So you’ve gone through several months of rehab and now the holidays are coming up. You haven’t experienced the season to be “Merry” sober for years. After all, aren’t the holidays a time to celebrate, bring in the cheer and even give cheers? You might wonder, “how can I get through this season and stay sober with so many temptations around me?”
Holiday time is also a time of tradition, reflection, memories and connection. Movies portray the warmth and specialness of the season. For many, this time of year and family traditions bring with them favorable memories of “once upon a time.” For some the memories may not be so favorable. Even with favorable ones Christmas can be a difficult time. As the years go by, family members pass on. Learning to enjoy the holidays without them can be a challenge, as can being around different personalities and opinions of others. Some people don’t have the picture perfect family Christmas’s which can bring about much sadness, especially for those who don’t have a family or friends to share the day with.
Christmas is a time that we think about others, embrace family and spend time with friends. It has a magical anticipation of good things to come. Everything that occurs during this time seems to remain imbedded into our consciousness for years to come. During the Christmas season, we remember and reach out to people who are and have been special to us throughout the years. Sometimes we think of past relationships of people who were once special but are no longer a part of our lives. Reflecting on the negative and positive times of Christmas’s past is common during the season, as it is a highlighted time of the year and a time that we remember the most.
Along with reflecting, traditions, connections and anticipations the holiday season also brings with it stress, financial burden and expectations on ourselves as well as others. Is it any wonder why this time of year can be a challenge for a recovering addict to stay sober?
Planning and preparing ahead of time is always the best defense against relapse especially during this challenging season. It is your responsibility to know your limits and the people who are safe to be around. In addition, set financial limits of what you can comfortably afford to spend on your loved ones. Attend recovery meetings more often for additional support. Give to others, maybe volunteer at a retirement home, visit people who don’t have families and take them cookies. Have a sober friend attend gatherings with you. Find a church family, if you don’t already have one for added support. If you don’t have family, your church family can become your family. Go for walks to release stress and increase endorphins (feel good chemicals). Hot Chocolate, hot apple cider, flavored coffee and sparkling cider are yummy and festive holiday drinks. If memories and reflections are getting the best of you, call a friend or sponsor and talk it through. Also, know that at anytime you don’t feel comfortable in an environment you can, and should leave. Your sobriety has to come first and you need to protect it! Make the season a positive one so that it can become a wonderful, magical memory of a Christmas and holiday season you enjoyed FULLY ENGAGED! This can become your new tradition that becomes easier as the years go on. I addition, your family and friends will have the gift of a SOBER, WONDERFUL YOU! If they love you, there is no better gift! It will be a JOLLY season!