Four Ways to Cope With Stress During the Holidays

Four Ways to Cope With Stress During the Holidays

The holidays are always a bit stressful, aren’t they? For many people in recovery, the holidays are more than stressful; they’re upsetting or intimidating. The holiday season can cause people in recovery strife for many reasons.

Some people have trauma in their pasts that brings up issues. You may be living with mental illness and have a family that’s not quite the best at understanding it or may have even handled it in a way that caused harm. You may feel guilt and shame for the pain your addiction caused your family. You may have been a “big partier” in the past, and not feel comfortable

Whatever the reason the holidays feel difficult, you’re not alone. Nobody has a perfect family or background that makes Thanksgiving and Christmas the best time of the year. Staying clean during the holidays can sometimes require creative problem-solving. Reaching out to somebody else in recovery is always your best option if you don’t know what to do.Image of a young Asian man and an older Caucasian man in Xmas sweaters

Here are four important things to try during the holidays:

  1. Have a sober buddy. Ask permission to bring them to your holiday celebrations. Your sponsor is one person you can invite, or choose somebody else who doesn’t drink who will already be there. You may have an uncle or family member that is a lot of fun but doesn’t drink like the rest of the crowd.
  2. Make a plan to check in with others in recovery. Call or text your sponsor and friends to let them know how things are going and if you’re feeling stressed. Chances are, they may be having stress too! It’s easier when you know you’re not alone.
  3. Practice mindfulness if you’re upset. You can download mindfulness meditations from most cell phone app stores. Keep your phone with you and retreat to a private area for a few minutes. You’ll be able to slow your breathing and center yourself.
  4. Go to 12-step meetings. Some 12-step meetings have “marathons” or other special times for the holidays. If you think it’s going to be a hard day, plan to go to one meeting before a holiday event, and one session after.


The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but people new to recovery often feel fragile this time of year. It’s natural to feel a loss, shame, guilt, hurt and other emotions, but you don’t have to get high or drink over them. Staying clean is your top priority, and it’s important to take care of yourself.

Getting Help

Are you or somebody you love struggling with addiction? Are you unsure which services you need to get started on the path to recovery? Please give us a call at (619) 393-4767 to learn more about your options.