Staying Sober During the Holidays

Tips for Sobriety During the Holidays

Some of the greatest joy and inner freedom comes from recovery. It is important to protect yourself from relapse during the holiday season. There will be more alcohol, excitement, and emotions than usual.

Here are 12 tips to support your sobriety over the next few months:

  1. Plan Ahead: Plan on taking your own vehicle to every party. This allows you to remain in control of your night by having the ability to leave when you want to. We also recommend taking a sober companion with you for support.
  2. Make Self Care a Priority During the Holidays: The holiday season is great for getting to see family. However, you should also celebrate the holidays by taking care of your body, mind, and soul. We cannot be our best selves if we are depleted. Give yourself the gift of time for yourself, exercise, meditation, and so on. Proper nutrition and sleep will help make you feel stronger, both physically and mentally.
  3. Increase Support: It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. So, as you plan each day, make sure you set aside time for support. This means set aside time to meet with a counselor or a support group. If you are traveling to another city, try to schedule a phone meeting or find a support group where you are traveling. Visiting new groups in new cities can be fun!
  4. Know Your Limits of Family Time: We all have our own crazy aunt or uncle. We all have someone who is going to criticize your career choice or relationship status. There may even be family that insists you try their favorite holiday drink. All of this stress can lead us to rationalize and convince ourselves that we are entitled to just one Stay strong. Surround yourself with supportive loved ones who are going to help you in your recovery. And, if you feel like you just can’t be around the family anymore, you can leave. Put your sobriety first.
  5. Use Props: When you arrive at a party, immediately go get yourself a non-alcoholic beverage and keep it in your hand. Whether it’s sparkling water or soda, others will be less inclined to push drinks on you. And, the truth is, most people never really notice what’s in your glass.
  6. Eat Well: Just because it’s the holiday season, doesn’t mean we should overindulge. Stuffing ourselves with too much sugar, carbs, and fat-laden foods usually does not make us feel good and healthy. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t have a piece of pie, but rather watch how much pie you eat. Go ahead and have some turkey and mashed potatoes. But don’t over-do it.
  7. Celebrate Your Relationships: As the holiday season approaches, take the time to appreciate your friends and family. Instead of making your gatherings about drinking and eating food, intentionally make it about the people. Show up early to help with preparations. Stay to help clean up. Or just get together and forget the food. Just be there to appreciate each other.
  8. Serve Others: Look for ways to think about and serve others this holiday season. Whether that means making a special family recipe to take to friends, doing the dishes for your family, or donating your time to a lonely neighbor. These spiritual opportunities allow us to spread happiness and cheer to other people.
  9. Create New Traditions: If your old traditions revolved around alcohol, create a new one. Celebrate the fact that you are in recovery and reestablishing your life. Maybe your new tradition is a sober, festive gathering for you and your friends in recovery.
  10. Avoid Relapse Triggers: Emotional triggers are the most significant relapse triggers. The holiday season is a very emotional season, whether you’re in recovery or not. Our normal routines are disrupted, there are increased demands from friends and family, and so much additional stress. All of this can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, anger and depression. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. They never go the way we plan. It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” to a party or a situation.
  11. Make Sobriety Your Top Priority: Honestly, all holiday parties are optional. If you don’t think the party is going to be good for your recovery, it’s okay to not go. You can politely decline the party invite. However, if you still feel like you would like to see the host of the party, make a lunch date for another day.
  12. Focus on the Spirit of the Season: The commercial world puts so much pressure on decorations, alcohol, and shopping. It sells us the lie that happiness can be found in those three things. That’s not the case. Regardless of your faith or spiritual beliefs, the holidays are really just about giving and gratitude. When we focus on these things, the other feelings of resentment, disappointment, worry, depression and so on show up far less often.


Staying clean and sober during the holiday season is possible! It can be a great time if we direct our attention towards the people and activities that help us on our road to recovery. Go out, have fun, and enjoy your sobriety with those that matter most.

Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan

The holiday season can be a fun and exciting time. However, it can also be extremely stressful and overwhelming, especially for someone who recently left an inpatient treatment center. The risk of relapse increases around the holidays. Knowing how to prepare for the holidays can save you from a relapse.


How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse

The holidays can be a trigger for many reasons. Gatherings often expose you to alcohol or drug use, making it more difficult to maintain your sobriety. In addition, stress and a full schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed. All of these feelings can increase the likelihood of a relapse. Creating a holiday relapse prevention plan can help you enjoy the holidays while also maintaining your sobriety.


