Yes! We made it through another Thanksgiving, sober! Or maybe our first. However the next few weeks starting this second is high stress, high action and very high risk! It was just a couple of years ago that I relapsed two weeks before Christmas. I wasn’t in a very good spot in my head to begin with, and running the gauntlet of the Fall and Winter seasons added much extreme anxiety and stress which I had no idea of how to handle. Today however, nearly three years sober, and working through my third holiday season, I learned a few things that just might help you and I find ourselves waking up sober, in 2016.
First, stick to your normal routine as much as possible. I once heard Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, state, (and I’m paraphrasing here), “it’s important to stick to your normal schedule as much as possible, the week going into the Super Bowl.” Chances are, that we are not going to play in the Super Bowl anytime soon, however I totally understand what he meant. Schedules keep us focused. They give us purpose and responsibility. Schedules tell us, “hey, we are suppose to be somewhere with someone and a certain time.” And without purpose in our daily routine, things can get weird in our head. So no matter what goes on in the days leading up to Christmas, have a regular schedule and stick to it.
Second, do not isolate. One year I made the mistake of not wanting to be around anyone for the holidays. I literally shacked up in a hotel room by myself on Christmas Eve. Huge mistake! I didn’t relapse that night, however I set the wheels in motion and it was probably the worst Christmas ever, not only for me but for my family as well.
Third, get the shopping done early. So the lights are up, the tree is flocked and your checking off the family’s Christmas list as we speak, great! I learned not to wait around and do things at the last minute. The pressure of buying the perfect gift is more than enough, adding unrealistic deadlines two days before Christmas can push us back to our old behavior. Getting things done early has it stress free rewards!
Fourth, I made a “3 Month Promise” to myself not to spend any money on myself until February. This all started in the beginning of November. Realizing the holidays were a breath away, I made cut backs on all the little and big random spending I do on myself and It has made a huge difference in my bank account, which leads to stress free during the holidays. You will be shocked on how much money you will have just by cutting out the little compulsive, feel-good, needless spending we do. It might be late to do the “3 Month Promise,” but start your cut-backs today through January, and in February hook yourself up with a little something nice!
Last, enjoy the holidays and be grateful. Make up for those blurry Christmas days of the past, put your phone down and enjoy the special moments right in front of you! It’s exciting to experience Christmas sober. Sulk it all in, help someone who might be struggling and add to your set of tools that help you stay sober, one Christmas at a time.
On a side note, I know it’s hard and challenging enough to stay sober on regular days much less holidays, however you have to hold on and give yourself a chance of seeing the other side. You won’t be disappointed!