If you’ve recently entered recovery, you may be experiencing a bit of anxiety about having to face the holidays this year. It’s true that holiday celebrations seem to test even the most committed individuals in recovery — in fact, at this time of year, memories of substance-soaked holidays from the past may bounce back into your consciousness, as if they have muscle memory. Worry not, as there are plenty of sober activities to integrate into this year’s holiday season.
Create a strategy for navigating the holidays in recovery
The secret to successfully navigating the holidays in early recovery is to be intentional about how you want to honor the season. The more thought that you put into this potentially trigger-heavy time of year, the stronger you will be.
It starts with having a strategy, so plan the upcoming holidays through the lens of your recovery. Think about which gatherings you can safely attend and which are best to skip altogether. Once you’ve decided what gathering to attend and avoid, take time to plan some fun sober traditions to make new memories.
10 sober holiday traditions to try this holiday season
With a little creativity and planning, you can enjoy the holiday season in recovery. Get yourself into a festive and positive mindset and explore some of these sober holiday activities:
- Go to a tree farm: Instead of picking up your tree at the local store, why not head to a tree farm and harvest your tree this year. Make selecting the holiday tree a family outing, and then plan on decorating it together later.
- Host an open house: Invite your friends and neighbors to stop by during a window of several hours. Have a holiday movie marathon playing throughout the open house hours, so guests will be inclined to hang out for a while.
- Plan a nature hike: Nature provides an amazing array of beauty, even in the winter. Invite some friends and family members to join you for a nature hike and picnic in your local area, or travel to a beautiful destination.
- Enjoy live entertainment: There is nothing like attending a live holiday performance. Look for The Nutcracker ballet or local theater productions of A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life.
- Plan a scavenger hunt: At the next holiday gathering, get the whole family involved with a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. Create teams and give each team their list, then set off to find the treasures. Happy hunting!
- Participate in a 5k or 10k: Many cities host special races during December (with names like Reindeer Dash and Rudolph Run, for example). If you’re in decent shape, grab a friend and register for one of these running events.
- Get a group of crafters together: If you already enjoy a crafting hobby, or are possibly curious about learning a new one, invite some friends over to make jewelry, crochet, throw pottery or paint using a holiday theme.
- Go ice skating: What is more holiday-esque than ice skating? If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor rink nearby, bundle up and meet some friends to skate under the stars to holiday tunes.
- Have a bake-off: Plan a party where everyone brings special holiday baked goods to enter into the contest. If you don’t want to actually judge the yummy entries, just make it a free-for-all and serve some festive coffees and teas, too.
- Rent a cabin: Plan a weekend in the country, the mountains or the lake this holiday season. Find a cozy cabin to rent and some fun winter activities in the area to partake in.
With so many great sober holiday traditions to try out, the only downside is not being able to squeeze them all in. That’s okay, as there is always next year.
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.