Know Your Limits

Everyone is different and relapse triggers vary from person to person. Some people handle stress better than others. It is important to know your limits and what a potential trigger may be. Avoid putting yourself in a situation that could jeopardize your sobriety.


Keep Your Recovery Active

Preparing for the holidays while you’re in recovery may mean getting more involved with your aftercare. This can include support groups, recovery meetings, peer coaching, and maybe even online treatment. While aftercare is recommended for anyone in recovery, you may need to do more in the holiday season. Look into additional meetings and what resources will be available to you.


Ask About Drugs & Alcohol in Advance

If you are invited to a holiday party, ask about the presence of drugs and alcohol before you make a decision. If there are going to be drugs and alcohol there, it is okay to say no. Your sobriety comes first.


Have and Exit Plan

We recommend to always have an exit plan. When you attend a holiday party, there is always a chance of facing stress or triggers. While using techniques from recovery can help you cope with stress, sometimes just leaving the party is the best option. That’s why we always recommend you drive yourself, so you can leave whenever you want. We also recommend you take a trusted friend with you that you can turn to when tempted or stressed.

Making Sober Friends

Recovery can often require meeting new people and making new friends due to previous friendships revolving around the substances you are trying to avoid. However, meeting new friends is hard. It can be especially difficult when you are more focused on recovery than meeting new people.  Friendships can not only impact your happiness, but they can also impact your overall health and well-being. It is important to build a community and make friends in recovery.


Friends are an essential part to recovery. They can help you avoid drugs or alcohol by replacing them with enjoyable sober activities. But more importantly, they can encourage you on your path to recovery through support and emotional healing.


What Are Sober Friends?

Before recovery, certain friendships can revolve around substance abuse. Not surprisingly, these friendships tend to fall apart if one friend seeks help to become sober. Healthy friendships are an important part of recovery, which is why you should make sober friends. A sober friend will be supportive of your recovery. They aren’t rooted in consuming drugs or alcohol.


How to Meet Sober Friends

Meeting new friends can be intimidating at times and making sober friends can be especially intimidating. You may feel like you don’t know where to begin. But, don’t worry, there are countless ways to connect with people.


Support Groups and Sober Communities

One of the most certain ways to meet sober friends is to join a support group. This is because everyone in attendance is pursuing similar goals to continue the path of recovery. While the traditional Alcohol and Narcotics Anonymous have helped countless people by offering a supportive community, these groups aren’t for everyone. The good news is there are other sobriety groups out there. So, if you try one group and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you can try others.


Non-Alcoholic and Drug-Free Events

Another great way to meet sober friends is to attend events where substances are not involved. These events can be anything like a fitness class, museum trips, or other daily activities. You may also find there are substance-free events that deliberately remove alcohol and drugs. All of these activities are great for meeting new friends and maintaining your recovery.


Online Groups

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a local group if you don’t know where to look. Luckily for us, there are online groups, such as Facebook Groups. These are great for connecting people with shared interests. If you are looking online, we suggest using search terms that include “sober” or “sobriety” to narrow your results.


Reaching Out

Reaching out to people and building new relationships during recovery can be daunting at times. But healthy relationships are an important part of recovery. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends while you are building a new lifestyle. You are not alone.

Recovery is a Lifelong Process

As much as we wish there was, there is no magical cure to addiction. We can’t just snap our fingers and cure our withdrawal symptoms. We have to go through the process of detox. The same concept goes for recovery. We have to go through the entire process of recovery, and it’s a lifelong process.


The Recovery Process

Addiction recovery is not an easy process, but it’s worth it. It will take discipline and practice to maintain sobriety to maintain sobriety. It’s common for there to be bumps along the road. The most important part of the recovery process is learning how to manage your new lifestyle.


