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Practices to help you stay sober during the festive season.

latest blog by Ibiza Calm

Ibiza Calm - Practices to help you stay sober during the festive season.
05/12/2023 | category: News

Practices to help you stay sober during the festive season.

It’s December … The Christmas decorations are up. Elf on the Shelf has made an appearance. Secret Santa presents, office parties, club get-togethers, and Christmas jollies are the theme of the month, all ahead of the grand finale when the whole family celebrates on the 25th of December.

It is a time of great joy, much festivity, and utter chaos. The Holidays are here, and with them they bring a whole new level of stress. Whether this is your first Christmas in recovery, or you have been sober a while, the festivities, family, expectations, and everything else that goes with this time of year, can add up to the potential for feeling overwhelmed.

It is a good idea to be prepared with healthy practices and even an escape plan, to maintain your sobriety…and sanity. Here are some well-worn methods that always help, during tough, hectic, or eventful periods. 

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Craziness

Stick to your routines.

It is very easy at this time of year to get out of your usual routine. This could be because you are travelling out of town, visiting family and friends, or because the Holidays mean regular haunts and workplaces are closed.

Everything is just a bit topsy turvy, which can all feel a little overwhelming. It is during periods like this when we must rely on basics, tried and tested practices, routines and rituals that help us feel grounded and serene. This means staying in touch with our support network, getting to fellowship meetings, practicing gratitude, and spending some time in quiet contemplation or meditation.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Support Network

Support network: Stay in touch with your sponsor and other fellowship friends, continue with regular phone calls – the receiver will appreciate this as much as you do; and reaching out keeps you connected and accountable. If you have a therapist, don’t be tempted to cancel appointments, your mental health needs to be a priority.

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Meetings: If you are staying close to home, then go to your regular 12-step meetings. If you are going out of town, check what meetings are available close by, familiarise yourself with times and locations or find an online zoom group you can attend from wherever you are.

Practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your mood, outlook, and overall well-being. The simplest way to do this, is to write a daily list of everything that you are thankful for, this could be family, food in the fridge, a warm bed – the list is endless and personal to everyone.

Another easy method is to notice the thoughtfulness of others. Try taking a mental note of when you say thank you; to the person behind the counter in the shop, or the one who holds open the door; and then next time someone does something for you, really acknowledge, with gratitude, that small kindness they have shown you. These little things will start to add up.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Meditation

Meditation: Sitting for 10 mins to one hour once a day isn’t for everyone. Some people really struggle to clear their minds, especially in early recovery. For some it does get easier, and for others there are ways to make it simpler. Listening to a guided meditation, someone talking you through the process can really help.

Some people use journaling as a form of meditation or contemplation, getting thoughts, feelings, fears down on paper, stopping them whirling around the brain. Another way is not to sit still at all, but to take a walk. Get outside in the fresh air, notice nature, listen to the birds, this works really well to clear your mind; and it gives you the added benefits of vitamin D from the sun’s rays. 

Limit the crazy.

Limit your time around stressful situations and difficult people, and if in doubt don’t do it. One of the easiest ways to stay safe and to protect yourself from unwanted temptations and cravings, is to avoid the people, places and things that are dangerous for your sobriety.

For some, the idea of spending an extended period of time with their family is enough to give them the horrors. The holidays are meant to be a joyous time spent with loved ones, but for some, the family home is not a safe place and can be the root cause of much distress and heartache.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Family

Whether the family is dysfunctional, or well-meaning, it can at times feel like there is an enormous pressure to act a certain way, behave in a particular manner or conform to what others expect. A drunk loved one can, at best, create chaos and drama, and at worst, be violent, abusive, and controlling. In a season where excessive drinking passes as acceptable, it can leave those dealing with a drunk relation in fear of what is going to unfold and dread the whole experience. And for those new in recovery, this can be a minefield of triggers and chaos.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Getting Crazy

Whether your family is dysfunctional or “normal” it can be tough, so if they are likely to trigger you, limit your interactions with them. Set yourself a schedule, make sure you have an escape plan, and leave before it starts getting messy.

The same goes with friends, work outings, and any other event. If you feel up to going out then go, just protect yourself. Go early, and then you can leave early. Don’t rely on someone who may have a drink for a lift home – always have a back up plan. If you can take another sober friend, do that, it’s always good to have someone to talk to. If not, have one on speed dial, that way if it all gets a bit much, or you need to offload, you know they’ll be someone there to pick up the phone and listen.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Family XMas

Set boundaries. Whether it is on your time, how much you are spending on gifts, or who you want to spend the holidays with, decide what is best for you, and stick to it. The important people in your life will respect you and understand. 

Easy does it!

