Holiday stress is real, and it can have a particularly detrimental impact for those in recovery. However, there are a number of strategies you can employ to maintain recovery during the holidays and ensure your health and well-being are a priority.
While we may even love the holiday season — parties, social gatherings, decorations, indulgent food, time off work, and more quality time with friends and family — it can become overwhelming. We might start to feel unwell after eating more than usual, the increase in commitments might lead to burn out and possibly a cold or flu, and it can be challenging to navigate family dynamics or say no to extra demands on your time. But it is entirely possible!
Here are our top ten ideas to maintain recovery over the holidays
- Plan to rest. Schedule at least one non-negotiable day of rest each week, and do nothing that evening apart from caring for yourself and resting.
- Say no. It can be quite a revelation to learn that telling people no doesn’t require approval or explanation. “No” is a complete sentence. Before accepting invitations, consider the big picture: Is this event appropriate for your recovery and how you feel? What are your energy levels? What do you have planned the day after? Do you have the time to commit to an extra event? If any of these answers are no, it might be best to decline the invite.
- Always drive to parties. It’s wise to always have an escape route planned. If you don’t have a car, plan to get an Uber or catch a ride from a close friend or family member.
- Take a sober friend to events. Sobriety is better in numbers, especially at events during the holiday season where booze is everywhere. Having a friend close by with the same goal will provide support and a reason for you to both leave early!
- Increase self-care activities. In addition to the rest day, plan extra treats like massages, pedicures, facials and anything else that is relaxing and rejuvenating. That might also include regular walks in nature, reading a book, going to a park, or sitting alone in your favorite coffee shop enjoying a hot drink for 30 minutes.
- Exercise. Movement increases your body’s ability to cope with stress, increases energy levels, and improves sleep. Try to move for 30 minutes three to four times per week. If you’re struggling for time, try a walk on your lunch break, a high-intensity interval class, parking your car a ten-minute walk from work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Eat well. Try to eat one nutritious meal a day — it will help sustain energy levels, ward off colds and viruses, and help you to make healthier choices. We’re not suggesting that you refrain from eating holiday dishes — enjoy them! We’re simply suggesting that one healthy meal a day will help keep you balanced and fuel your body effectively.
- Sleep. Ensure that you get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Your body needs it! Try to stick to your regular schedule whenever possible.
- Keep up recovery activities. If you regularly attend meetings, try to stick to your regular meetings if possible. It can be tempting to cancel in favor of a party, but you’ll need the support more during the holiday season.
- Limit time with challenging people. Try to avoid family members and friends who cause disagreements or make you feel uncomfortable. If that’s not possible, then limit the amount of time you are around them.
If you are struggling this holiday season, or know someone who might need our assistance, please contact us to see how we can help.
Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and content strategist. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to providing the ingredients to live a fulfilling life in recovery. Liv also co-founded the podcast Breaking Free: Your Recovery. Your Way. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and publications, including The Fix, Ravishly, Workit Health, Grok Nation, and STAT News.