The Holidays and Your Recovery: Tips for Changing Traditions to Fit Your New Life
A life in addiction recovery is different than it used to be, and that’s a good thing. Yet the holidays tend to be a trying time, a period when you’re unsure if old traditions really fit who you are now and what you want for your future. Sitting around a table while family members argue and drink does not exactly support your recovery goals.
This year, make it a point to change how you celebrate the holidays. They do not have to involve the same activities, people, and experiences as they did last year. If you are religious, you can still celebrate the spiritual meaning of the holidays. But other traditions can be rebuilt to fit your new lifestyle.
Changing a long-standing holiday tradition can be challenging but also empowering. It helps you to leave behind old triggers and improve your confidence.
How to Create New Traditions for the Holidays
Take a moment now to write down things that bother you about the holidays. What’s worrisome? It could be specific people. Perhaps it’s a location that is very trying for you to be in during this time of the year. Knowing where the pain comes from is a necessary starting point to addressing it. Here are some ideas to help you create new plans.
- Eliminate Expectations and Create a Fun Experience
Instead of a pile of gifts, try to create an experience for your family. For example, you may be able to take a few days away to spend at a rented cabin to rejuvenate and reconnect. If you can’t get away, create a no-phone-zone weekend at home. Spend that time enjoying each other’s company by playing board games, watching movies, and sharing stories.
- Try New Locations
For some people, a new holiday tradition is hard because you’re expected to go to your aunt’s home or grandparent’s place. Yet when you’re in recovery, you must be willing to give yourself the time to heal, and that often means changing the venue of holiday traditions associated with past or present trauma or substance use.
To talk about this subject with family, consider these tips:
- Ask that they respect your inability to be at the traditional holiday celebrations this year.
- Create another time and location where your loved ones can spend time with you, perhaps on a different day during the season.
Find a way to celebrate the holidays that makes you feel comfortable. That could mean staying at home or going to a friend’s house.
Instead of a big holiday dinner, you may want to choose a restaurant with a few close friends. The key is to create a significant change so that the experience feels new. Be honest with yourself and others about what you need.
Spend Your Holidays Volunteering
A person in drug and alcohol recovery needs many people in their life to rely on. But as your recovery strengthens, you can become someone that others rely on, too. Volunteer to help with holiday meal prep at an addiction treatment center near you. Find out if there is a church or community program that’s helping to provide meals to those in the community. Offer to help even in small ways or within limited amounts of time.
Volunteering can be even simpler and more personal. Do you have a senior citizen in your neighborhood who is alone on the holidays? Why not share your time with them? Perhaps you want to volunteer to help a friend by spending time with their children while they prepare for the holiday.
Stay Connected with Therapy and Recovery Meetings
Loneliness, emotional baggage, and a sense of sadness are not uncommon for people in recovery, especially during the holidays. Recognize that you need change, and realize that change is okay. Work through these emotions with your treatment center’s outpatient program, your personal therapist, or a recovery support group. Be willing to support yourself and others.
Take this time to journal about how you feel. Spend time in meditation or focused activity to help you remain calm and maintain perspective.
Are You Ready to Find Treatment, Support, and Recovery?
This holiday season, if you’re ready to embrace recovery, let Victory Addiction Recovery Center help you. Learn more about our addiction treatment center in Lafayette, LA, and how we’re helping to support men and women battling addiction every day of the year.
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