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While the holidays can be stressful for everyone, this time of year can be immensely challenging for persons in recovery, as we navigate contact with family and food, parties and people drinking. Many of us may find conscious and subconscious memories flood our experience, causing us to feel triggered and off balance. There may be reminders of lost loved ones, or times when we were hurt, bringing up feelings of grief and loneliness. Or old resentments and anger can surface, leaving us filled with rage. While the response might be to want to isolate, this can leave us in a potentially vulnerable place in our recovery.
This holiday season, try to build in intentional opportunities to connect with people who understand you and who are willing to listen nonjudgmentally, whether at a recovery meeting, a faith-based gathering, or a yoga/meditation or peer support community.
As Tommy Rosen, person in recovery and author of Recovery 2.0 says, “If you feel like you have no family to be with, then choose to be with friends. If you feel like you have no friends then go down to the soup kitchen and serve food to the homeless over the holidays. There, you will find kindness, compassion and human connection. You will be in the solution to addiction.”
Below find some holiday survival tips from persons living in recovery:
- Start with a meeting and set the tone for your holiday If you are going home or traveling anywhere, when you arrive, try to go to a meeting first. For some this will mean a 12-Step meeting or another kind of recovery meeting. Do this first before you get pulled into the energies of family or whomever you are going to be with.
- Recognize and confront the saboteur Be aware of your mind’s tendency to sabotage your efforts. Your mind will be working overtime to get you to break your commitments to yourself. Just bringing awareness to this tendency and remaining conscious of it helps to release its power over you.
- Take breaks If things get uncomfortable for you, take a walk, go to a meeting or yoga class or call up a peer, trusted friend or sponsor. You do not have to sit in an uncomfortable situation. You can always just take a break.
- Be in the attitude of service Show up this holiday season with an attitude of generosity towards others. You’ll be amazed what this does for your recovery. Service can take many forms. You can feed people who are homeless, of course. And you can also help out your family. Assist with the holiday food prep and cleanup tasks. Be present as much as you can. Ask them how they are doing, and practice being a great listener.
- Remember…you can stay on your recovery path, even during the holiday season. Ask for help when you need it! You’re never alone.
- Families and Addiction-Surviving the Season of Stress (Social Work Today)
- 5 Ways to Survive the Holiday Sober (HuffPost)
- For Former Addicts, Grief and Loss Can Haunt the Holidays(PsychCentral)
- How Recovering Addicts Navigate Holiday Party Season (Redeye)
- Recovering Addicts Talk About the Struggle to Avoid Relapsing During the Holidays (Vice)
- How to Cope When Your Holiday Guest is an Alcoholic or Addict(Health US News)
- Holiday Gifts for the Sober Addict (Psychology Today)
- Managing Food Addiction During the Holidays (Healing Minds)