If there’s one holiday that’s really overwhelming to me, it’s the Fourth of July for many reasons. Primarily, it’s a big “drinking holiday” which presents challenges. It’s also a holiday where barbecuing is a common activity, especially in my family, and the amount of food can be really overwhelming.
While I have successfully gone through two Fourth of July holidays in recovery, it’s still something I have to think about going into the holiday. How will I feel this year watching all of my friends drink? How will I feel faced with so much food?
Gratefully, recovery is the forefront of my mind this year and these are things I’ve gone through before and been completely okay. However if I don’t think them through, I’m at more risk to be drawn back into my behaviors.
So in an effort to maybe help one other person get through the Fourth of July, here’s some of the ways I keep myself safe and in recovery during holidays.
Let your support team in
When I go to holiday events, everyone there knows I’m in recovery. They haven’t always, but now they do and it’s an easy way to make sure I have support. I have my safe people around so I know that if things get hard, I can talk to them. I have a great relationship with my mom and she’s always willing to take a quick walk with me if it’s helpful.
Bring a friend
For me, even if the friend I’m bringing to a holiday event is one that drinks, it’s easier to have one person I know I can chat with for extended periods of time. Everyone that’s at a holiday event is a friend of mine, but it helps me to have one person who I can just hang with and be around.
Bring things you love
Since I don’t drink, I always buy my favorite ginger ale and grenadine to mix and drink because it gives me the feeling of being involved in activities without compromising my recovery. I get to have fun drinks while everyone else does and it makes me feel less “other.”
Take breaks if you need them
There’s nothing wrong with slipping away to do a grounding exercise, or to find some ridiculous memes online. Really, if you need a break from your holiday event so that you can take care of yourself, take it. There’s nothing wrong with that. You are your most important focus, do what you need to take care of yourself.
Plate like you would plate any other meal
When big events come with big amounts of food, it can be overwhelming to plate yourself. If you can’t plate, have a trusted safe person do it for you. If you can, plate like you’d plate any other meal. Follow what you know. Check in with yourself to see if you’re still hungry. A holiday meal may feel different but it’s the same food, and the same concept. Stick to what you know!
All holidays are challenging but we’re capable of pushing through them. I know today may be challenging, but we’re all going to get through it.