Tips for Coping During this Holiday Season

This blog post was contributed by CHOICES counselor Alejandra Ortiz.

Our holidays this year look quite different from a year ago. The holiday season is typically when we come together in community to share time with one another. This year, while families cannot physically come together, there are other ways we can cope with the stress and depression that social distancing guidelines may cause.

1. Acknowledge your feelings.

It is okay to take time to cry and express your feelings. Don’t force yourself to feel happy just because it is the holidays. It important for you to share how you feel. You may feel disappointment, sadness, or grief, just to name a few. Reach out to someone who can validate your feelings and help you move through them. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities. Try reaching out to a loved one through text or video calls.

2. Keep active.

Physical activity boosts mood both in the short and long term. Go for a 10-15 minute walk to increase your mood and calmness. You can be artistic and bring your camera to take some scenic pictures. Have you visited some of these parks around Houston?

  • Memorial Park
  • Buffalo Bayou
  • Houston Arboretum
  • Discovery Green
  • Hermann Park
  • Gerald Hines Waterwall Park
  • Terry Hershey Park
  • White Oak Greenway

Remember, with keeping active, it is also important to eat, drink water and sleep well. Make sure you are staying hydrated, eating balanced meals and maintaining a sleeping schedule. Also remember that while alcohol might lift your mood and reduce anxiety at the time, in the long term, alcohol increases the risk of developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

3. Keep your expectations realistic.

Hearing how everyone is spending this holiday season differently this year could lead to potential disappointment and additional stress. A way to eliminate this is by setting clear expectations and boundaries with family and friends. In addition, it is important to respect everyone’s level of comfort during these difficult times.

If you feel you need professional help with managing depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our highly-experienced counselors will confidentially discuss your unique situation and quickly get you the help you need.

12 Tips for Partying Sober During the Holidays

For a recovering addict or alcoholic, holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s can be annual versions of The Bermuda Triangle. To stay out of the danger zone, it is best to prepare yourself for the potential threats to your sobriety before you encounter them. Here are 12 Tips you can follow for partying sober during the holidays:

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom from Want,” 1943.
Story illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” March 6, 1943. Photo Credit www.nrm.org.

1-Prepare your mind

Have a few lines handy for when someone offers you a drink at a holiday party. “No thank you, but I’ll take a Coke.” If you are constantly asked, be repetitive and consistent with your answers and answer firmly, “No.”

2-Volunteer

Spend time helping at a soup kitchen or helping children’s charities. You’ll find that giving your time will feel amazing and still give you the ability to be social during the holiday season.

3-Be the designated driver for the evening

By being the designated driver, this will make you look responsible and will prevent more people from asking you to drink with them.

4-Celebrate the sober life

Host your own substance-free shindig. Arrange games and chances for attendees to win prizes.

Snowboarding Christmas outing. Photo Credit: Jakob Owens.

5-Have an escape plan

If you are at an event where people have a lot of alcohol, attend the party with a sober friend. If your urges are too strong, set an alternative plan for the night so you won’t feel obligated to stay.

6-Avoid familiar places

Stay away from old hangout areas and minimize the time you spend with old friends if you happen to run into them.

7-HALT

Avoid being too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired before an event. This can lead to stronger urges to relapse.

8-Follow your recovery routine

Stick as close to your recovery routine as possible during the holidays.

9-Exercise

Exercise on a regular schedule. Dancing at holiday parties can also help keep your mind off of drinking.

10-Relocate

Try to stand closer to the food than the drinks at social gatherings.

New Year’s Eve celebration with sparklers. Photo credit: Sang Huynh.

11-Do not overeat

Try not to overeat. This can lead to HALT feelings and feelings of guilt. Instead, watch your portions and schedule meals appropriately.

12-Seek assistance when needed

Attend a 12-step meeting before or after the holidays as a reminder that you are not in this alone. The encouragement will help you stay focused on your sober journey throughout the holiday season.

Many of The Council on Recovery’s staff will be unavailable on major federal holidays. However, the building will be open to host meetings and yoga classes. For more information please contact 713.942.4100 or email us here. Happy Holidays!