A wise friend in the recovery community once told me that you cannot remove something from your life without replacing it with something else and that if you don’t mindfully choose the replacement, you might end up with something that doesn’t benefit you. If you are someone who is considering removing some old holiday activities from your calendar in order to fortify your sobriety, it’s important to think about how you will replace those risky events with something more in line with your life in recovery.
Sober Holiday Activities
Sometimes it is possible to continue partaking in old traditions, but in a careful way. The blog post we shared on Sober Holiday Planning can help you to think ahead about the parts of the holiday season that can present a challenge to staying sober and to make a plan for how you want to navigate activities that might not be fully under your control. If, however, there are events that you have determined are not supportive of the sober life you want to lead, there are a number of other ways you can still enjoy the holidays.
Socialize on Your Own Terms
When you’re the one issuing the invitation, it’s easier to ensure holiday activities will remain substance-free. There are a number of ways you can set up a sober social opportunity for yourself:
- Invite a friend or family member to meet up for coffee, either in-person or online.
- Host a game night with sober friends. This can be done virtually or face-to-face.
- Organize a baking session to make holiday cookies and candies, or make the treats on your own and schedule a time to visit with loved ones and share what you have made.
- Help a loved one wrap Christmas gifts and decorate their home for the season.
- Host a holiday movie night.
- Find out what holiday events are happening near you and invite some friends to join you.
The twelfth step of recovery is giving back, and the holiday season presents many opportunities to do just that:
- Volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen or food pantry.
- Participate in a winter coat drive by buying a coat or, if that’s more than you can afford, some warm gloves or a hat.
- Visit residents at a nursing home who might be especially lonely around the holidays.
- Donate to a toy drive.
- Pay a utility bill for someone in need.
- Take excess, gently used blankets to a homeless shelter.
Enjoy the Solitude
There is nothing wrong with making good use of alone time. Having a solid plan for how to use your time alone can reduce the odds that you will feel lonely or isolated. There are a number of ways to enjoy the holiday season on your own:
- Write your own holiday story or poem. Include family members and friends and share the tale with them later.
- Purchase and put together a holiday puzzle.
- Make some Christmas ornaments or other crafts.
- Attend a holiday concert on your own.
- Take a walk or go for a drive to enjoy the winter scenery and decorations.
- Decorate a gingerbread house.
Get Out of Town
For some people, taking some time away from home during the holidays can reduce their stress and give them a ready explanation for not attending events that aren’t supportive of their sober life. The Huffington Post shared a guide to sober vacation options, which appeal to a wide range of interests:
- Meditation retreats – these tend to draw people who are looking to focus on wellness and are less likely to offer alcohol or other drugs.
- Ski trips – while some people do imbibe on ski trips, skiing is best done with a clear head, and inviting sober friends will ensure a supportive group vibe.
- Spa vacation – these often have a focus on detoxing and rejuvenation, which generally means substances aren’t offered.
- City trip – travel to a nearby city for a musical theater performance, visiting the sites and doing other things you might not always get to do at home.
- Adventure excursions – many state and national parks don’t allow alcohol, and some companies specialize in offering alcohol-free travel adventures.
- Road trip – it can be very rejuvenating to take some time off work and drive to a different part of the state or country. This can be done alone or with loved ones.
We Are Here to Help
Regardless of how you spend your holidays, by centering each day around your recovery, you can reduce the chances that you will relapse. Should you need support in making a plan for the holiday season, the professionals at Safe Harbor Recovery Center are able to work with each guest to build individualized plans for success.