By Rose Lockinger
The holiday season can be particularly difficult for people. It is a time of year when many reflect on years gone by.They reflect on the happy and sad times they’ve spent with loved one and they think about the people that are no longer with them. It is a time that is meant to be spent with family and for some people this is either not possible, or being with their family is inordinately difficult. The scenes and smells emanating through the air during the holidays are meant to express a time of joy and love, but if you are one of the people who experiences depression during the holidays, these things just make it all the more difficult to deal with. This brings to mind what they refer to as people, places and things or as a more technical term triggers. These are things that bring back old memories the holidays for me are one that are especially difficult.
For alcoholics and addicts this time of year can be even more difficult than it is for people who do not suffer from an addiction. For one there is usually an abundance of liquor flowing throughout the holidays, which for someone who is already feeling down can be a dangerous thing, and they cannot escape like other people by simply picking up a drink or drug. No, alcoholics and addicts have to weather the storm of the holidays with only sober tools at their disposal and because of this it is no wonder that treatment centers usually start to fill up come the beginning of January.
That being said, getting through the holiday season sober does not need to be an insurmountable task. It does not need to be a time of year that you begrudgingly can’t wait to end and by just following a few simple suggestions, you can make it through this upcoming holiday season sober, with little to no emotional damage being caused.
Tips of Staying Sober Through the Holidays
Whether your fear about the holidays is in relation to the fact that you will not be spending it with your family, or that you will be spending it with your family, the tips below will help you to make it to January sober and happy.
· Keep up with your meetings
If you are traveling home for the holidays then getting to meetings can sometime be difficult. More than likely you will not have a car with you and you may or may not know where the meetings in the area are held, but make sure that you don’t go too long without going to a meeting. Not only is this important for the maintenance of your recovery, but it can also give you a much needed excuse to break away from family if you get overwhelmed.
· Limit your time spent with relatives who push your buttons
We all have relatives who just seem to intuitively know how to rile us up. Before getting sober we may have engaged with these people, getting into arguments or just silently scorning them as we stuck around for longer than needed. Now that you are sober you no longer have to do this and you can limit the amount of time that you spend with people who do not know how to treat you correctly. You do not need to be rude, but you can walk away, set boundaries, and limit the time that you spend with them.
· Have an exit strategy if you start to get cravings
If you find that you are uncomfortable being around all of the liquor that is being served at a particular family function then be sure to have an exit strategy. This may mean that you make arrangements with a family member so that you can borrow their car to go to a meeting, or if this is not possible then have a plan to be able to go out for a walk, make a phone call and clear your head for a minute.
· Try not to spend the holidays alone
Some people do not have the option of spending the holidays with their family and this can be a great cause for concern for alcoholics and addicts. Whether this be because they are not on good terms with their family, they are incapable of making it home for the holidays, or their family is no longer around, spending the holidays away from family can be tough. So if you find yourself in this situation reach out to friends and make plans for the holidays so that you do not have to sit home alone stuck with your thoughts.
· Have reasonable expectations on the holidays
One thing that usually results in the holiday blues is our ability to over estimate what the holidays will feel like. I remember when I was a child I would do this all of the time on Christmas and when the last present was opened I would usually become sad and feel let down. Keeping this in mind, go into the holidays with a reasonable expectation. Just because you are sober doesn’t mean that everything is going to perfect, so just try to stay in the moment, be present, and allow the holidays to unfold as they may. Doing this will help you avoid the let down of not having your expectations being met.
· Be care of what you eat or drink
During the holidays there is usually a lot of food and drink to be had and sometimes these things may have liquor in them without our even knowing. Being conscious of the things that you put into your body is a good way to avoid accidently ingesting alcohol, which could possibly lead to problems.
While the holidays can be a tough time for people, getting through them sober does not need to be. By just following the six suggestions above, you should be able to make it through this holiday season with your sobriety intact, and who knows maybe you will actually enjoy the holidays this year. Part of sobriety is building new memories and creating new experiences. This year you can create a new reference point for your brain to go too. So Happy almost Holidays and I hope that this helped.
-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.