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7 Tips for Coping with the Holidays in Recovery

Coping with the holidays in recovery can be challenging, but these tips will help.

Sobriety and holidays can be particularly difficult for people in early recovery. What’s advertised as the season of goodwill and joy is often rife with stress, family dysfunction, and a busy schedule that makes it tough to take good care of yourself. Coping with the holidays in recovery is essential for preventing relapse. Here are the top seven things you can do each day to strengthen your recovery and ensure you get through the holidays stronger than ever in your sobriety.

1. Take good care of yourself.

Self-care is the foundation of recovery, and neglecting self-care is an important early sign of relapse. Every single day this holiday season, make an extra effort to take care of yourself. Eat healthy food throughout the day to keep your blood sugar and mood stable, get a good night’s sleep every night, and strive to get a little exercise each day. Drink plenty of water to ward off dehydration, which can leave you lethargic and cranky.

2. Start each day with 15 minutes of “me time.”

Staving off a relapse of addiction during the holidays requires daily attention to sobriety. Each morning, make time to spend in quiet reflection. What does your day look like? Will it be busy? Stressful? Full of triggers? Visualize how you will cope with challenges, and take time to reflect on the progress you’ve made so far. Do some deep breathing exercises to reduce stress hormones so that you’ll start the day relaxed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

3. Prepare for high-risk situations.

Sobriety and holidays often don’t mix well. High-risk situations during the holidays include get-togethers that involve freely flowing alcohol or deep family dysfunction. If you must attend a high-risk get together, plan ahead. Visualize how you’ll handle potential challenges. If you can, take along a sober friend for support. If you can’t, have someone on speed dial that you feel your sobriety is at risk. Have a way out of the situation if it comes to it. If it’s a particularly challenging situation, attend a meeting right before you go.

4. Stay mindful every day.

Mindfulness of your emotional and physical states is essential for warding off a potential relapse. Negative emotions and sensations can compromise your commitment to sobriety. Throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I thinking? What emotions am I experiencing? How do I feel?” Keep in mind the acronym HALT, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired–four of the most dangerous feelings in recovery. Take the necessary steps to restore a positive outlook.

5. Get support.

Coping with the holidays in recovery requires a high level of support. Engage fully with your support group this holiday season, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family. When you need help, ask for it. Remember: You can’t do this alone, and a little extra help during the holidays can make the difference between recovery and relapse.

6. Reduce your stress.

Stress is a major trigger for relapse, and stress during the holidays can reach fever pitch. Daily meditation is a potent stress reliever that also helps your body respond better to future stress. Just ten or fifteen minutes a day can make a big difference. When you’re feeling particularly stressed, deep breathing exercises will help reduce stress hormone levels on the spot and leave you feeling calmer within minutes. Find ways to relax and enjoy yourself every day. Meanwhile, do what you can to reduce your stressors, such as making fewer commitments, cutting back on your gift-buying list, and avoiding people who increase your stress level.

7. Focus on the Spirit of the Season

Focusing your attention outward and embracing the spirit of the season can help you fight addiction during the holidays. Strive to help others by volunteering your time to a good cause. Reflect on the positive people in your life, and make a point to express your love and appreciation. Forgive yourself and others for the past, and look forward to a brighter future. Most of all, try to find joy and peace this holiday season.

Staying in recovery requires daily attention to sobriety and mindful awareness of your moods, feelings, thought patterns, and behaviors. By taking extra good care of yourself and reducing your stress during the holidays and beyond, you’ll improve your chances of success.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.