27 Nov How to Stay Sane (and Sober) During the Holidays
Yes, the holidays are here. Not just around the corner, but here. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have been on the Starbucks menu for at least two months now, and depending on where you are in the world, there’s very likely a public TV station playing Christmas carols on loop to a perpetually burning log in the fireplace.
For those in recovery, the holidays can be a dodgy time. It’s the time of year when the eggnog comes out, champagne corks get popped, and don’t even get us started on New Year’s Eve. It’s also a time for excessive family gatherings which can be wonderful for some and dreadful for others. The booze might be overflowing wherever you go, and come December 31st (trigger alert), some of you might be used to seeing your fair share of fluffy white powders and little blue pills that make your eyes twinkle. So yeah, for those who dread the holidays, you’re certainly not alone, and we’ve compiled a list of five ways to help you stay sane (and sober) during this very precarious time of year:
Plan a sober holiday party. If you’ve been in a 12-step program for a while, then you more than likely have an entire sober crew that you enjoy spending time with. Why not organize a holiday soirée? Turn up your favorite holiday (or non-holiday) jams, set up a Scrabble session or a game of Cards Against Humanity, and serve up as much virgin eggnog as you like. Many of your pals are probably in the same boat, so they’ll thank you for giving them an excuse to break away from their inebriated relatives for a few welcome hours with their sober besties.
Volunteer at a food bank or a homeless shelter. Being of service is one of the very best ways to get out of your head and do something that feels really good, and volunteering is the ideal way to give back. Try hopping online and locating shelters and food banks in your area, then get in touch and find out who needs volunteers. You can even grab a friend or two and volunteer together. Your ‘ism’ or ‘isms’ will thank you, and at the end of the day, it’s just a really nice thing to do.
Pick up that 500 pound phone of yours and call a sober fellow! It can feel really awkward to call and check in with your sponsor or others in the program, particularly for those in early recovery, but just about anyone who has a program is used to it. The telephone is literally your lifeline, and there’s a little saying in program that suggests you “save your ass before your face.” Words to live by. Don’t worry about being judged. Worry about maintaining your sobriety. Even if you’re feeling ok, it’s never a bad idea to stay connected.
Go to a meeting. Most cities hold 12-step meetings daily, even during the holidays. And while certain venues might be closed on major holidays like Christmas, there’s almost always a house meeting, and often there are alternate locations. Worst case scenario is you hop on the internet and find an online meeting. In The Rooms hosts a wide variety of twelve-step meetings for various fellowships, and you can them on the site 24-7.
Feeling overwhelmed at a family gathering? Get outside and take a breather. Family time can be wonderful, but an excessive amount of it might drive you a little mad depending on your relationships with your siblings, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, and in-laws. If you start to feel overwhelmed at a family get together, try stepping outside for a walk or a jog if weather permits. Maybe do some deep breathing exercises while you’re at it, or stop by a park and indulge in a twenty minute meditation. Getting out into nature and just listening to your own thoughts, sans judgement, can be really centering. You’ll head back to your relatives refreshed and ready for more socializing. And if you don’t feel like socializing, it should be totally acceptable to politely excuse yourself. Decide ahead of time what your level of tolerance is for the group and plan accordingly. Remember, your sobriety takes priority over what anyone else thinks. You’ve worked hard to stay sober, so honor it.
Write daily gratitude lists. Daily gratitude lists are good things to keep going year-round, but if it’s not standard practice for you, perhaps now is a good time to pick up the habit. The holidays are a really great time to slow down and reflect on what you’re grateful for, and writing these things down can be the ideal way to shift your perspective and focus on what’s going right in your life. For starters, if you’ve remained sober through the holidays thus far, this is certainly something to be grateful for. Even if you haven’t, the fact that you’re reading this post right now means that you’ve got sobriety on your mind, and you have an awareness that you’re not alone. And that there’s support out there. This, too, is something to be grateful for. Family, health, a roof over your head, pumpkin pie, friends, your cat — no need to overthink your list if you don’t want to. A simple gratitude list on a dreary day can do wonders for your state of mind.
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If you’re still actively drinking or using, getting sober can seem overwhelming and downright scary. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, and that when you are ready to put down the drugs or the alcohol, you only have to worry about today.
Recovery is a one-day-at-a-time journey, and Kembali is here to help. Contact us today to take that first step.