The year has come to an end, and the holidays are here. This is a time all about celebrating with family and friends and being invited to dinners, get-togethers, and even full-blown parties. There is one thing that almost always accompanies a celebration: alcohol. Statistically, the holidays are one of the booziest times of the entire year, and with that comes a lot of temptation.
So what should you do if you’re a recovering alcoholic faced with being surrounded by the one thing you’ve tried to cut out completely from your life? You find other things to focus your attention on instead. We’ve got some tips and tricks to give you peace of mind during the holidays as well as ideas for nonalcoholic drinks to make and recreational activities to participate in.
Even though a full recovery from alcohol addiction has been achieved, more obstacles still lie in the way. Temptation can cause a completely recovered alcoholic like yourself to resort back to your old habits and result in a relapse. This is why it is important to ask for help and support when you need it.
The problem with this is: asking for help is scary. It forces us to show vulnerability and give up control over the situation facing us. It also makes us feel like we’re burdening the person we’re asking help from. This is hard for a lot of recovering addicts to do because of these mindsets. Realizing that asking for a shoulder to lean on is an important step will lead you to a truly sober and recovered lifestyle, and your close family and friends will be the key to this part of your recovery journey.
Surrounding Yourself With Support
Because you will be faced with a lot of temptation during this time of year, it is important to surround yourself with like-minded, helpful people who will encourage you to continue your sobriety. It is very beneficial to be open about your recovery and let everyone around you know when your morale to abstain from alcohol is low.
There are many ways your family and friends can help you with this. Family members can make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners a “no alcohol event” or offer nonalcoholic versions of the drinks they make. If you’re invited to a party where you think alcohol will be present, you can invite a friend to accompany you to keep you accountable or make other plans to do something else instead. The important thing to remember is that you should only allow those who are willing to help with your recovery to be a part of your life.
Even though leaning on others is an essential part of your full recovery, it is also just as important to practice self-care on a daily basis. Simply put, self-care is a portion of your day dedicated to tending to your own mental and physical health. This time put aside for yourself allows your body and mind to de-stress and rewind after a long day of working, taking care of loved ones, managing daily chores, etc. It also helps you to improve your confidence and self-esteem, which then leads to more future opportunities.
Both physical and mental health reconstruction is vital for you to continue in your ongoing recovery, and it is important for self-care to be a major priority to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Without practicing self-care, one’s physical and mental health can become greatly affected, which can then lead to a having a relapse of alcohol abuse.
Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Relapse triggers typically fall into one of three categories: emotional, environmental or exposure. These can be caused by a specific event that you go through or a relationship or interaction with a person. Your triggers can be different than someone else’s, and these will be very heightened during the holidays.
As far as emotional triggers, these can be that of negative thoughts and feelings towards someone close to you or even towards yourself. Even positive feelings can make you relapse because it reminds you of how the alcohol made you feel when you were using. Environmental triggers can include sudden changes in routine and loss of sleep that can cause fatigue or anxiety.
The most influential type of triggers is those of exposure. This could be when you are hanging out with friends at a New Year’s party and they’re drinking or even visiting an old bar you used to drink every week. Exposure also includes that of watching someone else use or just being around objects associated with consuming alcohol.
5 Faux Cocktails You Can Make During the Holidays
Drinking during the holidays doesn’t have to be all about adding alcohol into the mix. Here are a couple of ideas for famous cocktails that have been made into virgin versions:
- Pomegranate Negroni: You will need 200ml of pomegranate juice, 2 tsp of Montmorency cherry concentrate, ice cubes, 3 dashes of any type of bitters and an orange peel twist. This cocktail is bittersweet and is compared to a pomegranate old fashion. It can also be served hot.
- Seedlip Smash: You will need 5 large blackberries, half of a lime, 1 tbsp of sugar crushed ice, ginger beer, sparkling water, and a lime wedge to garnish. This is a fizzy drink that is more sweet and bubbly than anything else.
- Virgin Mary: You will need 125ml of tomato juice, 125ml of beef bouillon, 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, half of a lemon, celery salt, and a shaker for this one. This is a great take on a virgin Bloody Mary, and you can add tobacco and jalapenos if you’re wanting a spicy version.
- Cranberry Mojito: You will need 5-6 mint leaves, 2 tbsp of simple syrup, ¼ cup cranberry juice, half a lime and half a cup of club soda. This makes for a very refreshing, sweet drink that is perfect for the holidays since cranberries are already on the menu for thanksgiving.
- Non-Alcoholic Sangria: You will need 2 cups of boiling water, 2 black tea bags, 2 cinnamon sticks, a half a cup of sugar, 3 cups pomegranate juice, 1 cup of orange juice, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime, and 1 apple cut into slices and 3 cups of soda water. Instead of refusing the “party punch,” you can make your own! This recipe also makes a pretty good size batch, so it can be shared with friends and family.
Endorphins Are Key
Alcohol is a depressant or a “downer,” which means when you consume it your body slowly starts to shut down its functions. It makes it harder for your brain to communicate with your body to tell it what to do, so you lose focus more easily, feel sluggish and often times can’t speak and move as quickly as you can when you’re sober.
Replacing alcohol with more positive things, such as participating in activities that increase the endorphin production in your brain, will actually help more with coping with these tempting situations that you may face during the holidays. The endorphins that are released into your brain make you feel happier, which is the exact opposite of what the alcohol does.
Endorphin Releasing Holiday Activities
Instead of focusing on the fact that you’re unable to drink during this time of year, why not get involved in the community and participate in some fun activities. Planning these ahead of time and asking people to accompany you will only make them even more enjoyable and encourage you to go. There are many fun holiday activities to choose from and some of them include:
- Going caroling. If you want to get involved with a group of people, you could ask around and see if anyone in your neighborhood is planning on caroling. By getting a group together, you not only will bring holiday cheer to those around you but maybe even make some new friends.
- Running a Race. Running is a simple and easy way to burn off extra calories as well as increasing your endorphin production. Almost every town in the U.S. does a “Turkey Trot” or 5k. Ask some family members to come along with you, so everyone can eat twice as much at Thanksgiving dinner afterward!
- Skiing or Snowboarding. If you live in a climate that gets colder in the winter months, you could travel to a ski resort and try skiing or snowboarding. Not only do they have bunny slopes for beginners if you’ve never done it before, but it’s also great exercise.
- Attending Christmas Service. Spirituality is an amazing part of yourself to explore when going through recovery. Even if you’re unsure of what you believe in, going to Christmas service will bring about a new sense of community that you might not have had before.
- Seeing the Lights. There’s at least one street in every town or display that is “famous” for its light show during Christmas. Get a group of people to drive around to look at the lights and listen to Christmas music!