Christmas TreeThe holiday season is officially here. For many, that means it’s a time of celebration. Whether you’re going to family get-togethers, work events, or parties with friends, it’s a wonderful time to connect with the people you care about, and be a little extra merry.

Unfortunately, many holiday events have alcohol present.

On top of that, the holidays can be stressful. You might experience certain “triggers” that want to drag you back toward different substances.

For someone in recovery, those problems can turn the holiday season into a time of dread and worry, rather than happiness and joy.

So, what can you do to have a meaningful holiday experience while in recovery? How can you enjoy yourself with friends and family without backtracking?

Don’t Over-Commit

One of the best things you can do this season is to manage your expectations. People tend to wear themselves thin over the holidays because they think they have to.

MenorahThat can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, and may make it harder for you to stay on the right path. So, manage your own expectations, first. Decide what you want the holidays to be this year, and how realistic that really is.

It’s also important to manage your expectations of other people. It’s important to have people in your corner and a strong support system. But, it’s also not fair to expect them not to enjoy themselves, even if that includes having alcohol at a party.

By learning how to say “no” to certain events and invitations, you can avoid triggers and keep yourself from feeling burnt out throughout the season.

Be Kind to Yourself

Kwanzaa giftsPeople in addiction recovery can often have a hard time boosting their self-esteem. That’s especially true around the holidays.

You might be jealous of those who can enjoy a party or event with a drink in hand. Or, maybe you’re envious of a friend who doesn’t have to worry about money the way you do. When you compare yourself to others, you’re more likely to exaggerate your flaws.

This is the time of year to show compassion and kindness to others.

That includes being kind to yourself.

If you had a friend dealing with recovery throughout the holidays, chances are you’d be as supportive as possible. You would do whatever you could to boost their self-esteem. So be sure you’re taking the same approach with yourself. Make self-care a top priority, and do something that makes you feel good about yourself every day.

Focus on Fun, Healthy Traditions—or Create New Ones!

Christmas cookiesThis could be a perfect year to start new trends and traditions around the holidays. If years past have been heavily focused on partying, consider taking a different approach this year.

Watch cheesy holiday films on TV. Have a cookie-baking day with your family. Go to a tree farm with friends and take funny pictures. Volunteer at a local food bank or homeless shelter with your children, nieces, or nephews so everyone learns how to appreciate what they have.

By starting new traditions that don’t have anything to do with drugs or alcohol, you’ll have something to look forward to each year, and you can spend time with the people you care about without worrying about slipping into old habits.

You can (and should!) have as much fun as possible this holiday season. If you’re concerned about how to have a meaningful experience while enjoying yourself, feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation call. It can help to have a strategy in place. Together, we can talk through different ideas and “plans” you can have to make sure you keep moving forward while maintaining your merriment!

For more information about addiction counseling, click here.