Getting through the holidays clean and sober

Here are some tips for getting through the holiday season without relapse!

1. Be Gentle With Yourself

Any ideas you have about what you should be able to do based on your current recovery? Write those ideas down. Even in recovery, our minds remain an active factory for manufacturing bad ideas. Write out what you think you should do and then take a break. Come back to it and ask yourself, “Is this what I’d suggest to a friend?” Adjust as needed.

2. Check Your Attitude

Too often we do what we do because we feel obligated to do it. There are very few things in life that we truly have to do and those are responsibilities, not obligations. Catch yourself saying, “I’ve gotta…” or “I don’t have a choice.” If you’re saying those things there’s an excellent chance that you’re wrong and there’s a very high likelihood that your attitude needs adjustment.

3. Use H.A.L.T.

As many people in recovery know, the acronym H.A.L.T. means Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.

Use H.A.L.T. both as a preventative measure and to diagnose yourself. As much as possible, don’t deny your own needs and make sure you’re taking care of the basics: good food, water, rest, and a good night’s sleep.

Next level:

We hunger for much more than food. Anger never travels alone (identify what else you feel and express it). We can be lonely in a room full of people (keep your biggest supporters handy and on speed dial).

Monitor yourself closely because too often when we say we’re “just tired” what we really are is emotionally drained.

4. Plan Ahead

If you have to be around people who are drinking for whatever reason, make a plan for before, during, and after. The before and after ideally would be a meeting, a call to sponsor or coach in recovery, or time with friends who support your recovery. The during is usually having prepared responses for the person who offers you alcohol or drugs.

5. Exit Strategy

As of this writing, Covid-19 has prevented most gatherings but even in a small gathering: always have an exit strategy. If whatever you’re doing with family, coworkers or friends gets too rough, have a way out – bring your own car, park it somewhere it can’t be blocked in and leave before you can’t stand it one more second.

6. Up Your Self-Care Game

If you’re anything like me, you’ll catch yourself reminiscing over the past and that’s a dangerous place to spend time outside of therapy. You may find yourself looking ahead to the New Year and anticipating change. Focus on what’s in your control. Focus on the basics of coping and make sure whatever plans you’re making are based on goals and not on fears.

7. Be of Service to Others

This is hands down the best way to avoid getting into a funk or to get out of one once you’re in.