One thing many people in the beginning stages of recovery might not put a whole lot of thought into is what to expect from their very first sober Christmas. The holiday season can sometimes be difficult for those in recovery for various reasons. This period has often been associated with a rise in substance use, which could ultimately threaten one's recovery journey. However, this doesn't mean that someone can't have a great first Christmas in recovery. It's just a matter of having a solid plan beforehand and ensuring that you surround yourself with the right people.
Understanding Why Christmas Can Be a Difficult Season
Christmas can be a bittersweet time for anyone, but perhaps especially for those in recovery. One of these reasons can be the loss of a loved one. When you lose a loved one, the thought of celebrating Christmas can be very difficult. It may make an individual feel guilty for enjoying themselves when they know their loved one isn't there. They may feel as if things just don't feel the same. The good news is that, through healing, it is possible to come to enjoy the holidays and celebrate the memory of the one who has passed without experiencing pain.
Another reason Christmas may be difficult for someone in recovery is that it is often associated with increased drinking. Alcohol may be served at holiday parties and family gatherings. This could cause an individual to feel like they can't fully participate in the festivities since they are sober. They may also avoid these gatherings altogether due to concerns over temptations.
Making a Plan for a Sober Christmas
There is no reason why you can't have a wonderful first sober Christmas. Having a plan in place ahead of time can really help. Part of this plan involves where you're going to spend your holidays, what activities you will engage in, and who you will spend your time with. This can help you to have a better idea of what to expect and limit stress. It's important to remember that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming and that you aren't obligated to say yes to every invitation you're presented with. Take the time to consider which gatherings will be the most worthwhile and meaningful to you. You can politely turn down invitations to engagements that you think will cause you stress or possible temptation.
When planning your holiday celebrations, take the time to consider how you'll feel in between social activities. For example, if you know you will be busy with a gathering one night, you may want to keep the following day free, so you can recharge and take some time for yourself.
Part of making a plan for your holidays is to decide when and where you will attend support group meetings or therapy. For example, you may be out of town and need to look up where you can participate in a meeting ahead of time. Or you may want to consider attending a virtual meeting if you can't get to one in person. Planning to attend a meeting before your social gatherings may also help ensure that you're prepared to turn down possible temptations and are in a good mental head space.
Build Your Support Group System for a Sober Christmas
Support is not only an essential part of recovery but necessary for someone experiencing their first sober Christmas. This support can come from family and friends. It can come from attending support group meetings. It's crucial that when you go into the holiday season, you know who you're going to be surrounding yourself with. These people should be positive and encouraging and should build you up through their words and actions.
You should also ensure that you have someone you can go to if you find yourself experiencing temptation or simply need a listening ear and someone to vent to. This should be someone who you know you can trust to keep your conversation confidential. It should also be someone who you know will remind you why you made the decision to get sober and will encourage you to continue on the right path.
It's always possible that, at a social gathering, you may encounter someone who is unsupportive of your recovery journey. They may offer you a drink even after you've declined, or they may pressure you in other ways that could possibly jeopardize your sobriety. Don't be afraid to speak up and make it clear that you don't appreciate their behavior and would like them to stop. If they refuse, don't hesitate to put distance between them and yourself or leave the event entirely if you don't feel comfortable. Remember, your sobriety is your number one priority.
Christmas can be a bittersweet time for people in recovery for many reasons. They may be mourning the loss of a loved one or associate the holidays with past substance use. They may be hesitant to attend certain social gatherings because they don't know what sort of temptations may arise. If you're coming up on your first sober Christmas, it is okay to be nervous. However, it is also possible to have a wonderful holiday season while remaining sober. It's important to have a solid plan and be sure to surround yourself with supportive people. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.