The winter holidays can often be a stressful time, with friends, family and religious communities breaking with their normal schedules for special celebrations and parties. People sometimes take time for traveling and visiting each other, as well as spending more time in shopping, decorating, volunteering, and lots of other special and time-consuming tasks.
For someone in recovery from addiction, with a life characterized by the rhythm of regular meetings, it can be tempting to sometimes skip meetings so as to make time for more urgent seeming activities. However, the busyness of the holidays is no reason to take a break from perusing your recovery.
On the contrary, the unique stresses and challenges of the holiday season make working towards your recovery all the more important. Group support meetings can be a very important part of the recovery process, and so here are some of the reasons you should continue to take advantage of these supportive resources during your holiday celebrations.
The "celebration" of the holidays can create a sense the world is testing your hard-earned sobriety
Thanksgiving, New Years Day, and Christmas are often celebrated with large, festive gatherings that frequently have alcohol or drugs present. People around you may be drinking or using, and offering these substances to you.
Trying to work this temptation out on your own in the heat of the moment is going to be a hard and pressured moment. Instead, be prepared and work out an action plan ahead of time, something you can do or say to turn down the opportunity to relapse.
Working together with a group of people also facing these issues can be immeasurably helpful as you work to plan ahead and have a few lines ready. Going into a hard situation with an action plan will make the entire evening much less stressful.
There is also a possibility you may decide it's best to avoid alcohol and drug fueled social events altogether. Learning how to live a sober life is not only an issue of denial, but its discovering ways to live a full and fun life apart from the substance you feel powerless under.
A group of people perusing recovery together can creatively find ways to create new holiday traditions and find joy in each other. Sober holiday fun can enable you to remind yourself why recovery allows you to lead a better, healthier, empowered life.
The clash between expectations and reality, and working to renew strained relationships can bring up hard emotions
A lot of people go into cherished holiday celebrations with a lot of excitement and images of family bliss. However, the truth is, that being with family can often be a very stressful time. Many things can go wrong, and not line up with the ideals you have in your head for a "perfect holiday."
In addition, you may decide to travel away from your newly created sober environment, and go back to a "home" that may have a lot of unresolved tensions and unhelpful relational patterns. This can bring up some overwhelming and stressful feelings, from which drinking or drugs may be a familiar source of relief.
Being in relationship with people who understand what you are going through, and are able to offer advice, support, and encouragement can often make the difference between being able to stay strong in your recovery journey, and falling back into harmful old habits.
The support of people who value your recovery is an incredible encouragement that you should not give up on.
The decision to pursue recovery and sobriety is one you have to renew, one that you must live into one day at a time. Simply taking a break for a month and running on fumes from your last meeting is not an option!
You must be continually surrounding yourself with people who understand and support your recovery journey. As you grow in self-awareness and healing, the support of other people who know what you are going through can give you the strength to make it through.