The holiday season…remember

December 22, 2014

The holiday season can be the most difficult time of year for those in those in alcohol or drug recovery and their families. The period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day seems filled with holiday events, parties, family gatherings, travel, and all the stress that goes with the season. Many approach this time with serious concerns about maintaining sobriety.

Let us not lose track about what the holidays are really about. Keep the spirit of gratefulness and love in your heart.

Be mindful of potentially sticky situations, and we can get through the season and many more to come, happy, healthy, clean and sober. Here are a few suggestions for navigating the season in recovery.

Be grateful. See the holidays for what they really are. Be thankful for the things that bring you joy. The first snowfall, a beautiful day, a great friendship, another day of sobriety.

Reach out and help others. When we put ourselves out there and help someone else, put his or her needs first, we take the focus off of ourselves. We feel better. Volunteer at a hospital, animal shelter, or charity. Offer to babysit for a busy friend. Call a friend in need.

Think about the events you will attend and play the night through in your head. Is there a reason you must be there? Will there be supportive friends or acquaintances in attendance? Will there be people there from your past that you will be uncomfortable with? Do you have an exit plan if you feel uneasy? Bring along a supportive friend if you are the least bit uncomfortable. Plan on arriving early and leaving early. Check your motives for going in the first place. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t go.

Take it easy. Try not to say yes to everything and take on too many commitments and social responsibilities. This can make you feel overwhelmed and vulnerable. Make time in your schedule to relax and breathe. Take a night off to stay home and watch a great movie, take a bath, walk the dog, read a book. Give yourself permission to decline a social engagement. Your recovery comes first.

Change your routine. In the past, holiday celebrations may have all been about late night parties where alcohol played a big part. This year switch it up. Plan and attend events focused on healthy activities like ice skating, holiday parades, movies, plays, holiday cooking classes, celebrate the season with others in recovery…celebrate your health and sobriety.

Keep healthy commitments. In sobriety, honor your word. Prove to yourself and others that you are honest and dependable, that is a gift in itself.

Remember that loneliness can feel overwhelming during the holidays. Spend time with family and supportive friends. Connect with others in recovery for encouragement. Go to a meeting for positive reinforcement and support. Call your sponsor. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Remember that AA, NA, CA and other 12-step groups offer marathon meetings over the holidays.

Share your happiness! Let others know when you feel good about yourself, your sobriety, and your life. It is contagious! This is one of the many rewards of recovery.

Be good to yourself. As we near the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, remember to live in the now – youcannot change yesterday or control tomorrow. Just do your best in this moment.

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