The holiday season can be stressful and lonely while also being filled with joy and happiness — everyone manages these emotions differently.

Most individuals are overindulging in food and drink, and there is endless temptation, especially with alcohol.

Staying safe and sober during the holiday season is challenging. Whether someone is recovering from addiction or choosing sobriety for personal reasons, it can be an uphill battle.

Nevertheless, the holiday season can bring a wide variety of emotions. In addition, holiday parties, work functions and celebrations may seem endless. Stress levels can run high, making it challenging to abstain from alcohol or drugs.

The two most practical ways to maintain sobriety during the holidays are to have a plan and to maintain self-care.

A plan may include figuring out what you will do if you feel uncomfortable, always having a ride or way out and making sure to bring non-alcoholic drinks or mocktails to social events. A plan should also include knowing how to turn down a drink and what to say when someone does not take no for an answer.

The most important aspect of this method is having an escape plan if things become overwhelming. For example, someone new to recovery from addiction would have an escape plan to avoid a triggering situation. The same principle could apply to someone choosing holiday sobriety.

Triggers lead to relapse or overindulgence. Recognizing these triggers makes it possible to avoid them and plan ahead. “Essentially, this is a personal holiday survival guide to prevent relapse, binge drinking and dangerous situations,” said Marcel Gemme of, in an interview with me.

To be at the top of your game during the holiday season, it is critical to practice self-care. The acronym H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) represents an ideal way to remember how to accomplish this.

Little things like ensuring you are well-fed, not disregarding negative emotions, staying connected with those you love and staying well-rested go a long way in curbing unwanted stress. We tend to ignore many of these things during the holidays.

Adequate sleep, for example, is critical, and even some physical exercise makes a world of difference. Take the necessary time to practice self-care.

Additionally, you should make sure to have a support system. It really doesn’t matter whether it is small or large. Just having someone to lean on goes a long way. For example, an individual in recovery from addiction may have to attend support meetings or work with a sponsor.

Someone choosing holiday sobriety may have a friend or family member they are choosing to be sober with, bringing this person to holiday parties or functions. Your support system can be anything and anyone you need to get through the holidays safely and sober.

Finally, enjoy yourself this holiday season and express gratitude. The holidays are all about giving and giving thanks. Take time to create and share new holiday traditions while also focusing on love, compassion, kindness and joy.

Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a health care professional specializing in substance use disorder and addiction recovery. He is a certified clinical medical assistant and a contributor to the health care website Recovery Begins.