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Staying Sober Through the Holidays: 5 Tips for Keeping it Clean This Holiday Season

At times, Talk Therapy invites our friends and colleagues from the community to share their thoughts. Here is an informative post from one of our guest writer:

“Let’s face it, the holidays can be challenging when we’re trying to stick to our health goals and not get caught up in the cycle of drinking and partying to get us through the winter. Stressful family demands, long nights, and maybe some time off work can throw us off our game. If we are not prepared we might find ourselves looking for comfort in our old unhealthy habits to get us through.

With the holiday season right around the corner now is the time to start preparing so you don’t find yourself hanging out by the punch bowl at Aunt Nancy’s house on Christmas Eve. Here are five things you can start doing right now to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

  • Plan your holiday schedule in advance – The holidays can mean spontaneous invitations and unexpected plans, which can be fun but also very stressful. Take the time now to plan out any major travel plans, parties, or family gatherings so you can start mentally preparing for any unforeseen challenges.
  • Cross off any high stress activities from your calendar – The holidays are a time of celebration, kinship, and relaxation. You don’t need to feel obligated to attend any event that does not fully support these three things. Don’t let family or friends guilt you into attending events where you feel uncomfortable, out of place, or bitterness toward others.
  • Plan plenty of “me time.” – With everything going on during the holidays it’s easy to lose touch with our own personal wellbeing and needs. In your holiday planning be sure to include breaks between social events for you to decompress and stay connected with your goals. Plan to start each day with a meditation or a walk, or go on a retreat somewhere by yourself.
  • Reach out to your health-minded friends now – Now is the time to start thinking about coordinating holiday hikes, walks, or bike rides with your friends. If you anticipate the weather keeping you inside plan a few indoor group activities that keep the blood flowing like yoga or bowling. And tell them to bring healthy snacks and juice instead of high sugar desserts.
  • Keep it positive – So many people dread the holidays and start feeling old temptations creep in just as soon as the days start getting shorter. Challenge yourself this year to keep an uplifting, positive, and healthy perspective on all aspects of your life throughout the holidays. Turn off the news and take a break from negative friends or conversations for a while. Replace the negative with positive books, movies, music and conversations.

It’s no coincidence that mental hospitals do the most business during the holidays. The “mood wards” are full of regular folks who simply let the holidays get the best of them. This year set the intention that you’ll be spending your holidays not in despair but in a state of harmony and good health. The outcome of your holiday season is entirely up to you.”

About the Author:

Joseph Cervantes is an advocate for the de-stigmatization of addiction in our culture. As a community organizer and journalist in the addiction treatment space he has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of individuals struggling with various addictions and mental health issues. He is also a vocal advocate for the development of new methods and strategies for treating addiction. Having completed several IOP and inpatient programs himself over the past 20 years, he offers a unique perspective into the rehab experience through both a patient and practitioner lens.