I never know when my triggers will hit or when a craving will take over my day. It can be the sun shining or the rain pouring, it can be receiving good news or bad. For me, anything can be a trigger, yet the holidays can almost always guarantee thoughts intruding my mind. Whether it’s resenting my Uncle Jack as he pounds spiked eggnog, or wanting to escape awkward conversations at my husbands Christmas party. Sometimes I’m even tempted to pick up in attempt to erase that lonely feeling I can experience when I’m in a room full of people.
Whatever it may be for you, we’re bound to experience a craving. However, the beautiful thing about holiday cravings and triggers is that we KNOW they are coming. So we are able to game plan, we can be proactive and prepared. And hopefully, by being prepared, we’ll feel much more at ease.
Move a muscle, change a thought.
Basically, do anything other than what you are doing at that moment. The key to getting past a craving is to keep going until it passes.
Here are 10 Ways to Prepare for and Walk Through Cravings During the Holidays:
- Play the tape through. Think, what will happen if I pick up? Will I have a ton of fun, turn into this wonderful person singing lovely Christmas carols and make fantastic decisions? I know for me, there’s no way. When I play the tape through I always wake up naked somewhere in my own piss, have been under the mistletoe with someone other than my husband and I am always craving another drink to forget it all. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Watch a movie or read a book! Do anything to get outside of your head. Most likely, we won’t be able to pull out a book or turn on the Netflix in the middle of a party, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t use these type of distractions to prepare our mental state before venturing out of our comfort zone. A Piece Of Cake by Cupcake Brown is a wonderful memoir about a woman who walks through her addiction. I cannot say enough about it, it is my favorite inspiration. The documentary Happy on Netflix is also fabulous. It’s not about addiction per se, nonetheless, it’s about perspective. I promise it’ll help.
- Get outside. It’s science, fresh air and nature help clear the mind, it’s a natural remedy. Go outside, walk around a bit. Excuse yourself from conversing with coworkers, politely walk away from your friends drunkenly debating politics. Take in the world around you, and breathe.
- Reach out. Wherever we are, we most likely have access to someone who will understand us. Call a friend who supports you or post to one of the sober social media platforms (like sobermommies), text someone you love and say hello. Get what you’re feeling off of your chest, saying it out loud takes the power away. Check out our list of resources page to find both 12step and non 12step options.
- Take a hot bath. Candles, music and all. I usually get bored after ten min, nonetheless, I always feel better. This is another suggestion that will be best done if you’re triggered at home. However, you can also schedule out bath time prior to leaving the comfort of your own home. Before you put on your ugly Christmas sweater and curl your hair; relax in the tub for a few minutes, you deserve it.
- Exercise. Don’t have a gym membership? That’s okay! Don’t know how to work out alone at home? No more excuses; YouTube is the answer. YouTube has some fantastic FREE channels. From Pilates and yoga to cardio; you can find it. Some of my favorites are Blogilates, Yoga with Adriene, and Betty Rocker. Love love love them all! Workout before you leave, workout at home while triggered, and if all else fails; go for a brisk walk outside, at least you’ll be getting that fresh air.
- Find inspirational quotes. Sometimes I struggle putting into words how I feel or what I need to hear. Pinterest is a fantastic place to search for inspiring quotes. Create a special folder in your photos or on your Pinterest page and begin saving your favorite quotes. Then you can pull out your phone while sitting on a friends couch as people unwrap their wine bottles and shot glasses, and you can remind yourself, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
- Color in a coloring book. The reason adult coloring books are so popular is because they really can and do help. Boredom, lack of structure and stress all add to our triggers and those come to play in the holiday season. Coloring helps combat those triggers, it can help us calm down and take the focus away from our negative thoughts. Coloring is a great relaxing method at home but there are also coloring book apps that allow you ‘color’ on your phone. Excuse yourself for five minutes and work on one while you redirect your thoughts.
- Put ice on your forehead. Sounds bizarre, but it isn’t. I recently sat through an educational family class for DBT and this was a suggested exercise taught to the patients. The sensation of placing the ice on your skin immediately redirects our thoughts to the sensation. This is also a useful suggestion for those struggling with thoughts of self-harm or extreme anger episodes. Again this is a fabulous suggestion for when you are triggered at home, realistically, you won’t be rubbing your forehead with ice in while conversing with your husband’s coworkers, however, you can sneak away to bathroom, run your hands under cold water or dab a wet paper towel on your frontal lobes. If its really a bad trigger, take your ice water into the bathroom and hold an ice cube while you prepare your game plan in the bathroom stall…Do whatever you need in order to not pick up.
- Leave. It’s as simple as that, just leave. Have an escape plan; know how to use Uber, have the number for the local cab company or if possible, drive yourself. Do not feel committed to stay for anyone other than yourself. Politely say your goodbyes, give out hugs and well wishes and make your exit.
Remember “move a muscle change a thought.” Walk through your craving.
It will pass, I promise.