2020 has been an interesting and difficult year for everyone. The pandemic started, and most of us believed it would only last a few weeks or months. Here we are – almost an entire year later – and it looks like we may be heading back into a shutdown just in time for the holidays. COVID-19, an election year, mental health, financial difficulties, and maintaining sobriety in quarantine are just a few of the challenges we are facing this year.
The holiday season can be cheerful for some people. However, for others, especially those in recovery, this time of year often brings heightened anxiety, depression, and stress. From financial stressors, family tension, coronavirus, disrupted holiday traditions, and maintaining sobriety can lead to an even more tumultuous festive season. Roughly 29% of people tend to drink more during the holidays. If you are like me and have chosen the road less traveled – free from alcohol and drugs – the pressure to stay sober during the holidays can lead to extra stress and temptation. Here are a few tools you can utilize to avoid a potential holiday relapse.
Utilize Your 12-Step Fellowship
When facing the stressors common to the holiday season, it is vital for addicts to stay connected to their 12-step program. COVID-19 has caused most 12-step meetings to move online, which is exceptionally beneficial during the holiday season. It is imperative that you stay connected to other alcoholics and addicts as we walk into this unprecedented holiday season. Whether you are traveling to be homebound with your dysfunctional family members or forced to stay home with a few close friends – it is essential that you utilize your 12-step program this holiday season. Here are a few online meetings that you can log into and attend during the 2020 holiday season.
- Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous
- Virtual NA Meetings
- Online Support Forum – Women For Sobriety
- In the Rooms
- FHE Health Online Recovery Resources
Be Prepared – Plan Ahead
Being present in the moment is a crucial component to recovery, but so is being proactive and planning ahead for potentially triggering situations. Before walking into this holiday season, it is essential that you are diligent in thinking ahead. Create a strategy with your sponsor and/or sober support on how you will deal with this holiday season. You should consider what triggers might arise and how you will deal with them – prior to being face to face with these struggles. It’s always a great idea to develop questions you should ask yourself before committing to a holiday party or gathering to determine if it’s safe for you to go. It is vital that you are honest about what specific people, places, and things trigger you and determine how you will say no if an opportunity to use drugs or alcohol arise.
Prioritize Self Care
Just because the hustle and bustle of the holiday season are alive and well, it does not mean that you should neglect your self-care routine. With the end of the year approaching, and this unexpected holiday season can be packed with events and stressors, it is vital that you keep up with taking care of yourself. You may not be able to control the unfolding events of this holiday season, but you can remain committed to your self-care routine. This will create some grounding and comfort to help you stay focused on ensuring your sobriety and mental health are taken care of. Whether you keep up with your gym days, maintain regular sleep, indulge in your favorite smoothie, or make time for your daily meditative practice – putting your needs first is a great way to maintain sobriety during this holiday season.
Be Open to Adapting to the Times and Creating New Traditions
COVID-19 was an unplanned pandemic for the entire world. For those of us in recovery, straying away from our routines can be extremely challenging. Many of us are used to traveling back home or welcoming family members into town for the holiday season. Due to the looming spike of the coronavirus, this may not be the case this 2020 holiday season. Therefore, just as we try to do with any experience in life, it is important that we remain open to what is. Maybe you can host your own sober holiday dinner with an intimate group of close sober friends, invite family over to decorate cookies, check out neighborhood light displays, or schedule a holiday zoom game night. No matter what new tradition you consider embarking on, be sure you keep your sobriety a top priority.
Find Service Work
Although we are living in unconventional times for the usual service work activities, there are still several ways you can be of service. Perhaps you can get together with a group of your friends and adopt a less fortunate family for the holidays. Maybe you can cook or donate food to a homeless shelter. You may even have the opportunity to simply pick up the phone and call another alcoholic or addict who is alone this holiday season. COVID-19 may be inconvenient and isolating, but thanks to modern technology – we can still suit up and show up for other recovering alcoholics and addicts who may be struggling. The literature found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states that nothing grants us immunity like working with another alcoholic. The best way to get outside of your own way is to lend a helping hand to be of service to other humans in the world this holiday season.
Gratitude is one of the most important attitudes a recovering addict and alcoholic can practice. The holiday season is considered the “season of giving.” For those of us in recovery, we can follow that up with a “season of giving thanks.” After all, we have a lot to be grateful for – starting with our sobriety. Naturally, many of us can get caught up in negative, poor thinking, which can be dangerous for a newly sober individual. The best way to combat the holiday blues is to practice gratitude. Each day, find and write down three things you are grateful for. I challenge you to start a group text with your sober support and send out those three things daily. Where we find gratitude, it is difficult to find reasons to complain or give into triggers that may challenge our sobriety this holiday season.