The holiday season is upon us, and with it the stress and joys of spending time with the people you love. Rather you’re gearing up to travel home for the holidays, playing the host, or opting to celebrate with friends, now is the time to celebrate all you have to be thankful for and surround yourself with love and support. Unfortunately, the winter holidays can also be a tricky time for people in recovery filled with unanticipated triggers and emotional challenges.
Don’t let what should be a time for fun and laughter derail your recovery progress! Here’s 3 tips for spending the holidays with loved ones.
As always, your recovery should be your top priority, even during times of celebration. To help safeguard yourself against urges and emotional triggers, set boundaries ahead of time to maintain the structure of your clean and sober lifestyle.
Your boundaries can include maintaining a drug and alcohol-free environment, removing yourself from toxic environments and situations, and continuing to employ the skills and tools you gained through treatment.
Don’t be afraid of setting your own boundaries and enforcing them. These boundaries will help you mend and strengthen your relationships with your loved ones. Those who do not respect the boundaries you set for your continued recovery likely aren’t the people you need in your life.
Designate Check-Ins with a Sponsor
If you’re early in your recovery and concerned about slipping up while spending the holidays with loved ones, designating specific times to check in with your sponsor can help you remain focused and steadfast on your path of recovery. Regular check-ins help to maintain the structure of your new lifestyle even during the busy holiday season.
Your check-ins can be as simple as a quick (but honest) text. If you’re feeling shaky, call your sponsor and take a few minutes to center yourself again. Instead of hoping the triggers of the holiday go away, make sure you and your sponsor stay connected by setting a date every week or two. By talking through your progress, your triggers, your worries and frustrations, you will know you can call upon your sponsor when you need help.
Don’t have a sponsor? Make arrangements with a trusted family member or friend to help keep an eye out for potential signs of relapse. Be sure the person you trust with this task is aware of what they should look out for and how to address concerns.
While you are ultimately responsible for your own journey, having solid people in your corner makes it easier to enjoy your holidays and keep your commitment to clean and sober living.
As the person in recovery, you are on your own to help yourself stay in recovery during the holidays. It is OK to need support during the holidays but, when you are overwhelmed, try to ask for help rather than relying on other people to provide it for you.
Know When to Decline
When an event or activity has triggered you in the past or is about to, you can’t just accept the invite. Decide what you’re willing to handle.
What will cause you the most pain and discomfort? Will it be too much food, or too many people? Is it a family reunion where you haven’t seen any of them in years? Will it be driving over several hours to be around people you aren’t close to, or who might not be sober themselves? Perhaps you’ve even heard a sad story or two about someone who’s fallen off the wagon.
When you’ve decided what you’re willing to do and what you aren’t, leave the rest to the universe. Many people know how hard it is to attend family functions and as we all know, family is hard to avoid. Just because you’ve been invited to a holiday celebration, doesn’t mean you have to attend- especially if it may put your recovery in jeopardy.
If the people in attendance encourage negative behaviors, refuse to recognize your needs, or otherwise create an unsafe environment, do what’s best for you. Learning to put yourself first and to say no when necessary is part of the process; those who truly love and support you will understand.
If you must decline an invitation, try not to spend your holidays alone. This time of year can be especially trying for people in early recovery, so find ways to stay busy, improve yourself, and remain in good spirits and in good company.
If for any reason you need support because of relapse, call Zinnia Health today at (855) 430-9439. We are available twenty-four hours a day seven days a week to talk. You are not alone in this battle.