'The perfect storm.'
For someone new in recovery, the festive season can be tricky. One writer calls Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s the ‘Bermuda Triangle of addiction’ where alcohol, drugs, and family crisscross until it creates the ‘perfect storm.’ The holiday season brings pressure to be generally jolly and to feel and look good when you often don’t feel like it at all.
Relapse is common
The holiday season is when relapse happens because of the many social occasions and the associated stresses. Finding the perfect gifts while still paying the bills is not easy. On top of it, alcohol is the staple of many holiday celebrations.
According to a site that monitors DUI offenders, drinking rates increase by more than a third between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Drug overdoses also increase significantly during the holiday season.
The evidence supports it: It can be all too easy to fall off the wagon.
Luckily, you can do some things to help make the holiday season more enjoyable for yourself. If you are someone in recovery or have a loved one in the position, read on for our tips on surviving this festive season.
Tips for surviving the festive 2021 season
- ‘A plan for the day.’Think ahead: what am I doing today, and who will I be seeing? It will be easier to manage your expectations, emotions, and potential triggers if you prepare yourself mentally. Remaining sober is your top priority. Set boundaries and tell people if you start to feel uncomfortable.
- Me-time: During the hustle and bustle, self-care is essential. What fills your cup? Perhaps you like to be in nature, read a good book, watch silly movies or eat Christmas cookies. Be sure to make time for these things.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ from time to time.Piling activities on top of another is not suitable for a recovering addict. It will help if you keep your stress levels under control.
- Enjoy the moment: We are often disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we pictured them, so try to ignore preconceived notions. Enjoy what is in front of you, in the moment.
- Create new traditions.Why not introduce something new to your family festivities? It does not have to be big, but leading the way in something fun can help create your unique identity in the family circle. For example, you can create a gift-wrapping station with festive paper, ribbon, and other necessities where people can gather to wrap gifts. It is a low-key way to be involved and be part of everything that’s going on.
- Be honest about your recovery.Tell your loved ones what you are going through. Many addicts feel shame about sobriety and keep it to themselves as they don’t want to make others uncomfortable. However, if your loved ones know, they will support you. At the very least, people will understand why you are turning down their offers for a drink. It is also ok to make an appearance and leave a party early. Do what is best to support your recovery.
- Ask for help. If the things on your to-do list are piling up, ask your spouse, friends, or family for help. The mere act of asking can lift the burden. Some recovering addicts like to take a sober friend to parties and events as a form of ‘sober support.’ You can also have someone at hand who you can call if the going gets tough.
- Dealing with feelings of loneliness. Join a support group or volunteer. These things can bring new friends with similar journeys over your path, enriching your life and helping you to feel less lonely. Even so, be prepared to feel a bit lonely from time to time. These feelings are normal and won’t last forever.
- Be sure to sleep enough.Go to bed at the same time every night and get up the same time every morning. It can make a huge difference in how you feel and reduce mood swings so that the holidays will be more manageable.
Recovery is a gift, and you can wear it like a badge of honor. Maintaining recovery during the holiday season is a huge challenge but also something that can give you great satisfaction if you can get through the season. So, keep our tips in mind as you head out.
If you are struggling and you need help, Largest Heart is here to help. Our website has lots of resources you can turn to if everything gets too much. Please don’t suffer alone this Christmas – we can (and we want to) help!