Sober for the Holidays: Navigating the Holiday Season in Recovery

September comes with Labor Day, a sought after break from work and school with little to no extracurricular culture attached. October brings Halloween and the many other celebrations included on October 31st throughout the world. November comes with Thanksgiving and the looming promise of more- “the holidays”. No sooner do people put their Thanksgiving leftovers away for a week’s worth of lunches than the music, decorations, and frantic countdown to December celebrations begin. The commercialized culture of Christmas and the rest holiday season virally spreads from top to bottom, left to right, and suddenly its “the holidays”.

Full of good tidings and cheer, peace and joy, gratitude and thanks, there is seemingly nothing but positives to find in the holiday season. Holiday parties, the pressure of gift-giving, and a frenzy of colors, lights, music, and the expectation to be holly and jolly can feel like a bit much. Being newly sober during the holiday season can feel like chartering rough seas. With a few tips, you can navigate the holiday season in recovery and find ways to celebrate.

First, take an objective look at what the holidays are and what the holidays are not. At the core, “the holidays” are not a season, but a series of specific celebrations which fall on specific days. Depending on your religious beliefs and practices, in addition to your nationality and culture, you may have just one day of celebrations, or many. Those days are just like any other days. They start and then they finish.

Second, think about the magnitude of meaning applied to “the holidays”. Where do your beliefs about the holidays come from? What traditions and beliefs have you incorporated overtime? How do they make you feel? How much do you agree with them? What would you like to change about them? Freedom from addiction through recovery means actively choosing how you want to feel and what you want to think. If there is room to change your mind about the holidays, do so. You can choose to find more gratitude, find nuances to enjoy, and find ways to overcome beliefs that might cause you distress.

Lastly, create a “holidays game plan” for ensuring your recovery. Your ultimate gift to yourself and to others this holiday season is your sobriety. Bring your own drinks to the holiday party. Prepare a list of polite, assertive, and forceful declines to drinking invitations. Ultimately, your have earned your sobriety, so be proud. Plan an adventure or travel outings to places where “the holidays” aren’t “the holidays”. Find local marathon meetings and dive deep into the fellowship of recovery. Volunteer to serve food and donate toys to local organizations. Maintain your personal practice of self-care by continuing to exercise, balance your diet, and incorporate mindfulness meditations. Be thoroughly present with friends and family members, whenever you can. Give the gift of giving by giving people your time, your attention, and your gratitude. Most importantly, don’t pick up a drink or a drug, no matter what.

At Tree House Recovery, we’re helping men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery by helping men find their strength in body, mind, and spirit. For information on our Orange County programs, call us today: (855) 202-2138

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