Sober for the Holidays: Approaching New Milestones in Recovery
“Gratitude is peace,” wrote Anne Lamott.
Today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I think of the serenity that echoes from the simple act of recognition.
The holiday season is full of tradition. For those in early recovery from addiction, these traditions may be tested by new environments, abandonment of old habits, and adoption of new routines. Festivities that are typically associated with alcohol become a challenging proposition, as the first holiday season in recovery becomes a major milestone of sobriety.
The winter months can bring a sense of joy in their many celebrations, though they can also bring a sense of dread, fear, or loneliness. If you are spending holidays apart from family and friends, these negative feelings can also include homesickness.
While the emotions associated with holidays can seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that certain stressors can be specific to this time of year. With an emphasis on family tradition and togetherness, holidays can create anxieties that may not exist during normal day-to-day interactions.
Tips for Sober Celebrations
With so many opportunities for stress to arise, prevention of anxiety is key. No matter how you are spending your celebrations, there are dozens of ways in which you can ground yourself in an attitude of gratitude and make the season one that is productive for your personal growth and conducive to your recovery.
1) Create new traditions.
Creating new traditions within your newfound sobriety allows you to reconnect with feelings of enjoyment and celebration. Try a new recipe, spend time with friends, or even start a holiday with yoga practice or a walk outside. Cultivating traditions that are unique to you in your recovery gives a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that you can carry with you throughout the year.
2) Practice self-care.
Stressors are inevitable, no matter how we may try to avoid them. Actively practicing self-care works against these stressors, allowing you to approach the holiday season with a sense of calm and clarity. Set aside some time each day to focus on a self-care activity such as exercise, meditation, or journaling.
3) Re-evaluate your goals in recovery.
The end of the year is a perfect time to re-center yourself in your recovery program. Whether this means creating a new list of goals, checking in with your therapist or sponsor, or simply paying closer attention to the work that you are doing in your treatment program.
4) Reach out to sober supports.
In the midst of holiday chaos, don’t hesitate to reach out to your sober support system. They have been exactly where you are, experiencing special occasions for the first time in sobriety, and can offer a valuable perspective.
5) Exercise gratitude.
Find the peace of gratitude through a commitment to gratefulness. Remind yourself of how the progress you have made in your recovery, and of the opportunity that lies ahead.
From everyone here at team RECO, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.