How to Survive Your First Holiday Season in Recovery
by Lisa Walker
The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and togetherness. However, for someone just starting out on their recovery journey, they can be anything but. Whether you’re used to celebrating the holidays with your substance of choice or are heading into tense family get-togethers, the first holiday season in recovery can pose a serious threat to your sobriety. If you want to avoid falling back into old habits, you need a plan. Use these strategies to get through this holiday season with your sobriety intact.
Be Honest with Yourself
The holidays are stressful during the best of times. If you’re still in the early stages of recovery, ask yourself if diving head-first into holiday celebrations — and the drinking and drama they often come with — is a test you’re up for. While it hurts to feel left out, if attending holiday get-togethers poses a threat to your sobriety, it may be best to send a card and sit them out.
Stay Connected with Your Support Network
If you do attend holiday gatherings, staying connected to your sober support system is a must. As guilty as you may feel calling your sponsor or sober buddy at midnight on Christmas Eve, that’s what they’re there for — so use it. You may also want to download apps that keep you focused on recovery when stress spikes over the holidays. Buddhify, for example, tailors mindfulness meditations to how you’re feeling, whether you’re waiting around and feeling impatient or stressed and can’t sleep. Sober Grid is another great app for sobriety; this app connects you with others in recovery to share encouragement so a support system is never more than a few clicks away.
If you’re spending the holidays at home, make sure you’ll have cell phone coverage and plenty of texts and calls to reach your recovery network. You’ll also need a reliable internet connection to run and download any helpful apps; you may even qualify for discounted service.
Have an Escape Plan for Toxic Conversations
Unless your family is made of saints, odds are someone will say something that hits a nerve this holiday season. As tempting as it may be to strike back, engaging in heated conversations will only leave you feeling worse. Instead of getting defensive, have an escape plan for uncomfortable conversations. Changing the subject is a good plan A, but if that fails, don’t hesitate to politely excuse yourself. Whether you volunteer for dish duty or slip into a spare bedroom for a quick meditation session, a few minutes away could be just what you need.
Avoid Overextending Yourself
You don’t have to attend every single holiday gathering or buy a gift for every person, especially if doing so will leave you stressed out. When it comes to your first sober holiday season, the most important thing is knowing your limits and respecting them. If that means ducking out of Christmas dinner before dessert or only buying gifts for immediate family, that’s okay! Living up to short-lived expectations isn’t more important than your long-term recovery.
If You Slip Up, Don’t Give Up
Even with the most well-laid plans, relapses can happen. Instead of letting a relapse discourage you from recovery, take the necessary steps to get your sobriety back on track. The Centered Recovery mindfulness-based non-12 step drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can help you get clean and recommit to recovery efforts so you can move forward in recovery.
Your first holiday season in recovery is the hardest, but the challenges don’t go away even when you have years of sobriety under your belt. During this holiday season and every one hereafter, make sure you have a plan for putting your recovery first. Only with continued commitment can you make long-term sobriety a reality in your life.
To learn more about how Centered Recovery’s insightful facilitators and highly skilled therapists can put you on the path to recovery, call 800.556.2966 or fill out this contact form.
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