Family gatherings, while wonderful, can be a difficult time to get through if you’ve recently entered addiction recovery; they come with so many responsibilities, worries, and stresses, and there’s often so little time to do anything else that many of us neglect our own health and well-being. This can have detrimental impacts on your sobriety, so it’s important to reach out for help when you need it.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to beat stress and maintain your sober status no matter what has brought your family together; with a little planning and preparation, you can ensure your time with your loved ones is fun-filled and substance-free. Here are a few of the best tips for doing just that.
BOOST YOUR MOOD
Family events are full of memory-making and laughter, but they can also be difficult for many people when stress or depression set in. Be proactive and take charge where your mood is concerned by stepping outside and soaking up some vitamin D, which can help lift your spirits. Even better, take a half hour every day to get in some exercise. Taking a brisk walk around the block will get your heart rate up and boost your self-esteem, and it can also help motivate you when your days are long and full.
KEEP THE FUN AND ELIMINATE TRIGGERS
Entertaining can leave you exhausted and anxious, especially if you have family visiting from out of town. Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re making sure everyone else is comfortable, and have fun! Keep board games handy so young ones will be entertained, make an awesome playlist to keep the party upbeat, and remind yourself to relax once in awhile. Allowing yourself to have fun with everyone else will keep your mood up so you’ll be able to tell that stress to take a hike.
If you’re hosting, consider making the event BYOB or having a completely separate station for alcohol-related drinks. It’s important to keep old habits as out of sight as possible, especially when you’re already stressed out from party planning. If you’re only an attendee, reach out to the host ahead of time to discuss a subtle solution. Let them know you don’t want to interfere, but your sobriety is a priority.
GET SOME SLEEP
Not getting enough rest is a surefire way to stress yourself out. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to anxiety, or if you find yourself getting to bed later and later because of a long to-do list, make it a point to get into bed by a certain time every night, no matter what you have going on. An hour or so beforehand, cut out all screen time; television, computer, and phone. If you can, allow yourself a sleep-in day once a week when you don’t have to set an alarm clock.
LEARN TO MEDITATE
Meditation and yoga can be very useful skills when you’re feeling the burn of family stress. You can check YouTube for instructional videos or look for DVDs that will teach you how to safely pull off yoga poses, while meditation can be done just about anywhere once you learn how to do it.
SET A BUDGET
Finances can make a family gathering especially stressful, whether you’re the host or are traveling to be there. Money troubles are often a trigger for anxiety and depression, so it’s important to set a budget well beforehand and stick to it. If you’re hosting, make a detailed list of everyone attending as well as a grocery list, and look for coupons to help you stay on task. If you’ll be traveling, establish just how much you plan to spend while you’re away including things like airfare, eating out, buying gifts, and any other expenses you might encounter.
Remember, you just can’t do everything yourself. It’s okay to ask for help now and then, so make a list of the jobs that someone else can do and get to delegating. For instance, you’ll probably want to give your house a thorough cleaning before the event date, but between running here, there, and everywhere to do other prep you may not have the time to dedicate to that task. Hiring a housecleaner could make your life a lot easier. Similarly, you might ask a neighbor to help out by walking your dog or suggest your guests each bring a dish so that you don’t have to prepare all the food yourself.
Family gatherings should be something to look forward to. Take a few extra steps to reduce the stress so when the event arrives, you can focus on enjoying your special time together.