Healthy Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season While in Recovery

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Healthy Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season While in Recovery

The holiday season this year might be different from any others due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are choosing to remain home with immediate family members or stay home alone this year. This year might be challenging for individuals in recovery, as feelings of isolation or loneliness might be a trigger for addictions. We also might be attending smaller gatherings—depending upon restrictions—which may open the door to triggers. Whether you are alone or celebrating with others, maintaining sobriety during the holidays might be challenging. You might experience internal and environmental triggers that cause cravings. These feelings can make the holiday season stressful and even dreadful. However, by making a plan and preparing ahead of time, you can remain safe, happy, and sober this holiday season. 

Create a Plan to Celebrate

Everyone is navigating celebrations this year and making changes due to restrictions. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, from work and social activities to relationships and families. While this change might be overwhelming, we can choose to make the best of it. We might enjoy a holiday with our immediate family or enjoy some personal time with ourselves this season. Either way, the best thing to do is to create a plan to celebrate. We should start to think about this at least a few weeks or days in advance, so we are not scrambling as the moment arrives. This year, you might want to:

  • Understand the COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines in your town or state. By knowing the safety recommendations, you can plan your holiday season while staying safe.
  • Consider the restrictions of your family members and friends. Your friends and family might fall under different guidelines, especially if they live in different states. You might need to plan for a COVID-19 test before and following any visits. You might also need to self-quarantine after visits.
  • Think of alternative means of connecting with others. We have many options available to communicate with our loved ones this year that do not involve direct contact. Video chatting can help us stay connected this year.
  • Mail cards and gifts this season if you are unable to visit others in-person. You can utilize many online shopping services without going out to stores. 

We can adapt and overcome the pandemic; however, we might need to consider the restrictions and guidelines ahead of time to celebrate safely. This year might feel a lot different; however, this does not mean we cannot celebrate or connect with others. 

Triggers and Maintaining Sobriety

Some of us might struggle with our addictions during this time of the year. Holidays can be triggering for many people in recovery. We might experience a lot of stress or recollect past events that are troubling for us. However, we can actively plan to maintain sobriety this holiday season. Considering the potential for stress this year due to the pandemic, we need to be especially careful to manage triggers. We can take some of these steps to remain clean and sober:

  • Connect with others to avoid feelings of loneliness
    • While we might be restricted, be sure to reach out to others.
    • We can connect to others in recovery online or through apps to remain within the recovery community.
  • Get support when triggered
    • Reaching out if you feel triggered this year can help you stay sober.
    • Be sure to have support available and talk with supportive friends before the holidays if this season triggers you.
    • If this time of year is difficult for you, ask friends to check in on you or call you during the holiday season.
  • Keep temptations out of the home
    • Make sure that any substances or alcohol are out of your home or not quickly accessible.
    • If you usually celebrate with drinking or other substances, be mindful of cravings this year. Make sure that others within your household understand your triggers and are helping you stay sober.

For Those Celebrating Alone

Remember that in recovery, you are not alone. If you have not reached to support groups or 12-step programs, you might want to consider making contact before the holiday season. If you have strained family relationships, you can find a family within your recovery community. Contact recovery groups in your community to make sure you have positive people in your life before the holiday season begins. Online groups and apps can also virtually connect you with others. If you are celebrating alone, take time for self-care. Watch enjoyable movies, go for a walk, self-reflect, or find other healthy activities that make you feel happy.

Our normal holidays might be disrupted considerably this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We might need to change our traditions and feel more stressed this year than in years past. When you are in recovery, the holidays might be a uniquely stressful time of year. Each of us deals with holiday stress. Many people, both in and out of recovery, experience elevations of stress this time of the year. Social obligations and hosting can leave us feeling depleted. This year, we may have limited contact with those mattering most to us. We can adjust and make it through the holidays this year. Make sure to continue your self-care and create a plan. Holidays might be trickier this year. Be sure to check with your area’s guidelines before traveling or visiting. If you continue to feel overwhelmed or need more support, The Kimberly Center is here for you. Call us today at (855) 452-3683.


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