With the holidays approaching, the chaos of normal life gets an added dose of stress and anticipation, especially if you’re in recovery. The calm of your daily routine may feel like it’s about to be turned upside down with the arrival of family and the onslaught of social activities that, inevitably, include alcohol.
But after the loneliness and isolation of the holidays last year due to the pandemic, there is a lot to celebrate this year, and there’s no need to miss out on time with loved ones out of fear of old habits taking over. Thanksgiving is a time for counting our blessings, so here are a few strategies for making the best of this time of year and using it to supercharge your healthy habits for the future.
Whether you’re hosting extended family or attending dinner as a guest, preparation is key. To ensure that you maintain a calm and focused state before - and during - the holidays, continue to practice daily habits such as intentions, exercise, restful sleep and meditation.
This can be a hectic time of year and that added stress can make sobriety even more challenging, but by continuing to build upon the habits you have in place, you will find that it’s possible to enjoy yourself AND stick to your goals.
This is the perfect holiday to remind yourself of how far you have come, but it’s also ok to excuse yourself if you’re uncomfortable and take a moment to recenter yourself. Take deep breaths and remind yourself of your “why” for being sober and all the challenges you have already overcome to get to where you are today. Be proud of that progress, take strength from your resolve, and give yourself permission to be fully engaged in the conversation and festivities.
Holidays are a time for relaxation, so do the things that bring you the most joy, fun or pleasure. Participate in games or outdoor activities with friends and family that activate your endorphins and bring a sense of well-being and pleasure to the holidays, or enjoy the simple comfort of being surrounded by loved ones and taking part in holiday traditions.
The key to using Thanksgiving to support your recovery is finding the moments that bring you joy without harmful substances, so use this time to rediscover what you love most about the holiday and go do it!
One common trigger during recovery is being surrounded by others who are indulging in alcohol when you can’t or won't. To avoid this temptation and pitfall, try introducing nonalcoholic beverages, like Athletic Brewing NA beers, Noughty AF sparkling wines or a fun alcohol-free cocktail making kit from “We Are Raising the Bar,” to mix up tasty alcohol-free cocktails. If you’re hosting, make some extra for your guests. Who knows, they might find them so tasty that they’ll join you in celebrating the holiday alcohol-free!
When it comes to food choices, introducing some healthy food alternatives as side dishes will help mitigate the potential to overeat unhealthy things. However, balance is key, so remember that it is ok to reward yourself with some indulgences for being strong in your sobriety and enjoy every bite of that piece of pie!
Even with friends and family all around you, you may need some extra support to make it through Thanksgiving sober. This is a great time to check in with your accountability partner, sponsor, mentor, or coach, as they can relate to your situation and will likely have sound advice and motivation for making it through the holiday season without falling back on old habits.
Your sober network also serves another purpose: they are there to remind you that whatever stage in your journey you are at, that’s exactly where you are meant to be. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, and assessing how far you’ve come and the consistent progress you’re making with your support system is a powerful way to prioritize and continue making progress in the right direction.
Every year, millions of people use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to acknowledge all the things that they are grateful for, and taking part in this tradition is a fundamental part of the holiday. But it’s also important to keep something in mind: gratitude and giving thanks should be a daily practice, and not just something we do once each year.
The recovery process can highlight all of the things you have regained by staying sober, and it’s powerful to affirm your intentions morning and night to stay on track. Thanksgiving is a powerful reminder of the positive impact of gratitude, so if you haven’t already, use this time to make a list of all the things you are grateful for and pledge to continue adding to it as you make your way towards recovery.
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