Navigating the holidays for the newly sober is rarely easy. It’s rarely easy for those who are not in recovery! Despite the stress commonly associated with big meals, sensitive family discussions and tight schedules, those in recovery might actually be better equipped for the impending triggers. Just remember that with tips like these, those who’ve sought treatment for addiction or a mental health condition can successfully reconnect with their loved ones and rediscover the spirit of the holidays with enlightenment and understanding.
Stay Connected and Supported.
Before going to your Thanksgiving meal with family or friends, collect a list of phone numbers for recovery peers you can call if you have a hard time. Sometimes, it is good just to know people are there if you need them. You can reach out to them to ask them how they are doing. Sharing your experience of a first, awkward, Thanksgiving will help you not to feel isolated in your experience. Laugh together, pray together, and support one another. If you can, bring a friend with you to dinner!
Bring Tools For Mental Health Self-Care.
If you have a co-occurring diagnosis of substance use with another mental health disorder, you might experience difficulty. Bring the tools that help you calm down and get centered when you start to struggle. Coloring books, headphones with music, a favorite book to read, or whatever your tools are.
Take Alone Time.
When you feel like you have to get out and take a moment to breathe- take it. Step outside, walk down the street, and bring your mental health safety kit with you. Use your tools to focus on your breathing and get centered. Reach out to a friend or just take some quiet time.
Use Your Own Libations.
Attending a family meal where you used to drink with them can be hard if it is your first sober holiday event. To feel more at ease and part of the celebration, bring your own drinks! Find a favorite fruit juice, soda, or sparkling apple juice. You can cheers with the best of them and enjoy yourself.
Create A Game.
One of the curious things about being in recovery is noticing the characteristics of mental health in other people. You’re working hard on learning how to communicate, be compassionate, and relate your emotions to others. Especially as the alcohol gets going, you can keep track of all the ways people don’t do that. Laugh while you imagine what your individual or group therapy facilitators might have to say about some of your family’s behaviors!
Sit At The Kids Table.
Being around adults might be too much. To have fun for dinner, elect to sit at the kids table. Play games, sing songs and throw some food around. You earned your right to have fun again in life.
Help Out Wherever Possible.
If you find you are getting stuck in your head, ask where you can be of service. Set the table, help in the kitchen, clear the table, and do some dishes. Volunteer to take out the garbage or clean up. Being of service is a great way to get your body moving and focus your thoughts on a single activity rather than yourself.
Speak Comfortably About Your Recovery.
It’s likely that somebody is going to ask about your recovery. You don’t have to speak on what you aren’t comfortable with. Remember that now, you’re the beacon of hope. You never know who might be struggling. Try to meet any feelings of shame with feelings of confidence. You’re working hard and doing a great job.
Find A Meeting Nearby.
Most twelve-step meeting clubhouses hold a twenty-four-hour marathon of meetings during the holidays. That’s because the holidays can be hard for everyone in recovery! Before or after dinner, find a meeting nearby and take an hour for yourself and your recovery. Ask a supportive family member if they’d like to come along and see what you experience in recovery.
Thanksgiving is all about finding gratitude and giving thanks. Even in early recovery, this year you have a lot to be grateful for.
Avalon By The Sea is certified to treat both mental health disorders and substance use disorders as primary diagnoses, as well as co-occurring issues. Unparalleled clinical treatment in a luxury beachside setting, Avalon provides Southern California’s premiere treatment programs. For more information reach out to us by calling 1-888-958-7511.