Six Tips for Coping with Holiday Pressures
The holiday season means different things for different people, but for most – the months mean endless parties, shopping deadlines, money stress, hearing too many carols on repeat, and battling the increasingly busy supermarkets and shopping centres. It can also mean facing friends and relatives you’d rather not see, or facing bad memories of holiday seasons past.
While some people actually enjoy every second of the holiday season, the rest can find this high-energy season overwhelming. There seems to be a lot of pressure on people to be happy, and for many that pressure actually turns into depression. And for recovering addicts, all these stressors can seem magnified. Between the stress and the parties, recovering addicts are put face-to-face with some serious relapse triggers.
To make sure you stay on the straight and narrow this season, follow our tips below
1. Choose Only the Most Important Parties
Only choose the parties that serve a good purpose. Is it an office party where you can build contacts and relationships with colleagues? A family dinner? Or is it simply an excuse to get drunk? If you believe the people would gather together whether or not alcohol or drugs were included, then you will likely enjoy the party without substance use and could likely handle going.
2. Be Prepared
When you do go to parties, bring a special non-alcoholic beverage for yourself and put it in an ‘on-the-rocks’ glass instead of a tall glass. Not only will this solve the problem of a host who didn’t think of non-alcoholic beverages, but putting it in a glass that looks like an alcoholic drink glass will keep party-goers from asking you repeatedly why you’re not drinking – and from you having to discuss your recovery program with people you’d prefer not to.
3. Plan your Exit
Always have your own way home from a party. If the temptation to drink or use drugs becomes overwhelming, it’s important that you have the ability to leave. You should never be forced to stay in a place that proves to be very tempting for you. If you need an extra reason to stay sober, plan to meet a sober friend after the party, or even bring them along if you’re able to.
4. Reach Out
Your recovery program doesn’t stop over the holiday season, and neither should your support system. Many AA and similar groups hold extra meetings over the holidays because it is such a difficult time for recovering addicts. Also reach out to your friends and family and be completely honest with any negative feelings or temptations. Even if you feel that you’re strong enough to get by without constant support, it’s nice to have them on stand-by. When and if you do need it, the more support you have, the better.
5. Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself
Take the time to remind yourself each day why you’re going through this recovery program and what it really means to you. Get lots of sleep and keep up with your regular exercise routine to keep energy and endorphins high. And be careful not to overindulge in holiday treats to the point that you feel bad about it. Overeating and the guilt associated with it can bring you further into depression.
6. Be Honest with Yourself
If you’ve decided to go to an event and feel yourself slipping, you need to acknowledge that fully and remove yourself from the situation. Then call someone you can count on for support and talk truthfully about your feelings. Call your therapist if you need to.
Remember, holiday parties are great fun and one day you will be able to attend events where alcohol or drugs are present and you won’t think twice about sipping on a virgin cocktail instead. Right now, however, you must understand that a few hours at a party is not nearly important enough to risk your sobriety. So be smart, be safe, and above all be honest with yourself and reach out for support the second you start to feel any temptation.