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December is National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month – a time for all of us to focus on our mental health, self-care, and coping mechanisms.

But with Christmas just around the corner, it’s normal to feel worried about staying sober during the holiday season. The prospects of Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, and New Year’s Eve can leave you feeling overwhelmed rather than excited for the month ahead.

However, December doesn’t have to be a stressful month. This blog offers some tips for attending parties in recovery to help you feel strong and prepared for whatever comes your way. We also talk you through some relaxation techniques that you can practice at home to help you calm down whenever you need it.

Spending Christmas Alcohol-Free

Christmas is a time of celebration. We visit our relatives, catch up with old friends, and have fun with one another.

Sometimes, it can feel like drinking alcohol is an integral part of Christmas festivities, especially as beverages such as mulled wine and brandy are readily available at many parties and events.

However, you don’t need to drink alcohol to feel good. Spending time with close friends and family members naturally improves our mental and physical health. It also helps us experience meaningful connections with one another that boost our overall well-being.

Even so, you may be worried about being tempted to drink when everyone around you is doing the same. Here are some tips to help you stay away from alcohol and feel prepared for the Christmas period:

  • Avoid parties and clubs – For some people, the best idea is to avoid parties and clubs where there may be alcohol entirely. You may want to ask your friends and family to spend Christmas – especially Christmas Day – sober with you. Or, you could arrange to celebrate with other people in recovery – those from fellowship groups, for example.
  • Create an exit plan – If you feel able and ready to go to a party where there may be alcohol, make an exit plan. Be prepared to leave early if you become uncomfortable so that you don’t find yourself in a pressured situation.
  • Be prepared – Come with a alcohol-free drink in your hand so that you feel occupied and less tempted to pick up one that contains alcohol.

Scheduling Time for Rest and Relaxation

It’s normal to feel stressed sometimes. As long as you have effective coping mechanisms, you’ll relieve your stress in healthy ways and feel good the majority of the time.

To reduce stress, it can be helpful to schedule time for rest and relaxation. This ensures that you take the time you need to care for yourself so you can enjoy the holiday period. Scheduling relaxation time also helps you feel prepared and ready for the future, so you feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge to overcome challenges ahead.

Practicing Relaxation Techniques at Home

So you’ve scheduled some time to rest and relax. Yet, like many others, you may find yourself wondering what some of the best ways to do that are. Some of us know what to do to calm ourselves down. For example, we might go for a walk, listen to music, or meditate. However, if you are looking for new relaxation techniques to boost your self-care, take a look at these three evidence-based exercises.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment. It helps you let go of future and past concerns and connects you to your inner self. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for stress relief, dealing with negative thoughts, and improving your overall well-being. Scientific research has shown it to be an effective treatment for many mental disorders.

You can cultivate mindfulness through a variety of exercises and techniques. You can try deep breathing. Here, you breathe slowly while counting the length of each breath. You can also do body scans to make yourself aware of how each part of your body feels. If you begin to think of something else, you calmly direct your mind back to your body.

Yoga

Yoga is a practice where you move through a series of physical postures. It offers numerous benefits for the mind and body, reducing stress and improving general well-being.

Yoga increases the levels of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your central nervous system. GABA is a chemical that slows your brain and body down, making you feel calmer and more relaxed. Yoga may also activate the vagus nerve in your spine, which causes a calming response in your central nervous system, reducing anxiety and stress.

A Stress-Free Christmas

An entirely stress-free Christmas might not be possible for everyone, but by preparing yourself for the month ahead, you can reduce your anxiety over the holiday period. Remember, it’s okay to feel stressed sometimes. If you feel anxious, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, try some relaxation techniques and give yourself a break from the day’s tasks.

If you are worried about staying sober over Christmas, you may want to spend some extra time with your fellowship group. Talking to other people in recovery can give you the additional support and encouragement you need to make it through the more challenging times.