Top Ten Ways To Take Back Control at the Holidays

The holidays are stressful enough these days, never mind the fact that Christmas items are now on shelves weeks before Halloween. The typical hustle and bustle can be overwhelming, and adding a family member or friend who is an alcoholic can make the taxing time at the holidays even more trying.

Here are some ways I’ve learned to navigate now that my husband is almost seven years sober. While the holidays were tough when he was actively drinking, he still can get triggered at times in recovery, and the holidays are no exception. 

That’s why I have created a 10 step method to get through the holidays.  

These steps ensure that we have a successful day - not only for the family, but for myself as well.

Here’s where I began a few short years ago, and now I quietly and mindfully put each of these steps into place, especially on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s season.

  1. Keep your expectations low. While yes it is a holiday, it is still just “another day.” What works for you on a “normal day” might best be applied on a holiday. Like if you usually start your day with a morning workout, still complete the workout. Maintaining a positive routine like this on a demanding day can set the right tone.
  1. Be grateful for when things go right, and find humor when things don’t. There will inevitably be something that gets burned, a glass broken, or even a turkey that gets cooked upside down (like I did my first time cooking a turkey and I had 20 guests at my home). I simply shrugged my shoulders, laughed at myself, lifted my glass to all 20 guests and said, “Cheers!” (What else could I do, but laugh?)
  1. Be honest with your guests. Let them know what you can, and cannot handle, like in terms of appetizers, desserts, etc.
  1. Be clear with your family before the day starts what your vision is for the day so that everyone is on the same page. Be direct and clear what your needs and hopes are so there are no surprises.
  1. Ask for help. Don’t attempt to do all the work yourself. Part of the fun is cooking and baking together. Get help with taking that trash out, vacuuming those floors, and setting the table. You are not superman or woman. Ask. For. Help.
  1. Give yourself permission to take a break. Be sure to carve out time for yourself. Allow yourself to accomplish x, y, and z, and then give yourself a rest. This could be a quiet bath, a coffee break, or even a quick nap.
  1. Don’t forget to add the “fun” parts of the holiday. Whether that’s baking, watching a movie, carving a pumpkin, or playing a family game. Those memories are just as important as a beautiful table setting.
  1. Don’t be surprised if your alcoholic needs to step away if triggered. The holidays can set off memories or desires to drink that can be overwhelming to both the alcoholic and the family members. Take a moment for a nice walk outside to clear your head.
  1. When all the work is done, take a moment to digest all that you accomplished. Adding the disease of alcoholism in your home during the holidays isn’t easy for the alcoholic or the family members. So take in a breath and recognize the new memory you created for yourself and your family.
  1. Pat yourself on the back at the end of the day. You did it!