Tips for surviving the holidays in early sobriety:
The holidays can be a hard time for those early in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Here are some tips for successful sober living during the holiday season:
- Try not to place yourself in situations where others are using drugs and alcohol. Whether it is old friends or family, remember to advocate for yourself when you feel uncomfortable. You may need to ask your old friends to respect your new sobriety and not use drugs or drink around you. Likewise, you may feel uncomfortable with family drinking with dinner on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah. Let your friends and family know that you need their support. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
- Remember to use supports in your community. Whether you are at home or traveling, there are likely AA and NA meetings where you are. Remember that you have these meetings as a resource and excuse yourself to attend a meeting if you need some space from family or need a safe place to share about any challenges you are having. While you are at the meeting, you can also get another person’s phone number and ask them if you can call to check in later if you are feeling triggered.
- Get plenty of exercise. Exercise elevates mood, alleviates anxiety and is good for your physical health as well. Get out for a walk or run or hit the gym.
- Think about service to others. Ask your family or significant other what you can do for them. We have a tendency to think about material things during the holidays. Instead, think about what you can do for other people. This will help get you “out of your head” and focus on the needs of others. Ultimately, many of our problems solve themselves when we turn our attention to how we can help others.
- Watch what you eat. Everyone eats a bit too much around the holidays. But, eating an entire box of cookies, pint of ice cream or pound cake is not a recipe for feeling good! Eating too many carbs or too much fat in one sitting will leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish. Enjoy your meals on the holiday itself but in the days before and after try and eat a normal diet so you are functioning at the optimal level (both mentally and physically).
- Do some activities you enjoy! Do you like to snowboard, skateboard, run, bike, fish, snowshoe, paint, play guitar etc? If so, take some time to do what you love during the holiday season!