You might also want to review the previous holiday survival guide for recovering alcoholics.
1. If you are still struggling, go to rehab.
Many addicts and alcoholics do not really see rehab as an option during the holidays, like that time is somehow “off limits” for them getting help. Actually, going to rehab during the holidays can be an awesome experience, if you become open to the idea. There are several advantages to spending Christmas and New Year’s in rehab:
* You discover a vacation that you never knew existed by removing yourself from the normal holiday routine.
* You remove yourself from lots of temptation at holiday parties, especially over New Year’s Eve of course.
* You think that you are “missing” the holiday, but you end up celebrating it in a unique way with a brand new “family” in treatment….a pleasantly surprising experience for most people.
If you are still struggling just to get clean and sober, and the holiday is threatening to steamroll you with massive amounts of stress, then just check out for a while and go to rehab. There are a million excuses of why you can’t do this, but ultimately it beats ending up in jail or the morgue.
Bottom line: don’t let the holidays keep you out of rehab. It is a great time to check in.
2. Reach out and help others. Engage in service work.
If you are not helping others on a regular basis in your recovery then you can stand to gain a lot by starting to do so. You can not imagine the benefits of doing so until you actually get your feet wet and start helping others directly. You can do this in a number of different ways:
* Take 12 step meetings into jails, institutions, or rehabs.
* Sponsor newcomers in recovery.
* Volunteer to help out, such as at a soup kitchen or even in a nursing home.
You will benefit regardless of who you help or how you help them. But the maximum benefit is achieved when you help others in recovery to stay clean and sober. So if you are struggling yourself, then you should focus on that.
Bottom line: Helping others in recovery is a powerful shortcut to strengthening your own recovery.
3. Make a resolution and start exercising…before New Year’s day.
Almost everyone can exercise, and should. Many people don’t. Those who don’t exercise on a regular basis are forgoing a huge opportunity to feel so much better in their recovery. Here are some tips to get you going:
* Don’t feel you have to join a gym or get a personal trainer or anything fancy. Simply walking for 30 minutes every day can be absolutely life-changing. But you have to do it, and you have to do it consistently.
* If you can walk for 30 minutes, try increasing your pace a bit next time. You don’t have to be a world class athlete, but the real benefit kicks in when you go from “casual stroll” to “vigorous exercise that boosts your heart rate.” You want to get a vigorous workout in order to really get the benefits. Doing so will make you feel great, sleep better, lose weight, increase your heart health, and so on. The benefits of vigorous exercise are practically limitless. Start doing it on a regular basis and it will change your life.
Bottom line: Physical exercise is the most underestimated tool of recovery. Everyone avoids it out of laziness. Embrace it instead and start feeling awesome.
4. Simplify to reduce stress. Eliminate time and money wasters. You will need more of both during the holidays.
Photo by bensonkua
Our lives can be hectic enough….with the holiday, it can get even worse. Reduce the stress level and find inner peace by cutting away that which is not truly important. You can do this in a number of ways:
* Say “no” to what you think of as obligations, but are really just chores that suck up your time and cause stress. For example, skip any holiday parties that are meaningless for you.
* Cut unnecessary bills for services that you no longer use. Ditch subscriptions that take money each month and demand time that you don’t have to waste. The idea is to save money while eliminating things that suck up your free time.
You don’t have to eliminate every single luxury in your life, but instead you should get rid of things that are stealing your time and driving up your stress level.
Bottom line: Less is more. If you can free up your time (and money) over the holidays, the amount of stress you experience will naturally go down. Simplify.
5. Embrace gratitude.
It is hard to be miserable, depressed, or filled with self pity when you are practicing gratitude on a regular basis. This is the perfect attitude adjustment for anyone who is struggling with dark thoughts around the holidays. Not to mention the fact that we have a near endless supply of cues around the holidays to remind us to be grateful for what we have in life.
When I personally recount my own path through addiction, it really is a miracle that I am here at all. I was trying to self destruct in so many ways, but for some reason my higher power had mercy on me and brought me to recovery. How easy it is to forget that though…..especially when we get wrapped up in the madness of the holiday season.
Bottom line: There is almost no emotional state that gratitude cannot overcome. Get in the habit of practicing gratitude on a daily basis, and it will be much easier to so when stressful situations arise.
I also want to say thank you to all of my readers here at the Spiritual River. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!