8 Tips to Stay Festive in Recovery

Johnny Joy

The holiday season. For someone newly in recovery, it can be a tough time. Trust me, I know from personal experience. I’m in recovery myself, and have coached many others through the experience. Here are my most tried-and-true tips to help you through this stretch of the year.

  • Make a plan for the day. Think ahead about where you’re going, what you’re doing, and the people you’ll be seeing. It’ll make it easier for you to manage emotions, expectations, and potential triggers.
  • Be prepared to feel a little lonely. It’s okay, and it’ll pass. Even if you’re surrounded by loved ones, the holidays can be a very lonely time for someone in recovery. Give yourself a break. These feelings are normal, and they won’t last forever. Try to reflect on all your accomplishments in recovery this year!
  • Treat yourself. The holiday season is a time to indulge, and just because you’re in recovery doesn’t mean you have to go without. Grab that extra slice of pie. Stay up late watching silly movies. Find ways to make yourself feel rewarded, without involving alcohol or drugs.
  • Be open about your recovery. It might sound scary, but I  recommend being honest with your loved ones. They won’t judge you—they’ll support you. And you’ll feel a thousand pounds lighter.
  • Holiday cheer doesn’t have to revolve around alcohol. Remember: You don’t need a drink in your hand to participate in your favorite holiday activities. Wrapping gifts, singing carols, spending time with family. Sure, there are many traditions that coincide with drinking. But you can participate in all of them without having to drink or use.
  • Remind yourself: substances aren’t the answer to your problems. The holidays can be painful and hard. That’s why it’s more important than ever to remember that drinking or using won’t fix anything. I’ve helped hundreds of people in recovery. Not one of them has ever drank or used their way out of bad feelings at the holidays.
  • Plan your lifelines in advance. Have someone you can call, and let them know you might need time to talk. If meetings are for you, find them prior to traveling. If you find yourself a little overwhelmed at any point in the celebrations, politely excuse yourself. Those that matter won’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.
  • Reflect on what your recovery means to you. The holidays are simply days, just like any others. They will pass and you’ll remain strong, resolute, and relieved to have passed through such an emotional gauntlet.

Your recovery is a gift and a badge of honor. Maintaining recovery during the holidays is a huge challenge—it’s also an incredible achievement. Keep these tips in mind as you head out for holiday travel and parties. Enjoy the season, and congratulations on all your hard work!

Man in a support group

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