How to Stay on the Sleigh this Christmas
The silly season, glorious though it might be, can feel like an absolute minefield to the recovering addict. Parties, family get-togethers, loss of routine…Christmas in recovery is hard. Thankfully, as we all know, hard doesn’t equal impossible.
To make sure you get through the holidays without relapsing or tearing your hair out, we’ve compiled twelve strategies you might find helpful:
#1 – Yes, please, I would love a drink…of water!
There’s no getting around well-meaning friends and family offering you beverages, especially if they don’t understand your recovery journey. If you don’t feel like saying ‘no’, say ‘yes’ and specify the non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. 9 times out of 10, the person offering won’t push for alcohol, but if they do:
#2 – Be clear
Repeat after us: “No, thank you. I’ve got to get up early/I have the kids tomorrow/I’m meeting a friend for a dawn run.” You can be polite but still stand firm and it is very unlikely that anyone will insist you have alcohol, but if they do:
#3 – Use Humour
“I’ll have a drink if you eat one of these Christmas ornaments – you first.” Or maybe: “I’ve only just gotten off the naughty list!” Anything you can think of, really. Pre-rehearse lines if you think it might be helpful. It’s almost certain that this will end the discussion, but if it doesn’t:
#4 – Be open
If you’re comfortable doing so, sharing your recovery journey can be a powerful tool. When your friends and family know what you’re going through and how hard you are working to maintain recovery, they can fight in your corner and support you. But if they don’t:
#5 – Have an Exit Strategy
If you think a Christmas get-together has the potential to go south pole rather than the north pole, plan your escape in advance. Get a friend to phone you an hour into the party and pretend there’s an emergency…or, if you like, just do the rounds, say hi-and-bye and go when you’ve had enough.
#6 – Choose an Ally
Having one person in the room, who knows what you are going through and is standing by to support you can make all the difference. Whether it’s a favourite relative or your bestie, confidants can be invaluable in challenging Christmas situations.
#7 – Take time for you
There is no harm in sitting out a Christmas party if you don’t feel up to it. If you would rather go for a walk with a friend or on your own, spend the day at the beach with a good book or go to a meeting – you are allowed.
#8 – Keep up the good work
You are in the middle of recovery, so acknowledge how well you’ve been managing and keep going. Whether you are a regular at AA, go to individual therapy or do recovery work at home, this is not the time to take a break.
#9 – Deep Breaths
No matter how stressed out Christmas gets you, remember to keep breathing and stay in the moment. Try to keep grounded as much as you can and reach out to your support network when you need them.
#10 – Remember Self-Care
Whatever your self-care routine might be, ramp it up a notch this holiday season. Go for an extra swim, eat some amazing food, and hang out with your favourite people.
#11 – Stay Connected
The idea of isolating yourself until Christmas is over can be tempting, but you must be careful to stay connected with the people who support you. If you don’t feel up to any big Christmas dos, no problem; so long as you stay in touch with those who are essential to your recovery.
#12 – Be Kind to Yourself
The holiday season is hard enough as it is, there’s no need to beat yourself up for not coping as well as you hoped. Every recovering addict struggles during festivities and everyone has a bad day or week; give yourself some love this Christmas. You deserve it.
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