Staying sober in recovery is challenging any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. The holiday season is full of social commitments and family gatherings that can center on alcohol consumption, pressure to feel joyous, and family traditions that might serve as triggers. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to stay sober this season.
Know Your Triggers
First, know what your triggers are so that you can plan how to manage them. Triggers might be something as simple as watching another person drink alcohol, or it could be an argument you get into with your partner that has nothing to do with the holidays.
If you take time to check in with how you feel throughout the season, you’ll be better equipped to reflect on sources of emotional distress for you. Activities like journaling or meditation can help you identify triggers that may lead to a relapse. Understanding your personal triggers can help you develop coping mechanisms.
For example, for many people, family conflict is an especially potent trigger, and it’s more likely to take place during the holidays simply because the family is all together. If you believe that family conflict is a trigger for you, you can utilize tools like mindfulness techniques or meditation when conflict arises so that you can manage how you are feeling and not overreact or let other people weigh you down emotionally.
Have boundaries and reinforce them during the holidays. You might do something as simple as ask your family to refrain from consuming alcohol at family gatherings during the holidays. Loved ones should be happy to work with you in these small ways by making the holiday party a mocktail or hot chocolate theme.
Those boundaries might also mean you have to say no to things, especially if you ask people to respect certain boundaries and they don’t. Staying sober during the holidays might hinge on your ability to say no in situations that you are well aware will be strong emotional triggers for you or which leave you feeling vulnerable.
Create Sober Events
Staying sober during the holidays can be very difficult if you receive several invitations from friends and family to parties where you know alcohol will be a central component or where drug use is prominent.
One way to avoid this entirely is to create your own sober events. This can include gatherings like:
- Hot chocolate bars
- Movie nights at your house
- Walks in the park
- Themed holiday parties with mocktails
When you create your events, you can easily note on invitations that it will be an alcohol-free event. You can also host events in the middle of the day rather than in the evening, so people are less likely to want to bring and consume alcohol.
One nice aspect of creating sober events yourself is that you have more control over who comes and who doesn’t, which means you can be open and honest with those who receive an invitation that you are currently in recovery, and they need to respect your journey by participating in the event without alcohol.
It’s also something that you can control if you are struggling financially. Financial strain can be a significant hardship whether or not you are in recovery, and there are plenty of free or fairly inexpensive events you can create as your way of socializing and staying sober during the holidays.
Get Extra Help
Staying sober during the holidays might not be easy, especially if this is your first year in recovery or your first year dealing with a recently diagnosed mental health condition. Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra help. This extra help could come in several forms, such as:
- Support group meetings
- Extra individual therapy sessions
- NA or AA meetings
- Professional outpatient treatment
Facilities like Water Gap Wellness Center can help you develop coping mechanisms that apply all year round, but especially during the holidays when you are most likely to struggle with triggers and relapse.
Outpatient mental health services at Water Gap Wellness Center can be customized to your schedule so that you can fit your treatment into a couple of weeks of vacation time or in and around other professional or personal obligations. Our Pennsylvania mental health retreat offers treatment for mental health conditions as well as drug rehab services near New York and New Jersey.
Staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge for many people, but there are several steps you can take in order to ensure you have the right resources, the right coping skills, and the right support in your time of need.
Don’t wait to get help. If you are struggling with your sobriety and are experiencing a lot of triggers, you can learn coping strategies to help avoid a relapse with our outpatient programs. Call us today.