The holidays can be a stressful season for many of us, especially when old family traditions still exist and you have started to develop new and healthier ones. It can be difficult for family members or friends to understand that you can’t join the family for Christmas dinner this year because it raises bad memories or that being near alcohol is just too triggering for you at this point in your recovery.
Early recovery from alcohol or drug addiction can be very challenging. Yet, with the right tools and support, you can stay sober and prevent relapse from overriding all the great progress you made during rehab.
So whether or not you are attending Christmas celebrations, here are five tips to help you survive the holidays in early recovery:
- Stay connected. It can get busy around the holidays with all the shopping, Christmas potlucks and holiday parties. Yet, it’s still important to continue practicing the recovery skills you learned in treatment to ensure you continue on your road to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Whether it means attending a structured aftercare program or your 12-step meetings, make sure you don’t miss a meeting. Plan ahead! If you know you are going to be out-of-town, do some research and jot down the addresses of local 12-step meetings at your vacation destination. Crises happen even during the holidays, and it’s important to have the support and reassurance of your fellow brothers and sisters.
- Avoid situations where the dangers of abusing drugs or alcohol may occur. If you know that a company Christmas celebration will have alcohol and it is too triggering to be around, then do not attend, or go with someone who is supportive of your recovery. Avoid and steer clear of places and old “friends” that made you use.
- Eat and snack on time to avoid mood swings, because they can be triggers for relapse. Pay attention to your basic needs such as hunger. Eat three snacks and three meals a day. Make sure you eat your protein and be mindful of your sugar intake! Bring healthy snacks with you on long trips and plan your meals ahead.
- Get proper rest and exercise. Ensure you are getting enough sleep so that you have the energy and right attitude to get you through the day. Plus, exercising on a regular basis can help you sleep better and feel better too when you are experiencing anxiety or stress.
- Acknowledge when you need help. Reach out to your sponsor or someone who can help you get through the challenge that you are facing. Early recovery from addiction is not the same for everyone. Listen to the red flags and get the support that you need.
Remember: Don’t get…