No matter which of the holidays you celebrate, this season tends to be a whirlwind filled with travel, family and friends, food and, hopefully, the joy of giving. Some time off from work and school also means if you are lucky, that a bit of relaxation is in order. But if you are in recovery or have a loved one in recovery, one of the most important things you can do this season is to keep up the recovery momentum that you or your loved one have begun to create. Here are a handful of small, daily actions that can be taken to ensure that recovery remains a healthy priority.
If you are in recovery:
Stay connected to your recovery squad.
If you are traveling for the holidays you might feel disconnected from your routine. This could include classes, a job, your favorite meetings, or the community you have found in your home away from home. No need to fear! Group texts, Facebook, and online recovery resources can come to your rescue. Check in with people who have shown that they are supportive of your recovery. Stay tuned for Life of Purpose posts – and posts from other treatment providers and recovery organizations – on Facebook. Check out the podcast Recovery 2.0. The opportunities to stay connected go on and on.
If there is alcohol present at your holiday gatherings, do not hesitate to be vocal if it is making you uncomfortable. You have worked hard for your recovery and deserve to feel supported, not triggered, by the holiday environment. Of course, you always have the option of stepping outside to make a call to one of your recovery supports for a check-in. If you still don’t feel at ease, show yourself some love by taking a walk or, if you can, going for a drive.
Keep a daily gratitude list.
My mentor suggested this to me a couple of years ago and I am constantly amazed at the positive impact that it has on my recovery. It is one thing to think about the things you are grateful for – an uplifting exercise on its own! – but to write them down is an entirely different experience. By putting pen to paper and acknowledging our gifts (both big and small) on a daily basis, it is hard not to be very aware of all that recovery has brought into our lives. Bonus: invite a loved one or a friend who is in recovery to keep their own gratitude list then exchange them with each other!
If your loved one is in recovery:
Encourage their recovery momentum.
Ask them what would be most helpful to sustain their recovery over the course of the holidays. Perhaps they would love a ride to a meeting. Maybe they just want to chat now and again about developments in their recovery or a newfound hobby they’ve picked up in sobriety. While making sure to maintain healthy boundaries for yourself, remain as open as possible to what your loved one needs to keep their momentum going!
If alcohol is present at your holiday gatherings:
Don’t be shy to talk directly with your loved one about their comfort level with being at gatherings where there is alcohol. There are suggestions on this topic earlier in this piece that are specifically geared toward them, but your role is important, too. It is vital to their recovery for your family member or friend to feel as though their sobriety is valued, especially during a season that tends to be filled with alcohol. Make a plan with them for how you and they will handle being in these situations. Remind them that they have recovery supports throughout the holiday season (and year-round!).
Empower your loved one.
Recovery is sustained, in part, by the person in recovery feeling as though their new path is making a difference in the lives of those around them. For them to hear from you that their sobriety and recovery is creating positive ripple effects into their family and community will help to solidify their upward trajectory.
These are only some of the ways that you and your loved ones can keep recovery as a priority over the next few – sometimes challenging – weeks. Brainstorm some of your own ways, too!
At Life of Purpose, we are committed to providing a full spectrum of specialized substance use disorder treatment and recovery support, year-round. If you are interested in collegiate recovery options, contact us 24 hours a day.