Keeping Healthy Boundaries and Your Sobriety This Holiday

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For people in Sobriety from drug or alcohol addiction, holidays raise the stakes and lower our guard. Holiday celebrations create high-risk situations. They demand that we recognize, minimize, and avoid triggers common for relapse while also knowing ourselves, our needs, and our best interests.

As part of your recovery, The Haven Detox recommends establishing healthy boundaries with acquaintances, friends, and loved ones this season to protect your sobriety and yourself. A boundary is a way of asserting your needs, values, or ideas so that you can do what’s comfortable and avoid getting into situations you don’t enjoy or need.

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If you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety or have been noticing stress get the best of you, here are some healthy ways to handle the season of giving and gratitude with healthy boundary setting:

Avoid Sobriety risks.

Knowing the risks and triggering situations you face this holiday is important when you have a substance use disorder. By seeing which situations make your recovery most vulnerable, you’ll be able to spot the moments that will require your strength and determination to set healthy boundaries. Practice avoiding situations and people that could be a detriment to you or result in relapse.

For example, you will probably be aware ahead of time of holiday parties and their venues. If you know, for example, that your holiday office party will be held at a posh bar downtown, it might be best to avoid the event altogether. But, of course, if attendance is mandatory, you should also practice risk management by preparing an exit strategy—with someone you trust—so that you always know there is a way out of the risky situation.

Simply decline.

Emotions in recovery and during the holidays can be sharp and intense. If you already feel overwhelmed with your obligations and to-dos and family members, then remember that saying no is an acceptable way to limit strain and practice protecting your time and sobriety. If, by not saying no, you open yourself up to crowded emotions and burnout, this could be a way for your recovery to slip when coping with other skills fails. 

Declining politely is a skill that many of us do not feel we have the opportunity to practice with our families and friends, but there are many ways of looking at and interpreting the simple “no.” Everyone has their reasons for wanting (or not wanting) to engage in a certain holiday tradition, event, or moment—so remember that what you choose to do this season is truly your decision. Spending time with family in early recovery doesn’t mean saying yes to everything this holiday season.

Practice self-care with Sobriety.

Being overly occupied and busy with tasks can be detrimental to mental health and recovery. You can find that if you make time for yourself, you will feel better about the holidays and your life at large. Make sure to communicate that you will be making time for yourself with those who might challenge your time or tax your energy.

It’s encouraged to set aside time each day to reflect on the day’s events, to meditate on what has happened, and to simply relax after the long hours. Beyond this time, you should also invest in a nutritious diet, physical activity, and good sleep to keep yourself going with a balanced body and mind. Triggering stress and anxiety can be the result of neglecting these things, so don’t put holiday gatherings before your true needs. 

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Help others.

Focusing on others may seem counterintuitive at first. But, there is a fine difference between caring for yourself and caring for others, You may find that practicing kindness toward others with gratitude changes the way that you look at your own situation. Giving back may also encourage a spiritual fulfillment desperately needed these days. 

In addition, helping others can help you practice setting boundaries as you locate what problems are your own and which belong to others. Sometimes they can even be the chance to avoid risky situations when you are busy volunteering rather than attending a bar-bound social event this season. 

Find support for your Sobriety

A healthy support network is essential for long-term recovery. When you are communicating with your friends in recovery in the day-to-day, make sure to seek support for those emotions that you can’t share with others. Tell them about the struggles you may endure during these times, and see if they can lend insight and practical advice to the situation when needed.

As you seek support from friends in recovery this holiday, you will probably be reminded of three things that are vitally important to understand as you set your boundaries:

  1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they owe someone a good reason for declining a drink or an event. But, when setting your boundaries, it can be freeing to remind yourself that your reasons are your own. You share them only if you like. 
  2. You have the right to your time. This time of year seems to go on and on and on. So, as you decide what your limits are, try to remind yourself that it’s okay to take a moment to breathe and collect yourself from time to time—no matter where you are. Your time is your own.
  3. You can put your needs first. This might seem obvious, but the needs of your health and sobriety should come before the demands of the season. Many who see you making time for yourself, declining drinks, and generally setting boundaries will note the strength of your sobriety and recovery. 

Find Help at The Haven Detox

The season can bring out elements and struggles in your life that may require professional attention, recovery support, and addiction treatment. Our evidence-based facilities can make a full recovery from substance abuse possible. 

If you or a person in your life currently struggles with drugs or alcohol, contact The Haven Detox to discuss treatment programs, verify insurance, and take your first steps to recovery. 

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