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Family Gathered around a kitchen counter

By Ruby Mehta, LCSW, Director of Clinical Operations at Tempest           

The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and they can be especially challenging for those of us who don’t drink or are trying not to. The social events associated with holidays, either with family, friends, or for work, can put us under pressure. The season can also be a time when we get depressed and feel isolated. Whether you’re feeling high or low during the holidays, it’s important to remember to take some time for yourself and prioritize your addiction recovery.

I’ve put together some helpful suggestions you can refer to if you’re feeling a little anxious about the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Stick to your boundaries, especially with your family.

    Boundaries are incredibly important to recovery. They’re an invisible line that we do not want crossed, either by ourselves or others. Creating these boundaries helps us feel safe and protected.

    If you don’t want to drink, don’t. It doesn’t matter if a family member offers you a drink or how much they protest when you refuse—you’ve already decided you’re not going to cross that line. Likewise, you don’t have to explain your choice to be sober. You can say, “No thank you,” or “I’m not drinking today,” and leave it at that.

    The combination of family and alcohol can be especially triggering, so if being around your family is not good for your mental health, consider arranging your own transportation and leaving early, or if it makes more sense, simply skipping the gathering altogether. This may feel harsh but setting boundaries (and sticking to them) does get easier over time. Especially in early recovery, you have to put yourself and your recovery first, so you can build the foundation to be there for your family later.

  2. Keep your self-care routine going.

    If you’ve found a routine beneficial, whether it’s meditating in the morning, a specific exercise schedule, or going to bed by a certain time, don’t let the holidays interrupt the things that help you feel grounded. If this means waking up a little earlier than everyone else so you can get in that morning walk, be sure to plan accordingly. Likewise, if you need to get some sleep, or if you just need some quiet time on your own, it’s totally ok to turn in early. The holidays can be exhausting!

  3. Stay connected to your sober network

    Keep in touch with people who understand and empathize with your situation: call or text a sober friend, attend a recovery meeting, have a book or podcast on sobriety at the ready. It helps bring us out of isolation, and it keeps us on the hook for our actions (in a good way). Many folks in recovery have a hard time during the holidays, so reaching out to a friend can be just as beneficial to them as it is to you.

    There are many online recovery groups available where you can connect with other people who are in the same boat, and if you meet regularly with a therapist, be sure to schedule an appointment with them when the holidays are over.

    If you’re looking for more ways to get social and stay connected to other folks in recovery, you can check out Tempest Membership as well. Our private community platform is a safe space where you can connect with other people in recovery, share your experiences, and participate in group events. You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Get Through the Holidays Sober.

Remember, no matter where you are in your recovery journey, quitting drinking is a huge deal! The things you gain in sobriety are infinitely greater than anything alcohol could ever give you. Getting sober is immensely beneficial for your physical and mental health, and it can help you gain back time than had been previously taken up with drinking/hangovers. And sometimes it can be hard, so please take some time to recognize all the hard work you’re doing.

Ruby Mehta, LCSW, is the Director of Clinical Operations at Tempest. Ruby works closely with our Care Team to provide guidance and resources for our members. As an LCSW, Ruby has several years of experience providing therapy to adults dealing with depression, anxiety, and substance use.