The holidays are often a time for joy and celebration, but for many people in recovery the holidays can also bring stress, fear, and relapse. It is important to find the right balance that allows you to enjoy the season without jeopardizing your loved one’s recovery.
Practice Open Communication
One of the biggest concerns that family members have during the holidays is whether they should serve alcohol at dinner. The best way to determine this is by examining where your loved one is in their recovery journey. Are they newly sober? Are they comfortable around alcohol? If you are not sure, ask them. Let them know that they are an important part of your celebration and that you want to make sure they feel comfortable. If they are not ready to be around alcohol, do not serve any. Sure, there might be a person or two who might miss their beer or glass of wine, but the holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, not about drinking. If your loved one is comfortable with the presence of alcohol, make sure to provide them with non-alcoholic drink options so they feel included in the celebration without being tempted to drink.
Do Not Make Alcohol the Focus
Often families spend hours sitting around and drinking while catching up and reminiscing. This can make your loved one feel isolated and uncomfortable. While we don’t suggest that you stop talking with your relatives, we do suggest a change of scenery. Try starting a new family holiday tradition such as going ice skating, sledding, pumpkin picking, going to the movies, or having a friendly game of flag football. This will give everyone the opportunity to bond without alcohol. Simply some spending quality time together can strengthen your relationships and improve your family dynamics.
There are often high expectations surrounding holiday celebrations that can lead to anxiety and stress. It is important to remember that holidays are not about who has the best pumpkin pie, most elaborate center piece, or buying the perfect present. Try to take a more carefree approach to the holiday season (and encourage other family members to do the same), and you will all experience a more pleasant celebration without the unnecessary stress and tension.
Another way to reduce holiday stress is by distracting yourself from all the planning and shopping. So, grab your loved one in recovery and take a yoga class, go for a walk, or hit the gym. You will both be better prepared to handle anything the holidays throw your way.
Surround Them with Support
The holidays are a particularly busy time for everyone, but it is important for your loved to make time to stay connected with their support network. Encourage them to reach out to their sponsor and friends in recovery. Suggest that they attend an extra meeting or two prior to the holidays.
Make sure to also surround yourself with some extra support during this time too. Try going to an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting and speak with others who are in similar situations. They may be able to provide you with some tips on how to handle this holiday season. Remember, taking care of yourself is an important part of taking care of your loved one.