Coming home for he holidays sober for the first time can be a difficult experience. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so it may seem. The holidays bring together family and distant relatives along with a whole host of other stress factors that can leave you feeling anxious, insecure, resentful or just plain down in the dumps. Here are some tips that will carry you through so you can make it through this season and stay sober.
- Be prepared: Have a plan. Whether you are staying in town or leaving for the holidays, keep up with your meetings and have a set schedule that you will stick to. Also, plan your “escape” from any potentially triggering situations.
- Stay connected: Set call times with people in your sober support network; a sponsor, therapist or sober friend can keep you grounded when you feel yourself starting to lose it. Bookend holiday events or parties with a quick check-in phone call before and after with someone who can help you out with a sober pep-talk.
- Pause when agitated: A potentially triggering argument or resentment can be avoided if you stick to this mantra. Remember that meditation in recovery, restraint of pen and tongue can completely make the difference between a tense family dynamic and stress free holiday fun.
- Stay busy- Ask what you can do to help. Be of service at a family dinner. Volunteer and ask for tasks be helpful in the kitchen. Keeping busy will keep you out of your head.
- Take opposite action: Acting on first impulse isn’t always a safe bet. Taking contrary action can be uncomfortable but it can keep you from falling back into familiar patterns that lead you into trouble.
- Have no expectations: Holding yourself and others to unattainable standards can lead to disappointment. This can leave you feeling all those negative feelings that you are trying to avoid in the first place. So don’t set yourself up disaster.
- Avoid self pity: Shaming yourself or wallowing in your own negative self talk won’t lead you anywhere pleasant. Stay positive and focus on all the good things your have accomplished.
- Family Drama: Avoid gossip or getting involved in other people’s drama. If people try to vent about their drama with another family member, direct them to addressing that person directly.
- Compare and Despair: This can be very dangerous especially when being in the company of family. Try not to compare your insides to others outsides, meaning just because your cousin Joe has the great job, car, new wife etc. that doesn’t mean he is necessarily happy and problem free in his own life. Keep everything in perspective.
- Stay in gratitude: Remember just how bad things used to be and how far you have come. Making a gratitude list or simply reflecting on the good things in your life will keep your in a good headspace so you will be heavily armed against the first drink.
If you follow these 10 tips, it’s a sure-fire way to get through the holidays without having to raise your hand again as a newcomer. Make sure your friends and family know how to interact with a treatment client coming home for the Holidays. Seasons Greetings!