While chestnuts roast on an open fire, the added stress of the holidays can be hard to manage. Which makes it the perfect time to focus on our mental health and staying clean and sober. We want to have fun, enjoy good food, friends, and family, so this is a great time to do our part to ensure that we enjoy and remember the holidays. As we are healthy and sober, we can actually have fun. Not the kind of fun that society sells us – everyone getting drunk or wasted and waking up the next morning without any memories. We can have real holiday fun. The kind that not only we can remember, but we also want to.
There are enough lectures and unsolicited advice out there about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. It goes without saying that we should avoid them and the risk of side effects and addiction. There is less information out there on the importance of staying mentally healthy, though.
Because there is so much going on during the holidays, we tend to cut ourselves short of habits and routines that keep us healthy. Sleep, for example, is in short supply, while stress loads are off the charts. This is problematic for an average person, but for those of us who have the superpowers that come with mental illness or chemical imbalances, just the lack of sleep or the stress could be disastrous. It is truly important for us to be more vigilant than ever of taking care of our mental health at this time of the year.
So not drinking or partying, and doing boring things to take care of ourselves, how is that supposed to be fun? Well, when we do those things, we actually have more time and more energy to do things that are actually fun. If we haven’t ever seen a holiday without drugs or alcohol, if drama is the way our families do holidays, it might be hard to imagine any kind of fun without those things. Here is a list of ideas of things we can do with our families or friends or co-workers that are 100 percent fun, and zero substances or drama required:
Photo Scavenger Hunt – Make a list of places, things, or activities that each team must photograph. The list can be simple, mainly locations in the house or around the area, or it can be really creative, requiring people to do or wear or find very specific things. The fun can be expanded for the audience.
Character Caroling – Dress up as some favorite characters, and go sing carols for friends, neighbors, or at the mall or airport. Even better if everyone takes on the persona of characters. For example, everyone can wear a Minion hat and/or t-shirt and sing the holiday carols Minion-style. There is no limit to the fun in this one.
Ugly Sweater Exchange – Have everyone meet and bring an ugly sweater, hat, or scarf they don’t want. Divide into pairs and go door to door asking if they will trade the sweater for something they don’t want. Set a time limit, then meet back up and compare to see who got the ugliest/strangest/best sweater or whatever, prizes for the winner(s.) Or sweaters can be wrapped and exchanged amongst friends or family like a traditional white elephant gift exchange, and then have each person model their new sweaters in a fashion show. Top it off with some hot chocolate or other treats for a memorable evening.
Baking or Cooking Party – This one is great because everyone helps bake and decorate holiday treats or even cook dinner, then everyone gets to eat the end result. Really get everyone involved by dividing up the ingredients and sending them out with invites or RSVPs. This is fun and can be like a team-building experience amongst family or friends, too.
Service Scavenger Hunt – This is the kind of activity that might not sound fun, but actually ends up being some of the best fun, making lifelong memories, new friends, and making others smile, too. Divide into teams and head out to public places. Each team should find things to help other people: carrying groceries, shoveling driveways, cleaning car windshields, walking a dog, etc. You can also give each team a few candy canes or something to give away with a greeting, but points are only given if the recipient smiles. Keep track of good deeds, then teams can be rewarded for quantity and/or quality of service.
Dress up Ice Skating – Pick a theme, a movie, or era, and everyone dresses up to go ice skating. Then go out for snacks or coffee afterward with the costumes on and enjoy all of the looks from strangers. Take lots of pictures, because this is going to be fun you won’t want to forget!
The kind of fun people typically think of around holiday parties is fleeting and forgettable, and often filled with regrets, especially when there are substances involved. This holiday season, take care of your mental health. Make some plans for fun that you will be able to remember. When you are mentally healthy and clean and sober, you will be able to make memories that will last a lifetime.
You can make memories with friends and families to last a lifetime if you are mentally healthy this holiday season. Call Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today. Your fun and memories can start right now.