Navigating the Holidays in Your First Year of Sobriety

Mother Giving a Gift To Her Son
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The holidays are swiftly approaching, which means your anxiety towards them probably is, too. Since the holidays span over many weeks and involve various people and activities, it’s completely normal to stress over them. But, this doesn’t mean you should consume yourself in your worries – it’s time to put some of your coping skills into action!

Below are some of our best tips for staying sober and surviving the holiday season. Once you make it through a few holidays sober, you won’t want to go back! The temptation might be strong now, but there is no better feeling than being able to be present during the holidays and in control of your emotions and behaviors.

Get Honest with Yourself

First, take an honest look at your holiday calendar and see what’s healthy to attend. Avoid the events that you know will be uncomfortable or unhealthy, such as those that center around alcohol or involve triggering people and places. Even then, you may need to trim your list down further. You don’t need to attend everything. 

Not sure if the event you’re attending is right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you dreading the upcoming event?
  • Are you starting to obsess over the event?
  • When you think of the event, do you feel negative sensations like nausea, sweaty palms or a racing heart?
  • Do you push the day out of your mind?

While we all have to do things that we don’t like sometimes, this is a different time for you right now. You are vulnerable and healing from substance use. If something is going to upset you that much, it’s okay to skip it this year. The show will go on, and most importantly, you will have your sobriety.

Keep Yourself Safe

The holidays tend to be stressful for many people, so it’s possible that other members in your household are feeling overwhelmed, too. If your loved ones turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, you’ll need to be especially careful this time of year. You don’t want their own substance-using behaviors to affect you.

Of course, if you ever feel unsafe in your current environment, reach out for help. Most addiction treatment centers and domestic violence resources increase their efforts during the holidays. There are also sober living houses where you can stay to maintain sobriety.

Create Manageable Holiday Goals

Since you’re likely trying to ease back into the holiday spirit and start new traditions, it’s healthy to want to embrace the festive season. To prevent yourself from feeling stressed or overwhelmed, create small, manageable goals for yourself.

For example, you don’t have to decorate everything in one day. You can start with the Christmas tree, then use another day to hang the ornaments. Or, if you can’t afford gifts for everyone in your family, think of a Christmas experience you can treat everyone to instead. For instance, an evening looking at holiday lights with popcorn and hot chocolate in hand is memorable and free.

Practice Self-Care

Make sure that you are kind to yourself this holiday season. You’ve taken on a lot this year, and you have a lot to show for it, whether other people want to recognize it or not. The important thing is that you see your progress and feel good about where you are at.

Taking care of your physical and mental health will keep you stronger this holiday season so that you can feel confident and make the best decisions. It will also prevent holiday burnout, allowing you to soak in the simplest parts of the holiday, such as picking out a Christmas tree or smelling fresh-baked cookies.

Stay Connected to Your Recovery Network

The recovery network you’ve built is especially important at Christmastime. Lean on your sober friends for support and motivation. You can bring a sober companion with you to a holiday work party or attend extra meetings with your fellow AA/NA members. These individuals can also share some of the strategies that work for them over the holidays.

Furthermore, when you stay closely connected to others in recovery, you’re more likely to hold yourself to higher standards. After all, your sober friends are counting on you to make healthy choices. They can also keep you busy with sober activities that you can do together such as ice skating, caroling, baking and more.

A Sober Christmas: It’s the Best Gift You Can Give Yourself

The holidays will forever look different now that you are sober, but in the best way possible. No more hangovers or regrets about what you did or said the night before. This is your time to be with friends and family, enjoy your favorite traditions and hold these memories close to your heart.

Pura Vida Recovery remains open throughout the holiday season. If you need support, contact our treatment team today. We offer a full continuum of services, including outpatient programs and sober living housing.