More Americans overindulge in alcohol this week than any other time. So what can you do to not fall victim to the dreaded holiday over-indulgence syndrome? Check out these drinking survival tips to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.
Drinking Survival Tips for the Holiday Season
1. Learn how to identify and manage your stress. When you begin to feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed, learn how to push the “pause” button as you then take 10 deep diaphragmatic breaths (as you breathe in you expand your diaphragm/belly area; as you breathe out you say the word “relax” to yourself).
You’ll be amazed how this simple method reduces the stress by lowering the cortisol levels in your system. At the Dunes, we practice a holistic approach, including breathing meditation both in the morning and in the evening.
2. Don’t over-schedule your time. We all try to juggle and multi-task, but usually that not only makes us less efficient in doing any one thing, but it also raises the stress level. So write a schedule in the morning for your day that is a REALISTIC one of what you can reasonable accomplish that day.
If you can’t complete everything on your list, carry it over to the following day.
The key is to give yourself permission to do all that you can but no more than that.
3. Schedule quality down-time or “me-time” every single day. This can include taking a mindfulness walk (with NO multi-tasking allowed!); or just sitting quietly in a peaceful area and just… daydreaming. Quality time can include reading a book, exercising, meditating, or listening to music — but NO computer viewing or sensory overload! At the Dunes, we try and take at least one nature walk a day.
4. Don’t let yourself be so hurried and harried that you forget to eat regularly. Remember to eat small healthy meals five times a day.
The worst thing to do for your metabolism is to be under holiday stress and then forget to eat for long stretches. Your body then slows down its metabolism in order to store calories because it thinks you are entering a stress or fasting period.
At the Dunes, the clients eat healthy meals at the same time every day.
5. Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and use good “sleep hygiene”. If you don’t get enough sleep, the stress hormone cortisol is released; use good “sleep hygiene”: avoid stimulants and eating too close to bedtime; establish a regular bedtime routine and try to maintain the same bedtime; exercise earlier in the day; no electronics in the bedroom. At the Dunes, teach and encourage excellent “sleep hygiene”.
Maintaining Recovery During the Holidays
Many of these techniques are also part of a holistic treatment for addiction. Here is a simplified way to remember some of the above drinking survival tips: HALT! In the addiction treatment world, we emphasize that clients learn this helpful acronym: Never let yourselves become too HALT (too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, too Tired).
It’s also very wise advice for non-addicts during the holiday season as well. Just like with addiction treatment, it’s hard to determine what to expect during the holiday season. The best practice is to take as many precautions as you can and take care of yourself!