we all ordered Chinese carry-out for dinner? How about when the big snow storm stopped all flights, and we had to celebrate two days late?
Perhaps this is the year to downsize the holidays to make them more enjoyable and less hectic. Shorten your holiday gift list, focusing most on those closest to you. Suggest to family, friends or coworkers giving donations to a charity rather than buying gifts that no one really needs. Make your most important present be your presence – where you are truly present and enjoying the moment.
Being grateful is important all year long, but around the holidays it can be especially so. Take a few moments anytime you notice feeling stressed to take a couple of deep breaths and mentally list five things for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to impact the world, just as long as it is meaningful to you. Notice how you feel after your deep breaths and the brief time you spent being grateful.
Maintaining your sobriety through the holidays without a relapse doesn’t have to be painful. You can do it! Make it your plan.
Gulf Breeze Recovery is a substance abuse treatment center that specializes in overcoming chronic relapse. If you or someone you care about, has an ongoing history of substance use and/or relapse, contact us at Gulf Breeze Recovery or call: (855) 433-4480 to speak to an addiction expert to learn more about our program that has helped so many people overcome their addiction and embrace life. We help people not just to survive, but to THRIVE®.
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