Managing Recovery Over The Holidays

The holidays, for many people, are a combination of some very wonderful events as well as some disappointments and challenges. For those in recovery, the challenges of the holidays can be particularly difficult as this is the time of the year were social events, parties, gatherings and even business meetings are more likely to include alcohol or guests using drugs.

Additionally, to make things more complex, schedules are often erratic, it is more difficult to manage healthy eating and exercise routines and people from the past that may have been associated with alcohol or drug use often seem to make efforts to come back into your life.

To help anyone in recovery to manage the holiday season and stay sober, healthy and focused on their recovery goals, here are some simple tips and strategies to use throughout this time of year.

» Say “No” – while this may be difficult, saying no to situations where it will be difficult to maintain sobriety is a key part of recovery. Avoid going out with friends or family members where alcohol or drugs will form the focus of their evening or event.

» Plan your festivities first – a good idea is to plan the events you want to do over the holidays. This allows you to focus in on healthy, sober and entertaining things that allow you to more easily say “I am sorry, I have something else planned” and not feel as if you are losing out or being isolated from the fun activities of the season.

» Create new rituals – for many in recovery, the holiday season had rituals that included drinking or drug use binges, overeating and engaging in negative behaviors. Instead, with your support network, develop new rituals that are unique to your recovery. Make these events the center of the celebration and invite family and friends to participate.

» Don’t be alone – while it may be tempted just to isolate yourself and stay home; this is a trigger for most people. Staying active and finding fun things to do that don’t involve negative behaviors avoids feelings of loss, isolation or sadness.

» Keep exercising – there are lots of seasonal activities to do over the winter holiday season to keep active and focused on physical well-being. Go skating or sledding, try out snowshoeing, go for a winter hike or even try downhill skiing or snowboarding.

» Be kind to yourself – build in time to think about the blessings in your life and what you have accomplished on your road to recovery. This is a great time just to be kind to yourself and set goals for the New Year to keep you moving forward with your plan.

It is also critical at this time of year to talk to family and friends and start to plan the holidays in advance. When your family and friends are in your support network, they may actually initial these conversations and plan a holiday season that will continue to support your recovery. Your support network is there because they love you and care about your recovery, but they may need help in understanding what you need over this sometimes difficult time of the year.