The holiday season is a time you will find many people feeling holly, jolly, merry, and bright. Family members and friends gather from all over to rejoice and celebrate this time full of tradition, giving, eating, and drinking. However, the holidays are also known to increase feelings of stress for many. Whether you turn to substances to help you cope with overwhelming emotions, have an urge to have a cocktail to fit in at a holiday party, or don’t have a strong relationship with your family, this time of year has various triggers for someone in recovery.
Here are some tips to help prevent relapse and keep your season full of holiday cheer:
1. Identify Your Triggers
It is not abnormal to feel stressed, uncomfortable, or overwhelmed in certain situations when you are in recovery. These situations or experiences that stir up these negative emotions are most commonly recognized as triggers. A trigger can include a person, place, sound, smell, or feeling that creates a desire to turn to a substance. It is critical for someone in recovery to be able to identify their triggers so they can actively avoid them. Before diving into the depths of the holidays, acknowledge your triggers and be aware of techniques to help you overcome them.
2. Have a Plan
One of the most successful techniques to prevent relapse is to plan out each day. By creating a plan of productivity to accomplish specific goals throughout the day, you reduce your risk of turning to a substance. This technique allows you to focus on healthy goals and prepare you for any gaps or changes in your regular schedule that may occur.
3. Control Your Stress
Unfortunately, stress is inevitable. It is a feeling everyone is familiar with, and no one can avoid. Feelings of stress can impact our lives both physically and emotionally, making us feel less than our best. For those in recovery, anxiety and stress can also be some of the most common triggers. That is why it is essential to manage your feelings of stress in healthy ways. Getting adequate amounts of sleep, exercising, going outside, and spending time with loved ones are just some of the many ways to combat your stress.
4. Bring Your Own Beverage
If you plan to go to a few holiday parties this season, don’t hesitate to bring the party with you! At any holiday gathering, the host will likely serve. Discuss with the host that you are packing a cooler of your favorite safe beverages and snacks to have less temptation around you. Packing along some of your preferred food and drinks will allow you to feel in control of your situation. If you don’t feel comfortable telling the host why you brought food and drink, that is also okay! Your sobriety is your business, and you can manage it the way you feel most comfortable.
5. Practice Saying No
During any holiday celebration, people may offer to get you a beverage. Prepare for this instance by practicing saying no ahead of time. It can often be challenging to say no to people, especially when they are offering to make a kind gesture. However, it is crucial that you feel comfortable doing so. By practicing for this moment, you will be more comfortable once you are at a party and in that specific situation.
6. Prepare Your Answers
Just as you practice saying no, you may also want to prepare an answer in case someone asks you why you aren’t drinking. This is a common question and can be very triggering for someone in recovery. Remember, your recovery is your business, and there is no pressure to share your situation with anyone. That is why it is advised to prepare an answer ahead of time, so you don’t feel caught off guard if you are asked this question.
7. Have a Holiday Buddy
If you have a friend staying sober or a friend you trust to hold you accountable, speak with them about being your holiday buddy. You will feel more comfortable attending holiday dinners and gatherings knowing your buddy is there to lean on if you are in a stressful situation. Choose someone who will make you laugh or be willing to leave the party early if you don’t feel comfortable being there any longer.
8. Stick to Your Routine
When you are in recovery, having a routine is vital to your success. Routine provides you with structure and predictability, leaving little room to stray toward the use of substances. Although attending parties and gatherings can interrupt your routine, you can build them into your schedule, so you aren’t left feeling out of your normal rhythm.
9. Let Yourself Have Fun
Just because you are in recovery doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Allow yourself to spend quality time with your loved ones and do things you enjoy to celebrate the season. Prohibiting yourself from attending any events to try and protect yourself from any triggers could be triggering in itself. Spending time connecting with others and catching up with friends is always good for your soul.
10. Seek Help at Cedar Oaks Wellness Center
If you struggle with substance use, you are not alone. The team at Cedar Oaks Wellness Center understands there is no cookie-cutter approach to treatment. That is why we offer various therapy programs to our clients, allowing them to select the options that work best for them.