The holidays can be the most dreaded time of year for people in recovery. The hustle and bustle of family parties, gift exchanges and the inability to isolate from others. Here are some ways to make the holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable:
Make a Schedule
Create an hour-by-hour schedule to keep yourself on track of activities, events and appointments throughout the week. Even including bed, meal time and hygiene time can help to ensure you are meeting your own needs before everyone else’s needs. Having a visual aid can help to provide time management skills.
Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care
Engaging in self-care activities before and after holiday activities can help to keep stress at bay. Self-care can be as simple as taking a shower, meditation, yoga, going for a walk, playing with a pet, ect. Self-care does not always need to be activities that cost money; free activities are just as effective.
Sober (12 Step) Support
Anonymous meetings are a great way to receive support outside of treatment and family settings. There are meetings in person, online and over the phone. Utilizing a sober connection such as a sponsor can help during times when urges and cravings arise during holiday parties and events. Even taking a sober support with you to a holiday party can make the event more enjoyable!
Identifying people, places and things that are not supportive of your recovery can help to set limits and boundaries. Practice saying “no” to favors and plans that may be problematic or non-recovery focused. Family members and friends may try to push limits and boundaries, be sure to make limits and boundaries speakable.
A colleague of mine suggests this to her residents, “Make the holidays fit your recovery, don’t force your recovery to fit your old holiday traditions.” For example, if your family usually has an alcoholic punch, create a non-alcoholic punch as a new tradition.
Creating new memories will bring excitement and motivation to be clean and sober, especially during the holidays!
Marissa Hatcher, MSW, CADC
Addictions Program Coordinator at Timberline Knolls