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5 Holiday Stressors You Should Avoid During Recovery

Published: December 21, 2020

The holiday season is a joyful time, but it can be an extremely stressful period on the flip side. You may need to buy gifts, prepare large meals, and host family all while striving to maintain your sobriety; these obligations can be overwhelming. 

The stressful activities that accompany the festivities can push you to the edge, especially if you’re newly sober. But by identifying likely stressors, you can plan on how to manage them.

Here are five-holiday stressors and how to get around them:


The holiday season is a time of partying; people plan fun activities – whether it is dinner parties or family meetups – and invite others to join in. With parties comes alcohol and drugs, so the deluge of party invites can distress someone in recovery. 

You, however, don’t have to dread the upcoming holiday parties. With good planning, you can counter the pressures and temptations that may lead you to veer off course during your sobriety journey. For instance, you can bring a non-alcoholic drink to the party, plan what you’ll tell your colleagues if they offer you’re a drink and have a clear exit plan if you feel the urge to drink or if the party turns too chaotic. 

You can even choose to avoid the parties altogether. You’ll get join in next year or whenever you’re ready.

Family Conflicts

During the holiday season, you’ll likely spend considerable time with your family. Family relationships are rarely perfect; there are underlying issues, some of which emanate from your prior alcohol or drug use—as someone in recovery, trying to maintain emotional balance amid simmering animosity is daunting.

All these old wounds may come to the fore once alcohol is served. As inhibitions drop, some family members may have the guts to point out your prior mistakes. The conflicts and condemnations may make you want to have a drink.

 If this happens, you should unapologetically walk away from the situation. Your sobriety should be your priority. If anyone, including family, causes you unnecessary distress, you should steer away from them altogether; tradition is damned. 

Shifting Schedules

The holiday period is incredibly hectic. As you get off work, plan for the holiday, and travel to see family, you likely won’t be able to maintain your typical routine. 

When you aren’t attending meetings, working out, eating nutritious meals, getting adequate sleep, and sticking to your recovery program, you’ll start feeling like you’ve lost control, which may lead to a relapse.

So ensure that your schedule allows you to maintain your well-being. Your recovery should be your topmost priority.

Emotional Health

Addiction often ruins your relationship with family and friends, and rebuilding these relationships takes effort and time. So if you don’t have anyone to share the holiday period with, you may feel that the effort you put toward recovery was worthless. You may feel shame, humiliation, resentment, anger, and disappointment of unmet goals or needs.

The ideal way to deal with emotional distress is through self-care practices. Yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can help you feel lively and engaged.

In a nutshell, you should walk away from any family conflict that robs you of your peace of mind, maintain a schedule that bolsters your well being, and cultivate your emotional health through self-care.

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