Health & Wellness Living in Recovery Mental Health

7 Tips for Navigating the Holidays if You’re Struggling in Recovery

Managing your recovery can be challenging even in optimal times, but the holidays can add increased stress to your usual routine. Planning in advance- and having coping strategies in place- can help you feel more confident this season. Read More

Managing your recovery can be challenging even in optimal times, but the holidays can add increased stress to your usual routine. Planning in advance- and having coping strategies in place- can help you feel more confident this season.

1. Identify Your Triggers

Triggers are inevitable, and it’s essential that you recognize them before they feel catastrophic. Think about the potential people, places, or situations that could result in cravings. 

If you can anticipate that you’re going to be in a stressful situation, set limits ahead of time. Consider bringing a supportive friend with you. And remember, you can always say no- no event is worth sabotaging your recovery! 

2. Maintain a Recovery Routine 

The holidays can cause some changes, but sticking to your usual schedule as much as possible can help you feel on track and focused. Even positive change may feel stressful- try to keep a sense of predictability throughout your day.

Some people find it helpful to start with a morning routine. For example, you can wake up at the same time each morning, take a shower, and meditate for a few moments. Or, as you unwind for the night, you might decide to write down your gratitude and spend a few moments reading inspiring recovery text. 

3. Lean on More Support 

Despite all the clichés about connectivity and love, many people feel exceedingly lonely during the holidays. If you’re new in recovery, you might feel disconnected from yourself and others. Even if you’ve been sober for many years, it’s normal to struggle with feelings of isolation.

That’s why leaning on support is vital during this time. Make an effort to contact old or new friends. Go to meetings if they help you feel connected. Even sending a text message to someone you care about can help you feel better.

4. Practice More Self-Care

Self-care becomes even more essential when life feels hectic. Managing your stress can improve your emotional and physical health, and it may also mitigate intense cravings.

Don’t sacrifice self-care just because you “get busy” during the holidays. Commit to prioritizing your physical health by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Optimize your mental health by spending time with supportive people, engaging in enjoyable hobbies or activities, and practicing stress management. 

5. Create New Traditions

The holidays are often associated with overindulgence. That mindset, of course, can be dangerous for people in recovery.

However, you have the power to recreate how you enjoy holidays. Maybe you decide to go to the beach on Christmas or host a barbecue. Perhaps you opt to volunteer on Thanksgiving morning and give back to those less fortunate. 

Whatever you do, you don’t have to justify it! You have every right to enjoy the season in a way that makes sense for you. 

6. Develop Exit Plans

It’s unrealistic to avoid all triggers, and having that expectation often sets people up for failure. Instead, it’s better to plan how you will leave a situation if it starts feeling toxic.

For example, maybe you enlist a sober friend and agree that you can contact them at any point to pick you up. Or, perhaps you commit to driving yourself to events to avoid depending on others wanting to leave. 

7. Remember the Big Picture

If the holidays feel stressful, it can be beneficial to continue reminding yourself of all the reasons why recovery is non-negotiable to you. Knowing these motives can help you feel empowered and disciplined- even when stress arises.

Consider making a list of your top reasons and putting it in your purse or wallet. Refer to it as often as you need.