Tips to Maintain Recovery

  • Know your “why.”
    Everyone has a “why.” Why did they choose sobriety? For some, it may be because of their family. For others, it may be their career. And for others still, they may have just chosen a better lifestyle. Whatever your “why” is, use that motivation to keep you going, especially through the hard times. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life, so we all need a reminder of why we do what we do.
  • Stability is important.
    Because recovery is a lifelong process, we recommend you create a consistent schedule for yourself. Having a job or a career that you love will significantly help with that consistency. It will give you a steady income. If you don’t have a job that you love right now, that’s okay. Sometimes it takes a little longer to find that passion or life calling.
  • Manage your stress.
    Stress is a major trigger for substance abuse and relapse. Incorporating yoga, meditation, or both into your daily routine is a great stress management method. Here at Holland Pathways, we offer yoga every morning. Taking care of your body is another great method of stress management. Planning healthy meals, going for walks, and getting plenty of sleep are also essential to stress management. When you take care of yourself, you feel better.
  • Love yourself.
    Everyone makes mistakes, so give yourself a break. You’ve made the decision to change your life and go through recovery, so be proud of yourself. Self-care and self-love are extremely important to recovery. Whether self-care means reaching out to friends and family, going for a walk, or reading a book, find time to take care of yourself.


Getting Help

Holland Pathways will be there for you for every step during your addiction recovery process. We have a variety of treatment programs, including Outpatient Treatment, where patients will be able to practice relapse prevention techniques.

Healing Your Body Through Exercise

Positive Body Image

Healthy changes can dramatically improve the recovery process. Exercise is a good addition to a new, healthy lifestyle and it can also boost your confidence. Getting into an exercise routine can reverse the stagnant lifestyle that addiction can create.


Getting Started

Aside from the physical benefits, exercise gives those in recovery an objective and something to focus on. It is important to gradually build up strength and endurance. It is also important to remember that you’re not going to hit your goals on day one. However, a sense of accomplishment is felt when you do hit your goal. The key is to establish a normal routine and start with small, attainable goals.

Consider these ideas when starting your exercise regimen:

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Eat light meals to boost energy before a workout
  • Physical activity stimulates gastric movement and can potentially cause a stomach upset if a heavy or greasy meal is consumed.
  • Start small and gradually increase your workout each day, setting goals to get where you want to be
  • Keep a journal and mark all significant physical activity – walking the dog, swimming, bike rides, etc.
  • Make a playlist with upbeat music to listen to while working out
  • Stretch! Don’t just jump into it
  • Take days off when you feel you need it. It is important not to over-do it.
  • If possible, treat yourself to a good workout outfit
  • Join a gym with personal trainers, if possible. Personal trainers specialize in gradual strength and endurance training and can help guide you into more advanced workouts
  • Tell your friends and family about your goals. Be proud of yourself!


A Valuable Tool for Rehab

Exercise is a very valuable tool on the road to rehabilitation. And exercise doesn’t always have to mean a huge three-hour workout at the gym. It can mean morning yoga, a 20-minute walk with the dog, or other simple forms of working out. You just need to get your body moving. Caring for your body and mind are essential steps into regaining control over your life. While recovery is never easy, exercise can drastically increase the likelihood of sticking to sobriety.

Things to Do After Leaving Rehab

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When you are within the walls of your rehab facility, it’s a little easier to focus on your sobriety. It’s a safe space. But getting back into the world shouldn’t be worrisome. Here are five things to do to help support sober living.

Try Adopting a Pet

Pets have been known to lower depression, anxiety, and blood pressure. They provide excellent health benefits for everyone, but especially recovering addicts. Plus, a pet is a companion and responsibility. Having responsibility for another living creature can be a great way to stay accountable for your well-being.

Maintain an Exercise Routine

Having a pet isn’t for everyone. If you’re wanting another option, try developing and maintaining an exercise routine. Exercise keeps happy endorphins flowing, makes you healthier, and makes you feel better. Whether you go for walk, practice yoga, or do any sort of activity, moving is good for your soul and good for your recovery.

If You Need a Fresh Start, Relocate

Sometimes, you just need to “start over” and that means moving to a different place. Moving to a different zip code and finding new people and places can be refreshing. Relocating can leave behind any unhealthy temptations that could possibly jeopardize your sobriety.

Find a Way to Give Back

When you’re in recovery, you focus on yourself, healing, and self-improvement. After leaving a rehab facility, you’re back into the world where you previously had temptation. It’s important to surround yourself with things that are healthy for you. That can be volunteering at a homeless shelter, a nursing home, a play center, and so on. Helping others can help you continue to help yourself.

Attend Meetings

You’ll have a support system in place after you leave a rehab facility, including a list of resources that can help you in times of temptation. Maintain your sobriety by continuing outpatient rehab and attend meetings. Know who your support system is and have somebody you can call on to help you maintain sober living.

Learn more about finding your way to a sober life from Holland Pathways. We support the needs of individuals through every stage of recovery. We offer medically monitored detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and private sobriety coaching.