The myriad challenges of 2020 have pushed many people to their limits. Now, it’s the holiday season – a time of year that is statistically more difficult for people with substance use disorders even without COVID-19 adding to stress, anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent a relapse.
You are not alone in struggling with alcoholism or addiction during the coronavirus pandemic. Being proactive about your sobriety during this difficult time of year can help you avoid a relapse or terrible mishap, such as a drunk driving accident. Use these five tips to stay sober during this year’s pandemic holiday.
Acknowledge Stress and Triggers
Every person in recovery has triggers. Triggers are things that are likely to cause a relapse or self-destructive behaviors. Everyone’s triggers are different. Withstanding them and committing yourself to sobriety starts with acknowledging your relapse triggers – especially those related to COVID-19 and the holidays.
- Pressure related to your job
- Fights with a spouse or loved one
- Having to be around extended family members or old friends
- Peer pressure
- Isolation and loneliness related to COVID-19
- Fear or anxiety about the pandemic
- Habits based on holiday traditions
- Increased monetary problems
It is okay to encounter triggers during your sobriety journey. This is completely normal and not something you can realistically avoid. The trick is to learn how to cope with stress and triggers in a healthy way rather than attempting to completely avoid them. Train yourself to react to triggers with healthy coping mechanisms instead of self-medicating.
Practice Self-Care and Self-Soothing
Self-care is often an effective solution to combat stress and triggers. Self-care and self-soothing refer to actions you can take to calm yourself down, become more grounded, avoid an anxiety attack and lean into your sobriety rather than away from it in difficult times.
Many self-care practices can help you when faced with fear, depression or anxiety related to the holidays and COVID-19: doing deep-breathing exercises, trying yoga, lighting candles and incense, playing soothing music, taking a bath, watching a favorite movie, or performing activities that positively influence your mental health.
Tweak Holiday Traditions
Many holiday traditions can be triggers in themselves on a sobriety journey. Do not hesitate to tweak your holiday traditions this year to better serve your goals and needs. Tell friends and family members about your sobriety, if desired, so they can help you help yourself. Together, you can steer clear of vulnerable situations and traditions that used to fuel you to drink or self-medicate in the past.
Stay Socially Connected
The pandemic does not mean you have to shut yourself away and avoid all forms of contact with others. Use technology to actively keep in contact with the people who matter most to you, such as supportive friends and family members, to help you through a hard time.
Utilize your smartphone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and other videochat technologies to have face-to-face conversations with loved ones from afar. Focusing on others in your social circle this holiday season can help you feel more a part of something during an isolating time.
Social connections can also take place with strangers during the holidays. Reaching out to a homeless shelter, for example, can give you a sense of purpose and direction this holiday season. Staying socially connected can lift your spirits and keep you on track with your sobriety.
Call for Help or Join a Virtual Meeting
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one expects you to get through a pandemic holiday sober on your own. People and resources are available to help you through personal trials and tribulations every step of the way. Reach out to your sponsor and continue attending virtual meetings during the pandemic for assistance, support, tips and accountability.
All of these tips can work together to prepare you for the pandemic holiday. Recognize your triggers and meet them with self-care practices and positive social connections. Change triggering holiday traditions for your own peace of mind, and never hesitate to seek help when you need it. With the right tools, you are strong enough to stay sober during a pandemic holiday season.