10 Ways to Handle the Stress of the Holidays without Alcohol

Everyone can agree that the holidays are a stressful time. For everyone dealing with an alcohol abuse problem, this stress is drastically compounded. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, handling stress is a great way to avoid drinking.

1. Exercise

Science has shown that regular periods of moderate exercise not only help you get in shape, they help reduce stress and anxiety. Which reduces the urge to drink. Some fun exercises include:

  • dancing,
  • walking through a park,
  • ice skating, and
  • playing a sport.

Doing these things helps reduce stress related to the holidays.

2. Get plenty of rest

Fatigue can increase stress, and make you feel overwhelmed. Getting the proper amount of sleep will reduce holiday stress and help you fight urges to drink.

3. Have a plan

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways to manage stress during the holidays is to have a plan, and stick to it. Some things you can plan ahead are:

  • travel itineraries,
  • menus,
  • gift lists, and
  • seating arrangements.

Having a plan reduces unpleasant surprises and reduces stress.

4. Enjoy the little things

It is easy to overlook all of the small moments during the holidays. This includes:

  • seeing friends and family,
  • looking at holiday lights, and
  • and tasting your favorite holiday foods.

Taking a moment to appreciate these moments can reduce your holiday stress.

5. Do not be alone

supportive friend

Having emotional support will help you stay sober.

Reducing stress, and lessening the urge to drink can be as simple as having someone to talk to. This can include:

  • friends,
  • family,
  • a counselor, or
  • an AA sponsor.

6. Get Outside

It is easy to fall into a rut of stress and depression when you feel all alone. Being an alcoholic can exacerbate this problem drastically. Often, something as simple as getting out of the house for a while can change your mood and reduce the urge to drink for comfort.

7. Volunteer

Helping others can put things in perspective, and reduce your stress and desire to drink. Some holiday volunteer options include:

  • serving in a soup kitchen,
  • delivering meals to the elderly,
  • caroling in a nursing home, or
  • wrapping toys for needy children.

All of these things help others while helping you reduce stress.

8. Spirituality

Faith and spirituality are another good way to beat stress. This can include a number of things, such as:

  • praying,
  • meditating, and
  • reading your spiritual or religious text.

Even if you practice no faith, there are benefits to meditation, which include stress reduction.

9. Take a deep breath

Sometimes the best thing you can do to reduce holiday stress is to just pause a moment, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that the holiday season doesn’t last long, and everything will be back to normal soon.

10. Ask for help

Everyone gets overwhelmed sometimes. Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when the stress becomes too much, and you feel you can’t make it without a drink. If this happens, seek out help. Whether it is in the form of counseling, rehab, a 12 step meeting, or something else, help is available. Remember that there is nothing more important than your health and well-being, and your sobriety is directly related to that.

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