Traditionally, the holidays are a social season, a time to get together with friends and family. But if you are newly sober, it could be too risky to participate in the usual festivities. You may also have redefined your social circle in recovery, and have few sober friends at this early juncture. If you find yourself flying solo this Christmastime, there are some great ways to enjoy the season sober and alone.
Why are the holidays harder when starting recovery?
Alcoholic beverages have always been a staple at holiday gatherings. As someone who is new in recovery, you have to think long and hard about whether it’s worth it to attend these festivities, or to simply enjoy a quiet holiday season alone.
But, alas, it can be difficult to be on your own at this time of year. When weighing out the risks of attending work parties, social gatherings or family get-togethers, it may be safest to just skip them altogether this first year of recovery. If so, you should prepare for the possibility of loneliness and boredom, both of which are triggers for relapse.
How to combat depression, loneliness and boredom during the holidays
Our emotional state has a powerful impact on us in early recovery, and the holiday season is notorious for stirring up emotions. In fact, depression rates tend to rise during December. Any losses you’ve suffered seem to be more painful at this time of year, and loneliness can be hard to bear.
For individuals in recovery, finding yourself alone at the holidays, whether by choice or not, can stoke feelings of loneliness, and boredom, too. To safeguard against these negative mood states and protect sobriety, you should:
- Attend extra meetings: To add extra layers of protection during the holidays, especially if you are struggling with loneliness or depression, add some extra meetings to your routine.
- Schedule an appointment with the therapist: It is helpful to work through the holiday blues with a therapist. Schedule weekly sessions if possible.
- Join a support group: There is safety in numbers, so check for a mental health support group where you can share your emotions with others. Your therapist can refer you to a group that will suit your needs.
- Stay connected to your sober support network: Even though the holiday season can be pretty hectic, make time to check in with your sponsor and others who make up your support network.
4 ways to enjoy the holidays sober and alone
In anticipation of a solo holiday season, why not make some special plans and enjoy yourself. Consider these ideas:
- Plan a getaway: If you know in advance that you will be alone at Christmas, it’s the perfect excuse to plan a getaway. Look for some interesting destinations within a six-hour radius of home so you don’t have to hassle the airports.
- Do a home makeover: Make a plan to dive into an all-consuming home improvement project, like ripping up carpet and putting down wood flooring. Too much? Check Pinterest for some inspiring bedroom makeover ideas.
- Pamper yourself: The local day spa will probably be closed, so plan a day to pamper yourself at home. Treat yourself to a face masque, a foot masque, an aromatherapy diffuser, bath salts and a deep condition for your hair.
- Volunteer your time: Use your time this Christmas season to do a good deed. Look for opportunities in the community to volunteer your time, such as helping out at a local food pantry or serving a holiday meal to homeless individuals.
Spending the holidays on your own may seem unfulfilling, but it can be an opportunity for growth in early recovery. Embrace solitude and have a joyful holiday season.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.