Tis the season for giving, sparkly lights, and stress. For people in recovery, it can feel like triggers lurk around every corner during the holidays. But so do opportunities to commit to healing and connect with what really matters.
This post discusses ways to honor recovery while celebrating the season.
Part of recovery is learning about boundaries. For better or worse, the holidays provide plenty of teachable moments about setting boundaries that prioritize your well-being.
It’s okay to turn down invitations featuring alcohol, substances, or other triggers like crowds. If you feel pressured to show up by loved ones, consider sitting down with a therapist or sponsor to discuss how to approach it. Brainstorm how to hold a conversation when a simple, “Can’t make it this year” isn’t enough.
Time heals. In coming years, many traditions won’t be as challenging as they are now. In the meantime, saying no to something means saying yes to something else; skipping a party leaves you open to go to a movie, cook a special dinner, or attend a meeting that keeps you moving forward.
You may not have realized how much energy you gave to substance use. This can become especially obvious with time off for the holidays. It’s smart to fill extra time constructively.
Redirect reclaimed free time by establishing new, sober traditions and hobbies. Instead of the annual holiday reunion at the dive bar, try something completely different, like pottery painting or candle making. If you feel the need for solitude, try baking cookies for neighbors. Grab magazines, scissors, and glue and make a vision board for the coming year to focus on your goals.
It’s the perfect season to flex your creative muscles: new hobbies like painting and woodworking are great for making decorations and gifts. A bonus during the holidays is that craft stores may be offering free workshops to help you test if a new hobby is for you. If you’re ready to dive in, paid art classes make great gifts and can help you kick off a new trend of sober activities to share with friends and family.
You have the power to choose activities that best serve you. Make a calendar of holiday plans, events, meetings, classes, catch-ups, and appointments. This is not only a good way to stay organized despite the scattered energy of the season; it helps you reduce triggers through planning and can make it easier to say no when you need to.
Keep your phone charged. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, you’re a phone call away from a listening ear, like a friend, sponsor, or warmline. Use a note-taking app on your phone to write down and release thoughts in the moment. If you want to escape a get-together before your ride is ready to leave, your phone is your key to summoning a car or renting a scooter.
Keep yourself charged, too. Cold weather and shorter days can take a toll on mental health. Where you previously self-medicated to avoid negative feelings, now it’s time to employ healthy skills to shift your thinking. Exercise, meditation, good nutrition, writing, and spending time with sober friends can all bolster your mood. Take measures to stay physically healthy. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for support.
One of the finest ways to help ourselves is to help others. The season of giving is the easiest time to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteering can link you to uplifting communities of productive people doing good. From soup kitchens and senior homes to animal shelter events and gift drives, your time can make all the difference in another’s life.
Make a habit of seeking little ways to share gratitude and kindness. Sometimes your time or a card dropped in the mail are the biggest gifts of all.
Professionals at Mahajan Therapeutics can offer support and resources to help you navigate the holidays in recovery. Contact us today.