The holiday season presents challenges for everyone. Family dynamics, social commitments, travel, financial stress, employers, children, and more add pressure to the most wonderful time of the year. For those in recovery, the holidays can be even more challenging to navigate. Follow these steps to set yourself up for success this year.
Identify Potential Triggers
While some of the dangers associated with the holiday season are universal, others are highly individual. Feelings of grief and loss are often exacerbated during the holidays. The lifestyle changes that come with recovery and sobriety may feel awkward or uncomfortable at social gatherings. Take the time to brainstorm your triggers with your therapist or sponsor to avoid being caught off-guard.
Stick to the Routine
You've set up a recovery routine that's been working for you, so stick to it! Be sure to keep attending your favorite meetings, hitting the gym, meditating, taking medication as prescribed, seeing your therapist, eating right, and getting enough sleep. It's tempting to forgo the things that have been keeping your recovery stable in favor of the special holiday events. Minimize the risk and continue with what works for you.
Because some of the difficulties around the holidays are predictable, planning ahead might be the most valuable tool of all. The holiday season means irregular hours for some businesses, so schedule therapy, psychiatric, and medical appointments well in advance. Plan where you'll go for which holidays, giving special consideration to who you'll be around and how they support your recovery. It's often easier to make a game plan with key people in your support system ahead of time, so start addressing any concerns you may have now. Will you be traveling? Find meetings near your travel destination, and research transportation so you know you'll be able to get there. How do you respond when asked about sobriety? Realistically, how will you respond when encouraged to drink or use? You'll never regret preparing for the worst case scenario.
Make an Escape Plan
Even the best plans can go awry. While the hope is that you never need it, it's best to have an escape plan. In the event that you wind up in a situation that isn't healthy for you, know who to call, where to go, and how to get there.
Recovery takes priority in your day-to-day life, and the holiday season shouldn't be any different. Want additional guidance unique to you and your recovery? Feel free to contact us for additional assistance.