Maybe you have just decided to get sober, maybe you are early in recovery, maybe you have many, many years under your belt. Whatever your situation, The Holiday Season can be a testing time for all of us, and can be the one time of year when our resolve is pushed to its limit.
It's easy to see why. EVERYBODY, seems to be experiencing stress- the pressure of creating the perfect Christmas, looking our best, being the best host, buying the best presents.
Throw family in the mix, and, well, anything can happen!
Then of course, it's the one time of year that people let their hair down. That's right, even people who do not have an issue with drugs and alcohol normally, tend to go a little wild over the build up. It's not their fault, we can't stop them, they've waited alllllll year for this.
Have you suddenly noticed how alcohol is everywhere? Pop to the shop at 10am and a far too chirpy assistant wants to ram the latest, creamy, Drink-Of-The-Year, down your throat. The kind of thing alcoholics never used to touch, unless of course, it was all that was on offer.
Mum suddenly decides she's opening the wine at noon, and the pressure is on from friends who still think your sobriety is just you "going through a phase".
You try to be social and there's enough powder going around the restroom to build your own snowman.
Jokes aside. Alcohol and drugs for an alcoholic and an addict is far from funny. To have found your way into recovery, or maybe you're dipping your toes into it, usually happens because, let's be honest- we were dying. We were dying a lot quicker than everyone else is dying.
So we are here to offer you some tips and tricks to get you through the Holiday Season. We hate just talking about how to 'survive' it. Why should we just survive it? We have spent years surviving, now it's time to THRIVE! Shine in your sobriety, love your beautiful healing body, snuggle up with your hangover free mornings and enjoy making new memories. Memories that will last through to the next day, without an ounce of shame and guilt attached.
1. STAND PROUD IN YOUR RECOVERY
There's a reason you put down the drink and drugs. It was probably the hardest thing you have ever had to do, and you should be extremely proud of the courage you had to do so.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Take some time to think about what the Holidays mean to you, and decide on the manageable things that are important to you. Maybe it's the time you spend with select people, maybe it's the cooking, maybe it's making sure your presents are awesomely wrapped. Then do those things and drop everything else.
3. PREPARE TO DISAPPOINT
It's time for you to stop doing the things you really don't want to. Do you feel like you always have to go and see that friend? The one who never has anything nice to say about you and always makes you feel awful about yourself? It's time to cut those toxic ties.
4. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
For you. Not for everyone else. To alleviate stress and pressure, and prevent yourself from getting roped into doing too much, sort your calendar. Block in travel time. If you attend 12 step meetings, schedule them in first so everything else can fit around you. If you are travelling, make sure you know where they are and how you will get to them.
5. TAKE A BREAK AND BREATHE
If you feel it gets too much. Get out. You are entitled to leave whenever you want. Don't feel like you have to stay at your work Christmas party till the end. If Christmas Day with the family gets too much- go for a walk.
6. MAKE NO APOLOGIES FOR PUTTING YOUR HEALTH FIRST
Family can find it difficult to understand your new priorities, but you do not have to explain yourself or make apologies because you have chosen to put your health first.
7. PREPARE YOUR 'TRUTHS'
Many people get anxious about the thought of being asked that question...
"So, why don't you drink?"
Swiftly followed by...
"Surely you can have just one. It is Christmas!"
We suggest being honest rather than fabricating a story about running a marathon the next morning. BUT, your level of honesty is going to depend on how open you want to be with your sobriety, and who you are talking to. Try these...
"I feel a lot healthier since I stopped drinking and don't have any intention in going backwards".
" I really like how present I feel with the people I love when I don't put alcohol in the mix"
"I'm a nicer person when I don't drink. I really just prefer living my life that way."
Interestingly, it's often the people who are concerned with their own drinking who feel the need to push you further. Allow them to be curious and only respond with what you feel comfortable sharing.
8. HAVE YOUR PEOPLE ON STANDBY
Few people get clean and sober alone. Whoever has been your support to date, should be on speed dial over the Holidays and make sure you stay connected- even when you feel everything is ok.
Never feel that you are an inconvenience, trust us, you are helping them as much as you are helping yourself.
9. KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
If you are worried that going to the pub with your friends is too much temptation, or visiting an area you know you pick up drugs is concerning you... DON'T GO!
There's no need to put yourself in a dangerous situation. Staying clean and sober is your priority now.
10. HAVE FUN!
Yes, your idea of fun may be different these days. But being sober does not mean life is boring and you can't have fun. In fact, it's quite the opposite. How nice to be able to engage in conversation with friends and not bore them with the same story over and over. It's refreshing to wake up with your shoes, your phone, you wallet and your dignity right where you left them.