The biggest part of ‘easy does it’, is knowing your limits, being gentle on yourself, and practicing self-care. Which means on occasion, saying no! Don’t try and fit too much in, hurrying from one place to the next, just to keep other people happy. Rushing and having no down-time will just stress you out, make sure you factor in time to rest, attend fellowship meetings, to do all the things that keep you on an even keel.

The amazing thing about sobriety is you have choices, and if you really don’t want to attend that event, you don’t have too. This also rings true for over committing yourself, don’t say yes to everything and then run like a headless chicken from one engagement to the next, not really getting a moment to enjoy any of them. Choose what you want to do, have a plan, and keep to it.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Relax

Remember just saying ‘no’ is enough. You don’t have to provide an explanation, or an excuse. Just politely decline any invitations you don’t want to keep, and relish in your freedom. And give yourself the time to practice some self-care.

Self-care is basically doing anything that enriches your life, doesn’t diminish your energy but gives you a boost – either physically or emotionally. It is anything that you purposefully do (or refrain from doing) with your own well-being in mind.

This means making sure you take time for yourself. In addition to looking after your body’s basic needs, food, water, sleep, and a little gentle exercise. If your body is physically well-nourished then it is much easier to ward off, not only the inevitable seasonal cold and flu bugs, but also mental triggers, and it helps keep the black cloud of doom from descending.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Healthy Food

Make sure you eat and hydrate regularly. Feelings of hunger can cloud judgement and cause you to make irrational choices, and in very early recovery being thirsty can often be mistaken as a craving for alcohol. Dehydration can cause real damage to the body at any time or age, so drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids. (Though it is best to limit the caffeine as this can interfere with sleep.)

Sleep, we need somewhere between 6 and 9 hours of good sleep per night. This enables our bodies to recharge and restore, for cells to regenerate, and to give our bodies and brains time to recover from whatever they have been put through. Exercise is another important factor; it keeps our hearts healthy and can help if we have trouble sleeping. Something as simple as a one hour walk in the fresh air, is a great way to unwind, clear the mind, get some peace and quiet, and it is completely free.

Which brings us onto nourishing the spirit, just as important as the body. Our minds and souls need to be nurtured and to have time and space to recharge. It is vital to take time out to relax and give yourself the same kindness, consideration, and care that you would give to a loved one or friend.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Conversations with Friends

Take the time to do something you enjoy, and which benefits you. Give yourself the space to have some quiet time, try a walk with the dog, listen to some music, enjoy a soothing bath, watch the tv or read a favourite book. For some intense relaxation try a guided meditation or mindfulness exercise. 

If you feel vulnerable, ask for help.

This sounds simple but is often the hardest to put into practice. Whether you are already in recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction, or a compulsive behaviour; you are being treated for a mental health condition such as anxiety and depression; or whether you are only just realising that you may have a problem, if you are struggling let someone know.

One of the most difficult things to do is admit that you may have a problem, and ask for help. But the minute you do, things will start to get better. Sometimes half the issue is admitting to yourself that there is a problem.

We think we “should” be able to fix everything on our own, that it is weak to need assistance. This is simply not true, one of the most courageous things you can do is to ask for help.

Speak to a trusted friend, a professional (doctor, therapist, counsellor), go to a 12-step meeting, or pick up the phone and call a helpline. Whichever you choose, there will be someone who can help you.

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Talk with a Friend

If you are new in recovery, talk to a family member about your concerns. Explain what some of the pitfalls might be, what is likely to trigger you, or when you might need to escape. Anyone that loves you, wants the best for you and they will be more than willing to help you protect your sobriety during what will be a wonderful time of year, if you are prepared. 

Consider checking into a rehab centre.

It is not just the massive spike in alcohol and drug use during this period. Mental health disorders don’t take a seasonal break, depression is often at its worst during the cold, dark, winter months, and anxiety can be through the roof when having to deal with everything that the season entails, or simply at the idea of it.

If you need help, think about getting it during the holidays. For some people it may be the safest way to spend the season; and it could be the best gift you give both yourself and your family. When the reality of the idyllic picture-perfect Christmas is more likely to mean drunkenness, arguments, and upset; or loneliness, isolation, and suicidal thoughts, then getting away from it all, and getting yourself help, might prove to be the best option. 

Ibiza Calm Sober Holidays Considering Rehab

Mental health and addiction rehab clinic in Spain.

Are you in recovery but worried about relapse? Are you realising that you may have a problem with alcohol or drugs? Is your mental well-being a concern?

Here at our luxury residential rehab centre, located on the beautiful island of Ibiza we can help. We treat a variety of mental health conditions including alcoholism, drug addiction, prescription medication dependency, process addictions (eating disorders, gambling, and codependency), anxiety and depression.

For further information regarding any of our programmes and details on admissions to our Spanish rehab centre, please contact [email protected]   


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