7 Tips for Staying Sober During the HolidaysAnna Ciulla
Tips for Staying Sober
To resist addictive behavior, it is most effective to break the cycle of routine that has led you to use in the past. Relapses happen, but you will want to give yourself every opportunity to succeed in your sobriety as possible. This might mean making some tough choices, losing touch with certain people in your life, and doing things outside your comfort zone—but once you establish a new healthy routine, you will quickly become accustomed to it.
Making Life Changes
This is the biggest challenge for people struggling with addiction but it’s often the most effective tool when it comes to maintaining sobriety. It’s paramount that someone trying to recover breaks from negative influences that can trigger a relapse:
- Don’t call or hang out with friends who use, or buddies you used to meet at the bar
- Go home from work a different way to avoid habitual thinking
- Spend more time with friends and family where drinking or drug usage isn’t present
- Consider changing jobs, or taking on more challenges at work
- Adopt a pet to shift focus Try new foods, a new sport, painting, playing an instrument.
- Get outside your comfort zone.
The idea is to welcome in the new you by opening up to experiences you might’ve not been interested in while using. Not only will this stimulate your brain, but it’ll also allow you to create new routines—healthy, sober, happy routines.
Structure Your Days
Developing a personal schedule of responsibilities and activities will accomplish several things. By staying organized and on task, you will check things off that you may have put off in the past when addiction governed your everyday. Checking things off a list gives you a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. By setting sobriety milestones and other goals and incorporating them into your schedule, you will set yourself up for success in achieving them. Planning trips or vacations you can look forward to can strengthen your resolve or even rewards for checking different boxes. Finally, by staying busy with pre-planned activities, you leave no room for drinking or drug use. In fact, it’s a good idea to have a long list of inside or outside activities in case you find yourself with a window of time where cravings trying to push their way in. Keep busy, stay active, and keep yourself distracted and removed from your previous lifestyle.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and ease the recovery process. It may be difficult to get into an exercise routine at first, but the higher the consistency, the easier it will become. In addition, any time you feel boredom creeping in, or any sort of feelings linked to what brought you to use in the first place, exercise. Your cravings should cease, your health will improve, and you will regain a sense of balance in your life.
Many experts believe that guided meditation can have a profound chemical effect on the brain, one which reduces stress. It has been discovered that the brain’s prefrontal cortex becomes overstimulated with drug or alcohol use and then crashes during withdrawal. Professionals have found that a way to mimic the happiness that is released during the brain’s active period is through meditation. It is a safe and healthy way for you to achieve a natural high—something the recovering brain is seeking! Another benefit of meditation is that it can neutralize cravings. Instead of being controlled by urges to drink or use drugs, someone in a meditative state simply observes the addictive thoughts in a restrained and controlled manner.
Face the Past
Chances are, your addiction has fractured relationships in your life. Guilt over selfish actions or angry words, criminal wrongdoings or physical harm will not diminish until you face them head-on. The shame of being an addict and the trauma inflicted on loved ones can be very powerful and can lead to relapse if not dealt with. Own up to your mistakes and reclaim your self-worth. Seek out friends and family that have taken the brunt of your damage and talk about it with them. It’s never too late to regain the trust of loved ones. The worst thing that could happen is that you are not forgiven. But you will feel better knowing you did everything in your power to mend relationships, took accountability for your actions, and worked to change.
Use these tips to build a lifestyle of which you can be proud of. People recovering from addiction risk slipping into other addicted behaviors—that’s why, for instance, it’s recommended to refrain from intimate relationships while recovering. Create a schedule with a sense of physical and mental balance to ensure you will see it through long-term. Setting attainable goals will propel you on the path to recovery and give you a clear vision of milestones you’re passing. Try new experiences. Rediscover yourself. Whatever you do, stay away from your old lifestyle.