Like your sobriety date, the holiday season marks important milestones on the calendar. It’s a time of year filled with memories and the anticipation of time spent with family and friends. Whether it is the first season of sobriety or many years into recovery, the holidays are a time of year that heightens feelings of vulnerability, stress, and loneliness. So how do you maintain your sobriety and survive the holidays? Maintaining sobriety requires tapping into the recovery toolkit and support network to ensure safe passage through this challenging time of the year.

Schedule and Structure

One day at a time becomes one hour at a time during the holidays. If you are traveling, you’ll be away from your support system and sober routines. Make sure to have a proactive sober strategy in place. Find meetings in your anticipated destination and when attending holiday festivities, bookend the event with pre and post phone calls to your sponsor or counselor. Seek out sober friends and bring one with you to events as a guest. Feel empowered by building time limitations into your schedule so you can have a healthy escape plan.

Relapse prevention includes having an awareness of the people, places, and things that could trigger trouble. Having a structured schedule and a strategy for sobriety means you have a plan for your holiday recovery process. The plan provides the freedom to enjoy making new memories and celebrating milestones.

Stay Connected

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Making excuses for not maintaining your recovery plan somehow becomes easier. Yet, there’s no better time to stay on track and stay connected. A smartphone, tablet, or computer are essentials in your recovery toolkit, providing ways to safely stay connected to peers in recovery. Consider a break from traditional social media and instead, spend time watching motivational content and taking short quizzes to strengthen coping skills. Safe support is critical every day and even more so during the holidays.

Be of Service

The holidays are a time for giving back. It’s a great way to show your gratitude and create new memories filled with joy. Connect with a local charity and be of service. It’s a great way to strengthen your recovery and pay it forward. Tap into your peer network and ask their advice on volunteer opportunities and, while you’re at it, ask them to join you. Remember, there’s safety in numbers.

Practice Self-Care

Why not celebrate your recovery by taking the time to practice self-care? Keeping your schedule means making the time for all the things that keep you healthy, from workouts to meetings, to enjoying your favorite holiday movie. Get plenty of rest and nourish your well-being; The better you feel, the stronger you will be emotionally. Explore ways to keep your quiet time (at home or on the road) and tap into music, video or any other medium that helps you quiet your mind. Stay in touch with your sponsor and schedule regular check-ins. Remember, they’ve been through their share of holidays, too. Being mindful helps reduce the stress of the season, keeps your expectations in check, and helps you move past cravings. Practicing self-care lets you fully experience the peace, love, and freedom to enjoy family, friends and make new, healthy holiday memories.

The Reason for the Season

Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving: healthy recovery and lasting sobriety. The holidays bring a sense of nostalgia and can create vulnerabilities leading back to old ways of thinking. Safeguard yourself during the holiday season and treat each day like you do any other, stay active in your recovery and keep your sobriety toolkit and support network close. An ounce of prevention can support long-term recovery.