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6 Ways to Stay in Recovery During the Holiday Season

Delton Russell — December 4, 2018 — 3 min read
So often, we have big expectations around the holidays. But the truth is, the holidays can be stressful. And even lonely.

For those in recovery, managing the idea of what the holidays should be – combined with feelings of isolation and loneliness – creates a unique set of triggers. Here are six ways to improve your well-being and stay in recovery this holiday season. (And just between us, this list is useful for anyone—not just those in recovery. Please share.) 

1. Be thankful.

Try to start or end each day with gratitude. Make a list of things that happened or anyone you interacted with that you’re thankful for. Doing so can help you see the opportunities and fullness in your own life. 

2. Have a plan.

Before the holidays begin, reflect on what you need to do each day to stay well, how to identify triggers, and create a plan to manage those triggers. Take steps to identify and address uncomfortable behaviors. Make sure you’ve identified several people in your life who are natural support systems for you and who are there for you when you need to talk.  

3. Make Connections.

One of the keys to sobriety and wellness is building positive relationships. To reduce feelings of loneliness, try to include people and new activities in your life. Taking a community education class or picking up a new sport, hobby, or social activity is a great way to meet new people with common interests. Also, be patient. Give yourself plenty of time to meet new friends and nurture those relationships into meaningful connections. At the same time, remind yourself that different people can, and will, fill different roles in your life—some you’ll be closer with than others, and that’s okay. 

4. Reach out.

On the same note, take a moment to reach out to those you care about to let them know how much they mean to you. That can be as simple as sending a text message or stopping by with a box of treats. Your kind words or actions can make a big impact on their lives—and you never know, they may be facing their own stress or crisis. If you find that to be true, ask them what’s going on, keep the conversation positive and supportive, and see if you can find out what they need to feel better. Be there. Be the change. Both you and your loved ones will feel better for it. 

5. Give back.

Volunteer for community service or charity work. Even help in small ways can make someone else’s life a little better. And the act of helping others is known to improve self-worth and gratitude. Plus, in working alongside other volunteers, you may find new friends. 

6. Be flexible.

Say “yes” when you can to festive events and “no” when you need time to yourself. Let go of hopes that some relationships should be different or better—or holiday celebrations should be a certain way—and connect with those who bring positive energy into your life. Agree to steer clear of topics that have sparked arguments in the past.

Taking good care of yourself and those you care about begins with accepting the gift that each new day brings, which is exactly what the holiday season is about. I hope yours is full of joy.  

If you or someone you love is struggling during the holidays, or any time of year, reach out to our 24/7 Crisis Line at 1-800-939-5911.

Delton Russell holds several certifications, including being a North Carolina-certified Peer Support Specialist, a Peer Support trainer, Question Persuade Refer (QPR) trainer as well as a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator. With a focus on substance use disorders and as a person in long-term recovery himself from both substance use and mental health issues, Delton is extremely passionate about addressing the stigma associated with addiction and the barriers that prevent people from getting into recovery.
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Updated on November 22, 2019 to edit author information.
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