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Holiday Season Survival Skills And Tips

November 16th, 2011 – Posted by Betty Ford Center in Doctor's Office
Tags: sobriety tips


Holiday celebrations often carry a burden of expectations, so we offer this list of ideas to make your upcoming holiday season more comfortable.

  • Keep it simple. Whatever it is – food, family – remember that less is more and more can be overwhelming.
  • Decide what you can handle comfortably and let family and friends know. Ask yourself if you can handle the responsibility of the family dinner, home decorating, shopping, card writing, etc., or should you ask someone else to help me with such tasks? What can be delegated or given up this year to make room for relaxation and self-care?
  • Get enough rest. The season can be emotionally and physically draining. Treat yourself with loving kindness.
  • Hug someone every day. A hug goes a long way to making people feel good. Share a hug and you share positive energy!
  • If possible, spend time with someone young. Young people love to be listened to, and there is comfort in sharing quiet time with a child or young adult. Listen to their playful hearts and dreams…and you may rekindle a few of your own.
  • GO to 12 Step meetings! In most places, both AA and Al-anon meetings are available everyday and during the holiday season there are often Marathon Meetings.
  • Gather your sober support group. Touch base with them (sponsors, especially) even if it seems everything is “perfect.”
  • Maintain modest expectations of yourself and your family.
  • Try to avoid overindulging in food or shopping. These usually help you feel more depressed and out of control.
  • Before you leave on a holiday trip, ask yourself the following: Is the vacation with this person necessary/good for my well-being? Is this good for me, emotionally, at this time? What about my children?
  • Think about and do what’s important to you. Community service, spiritual rituals, etc.
  • Make exercise a part of your holiday traditions. This can reduce stress and allow you to take care of yourself.
  • Recognize hurt and pain. If you’ve experienced a loss in life, don’t try to pretend everything is just like it was. If you recently lost someone you deeply loved, you might want to ask: Do I need the added support of a counselor, trusted friend or prayer partner to talk with on a regular basis during the next few months? It is natural to feel many mixed emotions: happiness, sadness, joy, grief and discovery. The need for support is greater during this time of year because of the waves of emotion that come and go.
  • Create your own new rituals or traditions: going to a movie alone, lighting a candle to remember those who still suffer with the disease, acknowledging other traditions from other cultures, volunteering at a shelter for a few hours, etc.
  • Reduce caffeine intake. Although caffeine may help you stay awake for the holidays, it also increases your blood pressure and raises secretion of adrenaline, a stress hormone.
  • Share a laugh. As with exercise, laughing also releases endorphins which are a natural relaxant.
  • Create your own survival kit:  Quick access to sober friends’ numbers (program them into your cell), sober places, movie passes, have built in time for a massage, facial, pedicure, a good book, meditation music, etc.
  • If you go to holiday parties, have a plan and take someone to be with you. When and if you feel any triggers, have a plan for your exit.
  • Holidays are a great time for atonement –consider anonymous giving.
  • Count your blessings. Take some time to write them down and some time to reflect.
  • Recognize there are some things you can’t control about the holidays, i.e.: other people, the calendar, time and the weather.
  • Recognize there are some things you can control, i.e.: your reactions to others, how much time you’re willing to spent on a project, your to-do list and … going to meetings!

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  2. The Political Season is Upon Us


One Response to “Holiday Season Survival Skills and Tips”

  1. Jacquie D. says:

    Great tips. I remind my clients who are new to recovery to lower the social bar during the holidays until they have better strengthened their coping strategies and regained their ability to deal with more intense situations. For those who feel ready to brave the office holiday party, be prepared with coping mechanisms if you encounter triggers, and have an exit strategy if things get too intense.

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