Christmas time can be a daunting period in recovery. Especially if it’s your first.
A time full of celebrations, parties and festive fun can offer various challenges for your recovery and can feel like a minefield of opportunities for relapse.
Although you may feel like avoiding Christmas altogether, it’s important for you to socialise, spend time with loved ones and continue to build strong, healthy relationships to aid your recovery.
So how do you keep your recovery on track while still making the most of the holidays?
By putting certain measures in place and asking for support from those around you – you can still have a Christmas packed with laughter and love while keeping your recovery intact.
Here are some of our top tips for navigating the Christmas holidays in recovery:
The holidays are full of lazy days, late nights and loose schedules, but it’s important to keep a normal structure to your day.
The more you let your usual structure slide, the more susceptible you are to making a decision that puts everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve at risk. Try to stick to your normal daily routines wherever possible and make sure those around you understand why this is important for you.
Get up for breakfast at the same time you usually do. Make time for your midday walk as often as possible. Head up to bed for your 30-minute bedtime read every night. The more you can maintain a normal structure to your day, the easier staying on track during the holidays will be.
Self-care, meditation and mindfulness are paramount to keeping a clear head and your feet firmly on the ground at Christmas. With all the food, fun and distractions – it can be difficult to take some time out for you each day.
Setting alarms every night to remind you to take some you-time allows you to plan your self-care around your plans for the following day. Whether that’s a walk in nature before visiting the in-laws, some breathing exercises after lunch or a 10-minute meditation to recentre your mind when you first wake up.
Whatever helps you stay clear-headed, make time for it regularly.
Saying no can be challenging at times, especially during the holidays. But it’s necessary if something is likely to endanger your sobriety.
Staying in one night when you’re feeling overwhelmed or leaving that party early is ok. Some people might not understand addiction and how difficult it can be to control. Only you know what’s best for you in any given situation, so do what you feel is best for your recovery, regardless of how it might make others feel.
One missed party isn’t going to ruin a friendship, but being in an environment you don’t feel comfortable in because of peer pressure can endanger your recovery. So remember to put yourself first.
There’s strength in numbers, and it’s important to be an active part of a recovery community at Christmas time.
Connection, support and shared experience will help you stay on track when the going gets tough, providing you advice and encouragement if and when you need it.
It’s easy to let communication with your network slide when you’re busy digging into your turkey and mince pies, but it’s important to make a consistent effort to show up. Even during the holidays. Not just for your own recovery, but also to support others who might need support from you when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes, things can get a bit too much. Whether it’s a busy party or a family conflict – it’s ok to leave events early.
It helps to have a pre-planned exit strategy in place with someone in your circle. Align beforehand on what you’ll do if a situation arises and make sure they’re on hand in case you need them. Preparing an exit strategy helps you avoid going into panic mode and making any rash decisions.
Having the self-awareness and self-control to remove yourself from a situation shows just how far you’ve come on your journey to recovery, so you do need to remove yourself from a situation – be proud of yourself for doing the right thing.
Christmas is a time of traditions. But when you’re in recovery, some traditions might not be the most responsible traditions to take part in. However, that doesn’t mean you miss out on the fun. Far from it.
Create new, more positive traditions to carry forward for more Christmases in recovery to come. They can be either sentimental or just something silly for the kids to join in with. From a hot chocolate by the fire on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day morning walk, to burning a letter to your old self on Christmas night as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
Create new traditions that help you join in on the holiday fun and remind you of why you’ve made this commitment to yourself when the holidays roll around.
If someone close to you is in recovery, whether they’ve been in recovery 10 years or 10 months, they can still struggle at Christmas time. There are many ways you can offer support and help them stay positive throughout the holidays. Such as:
People in recovery need support from friends and loved ones. If you have the privilege of being able to be that support for someone this Christmas – make sure you’re being the support they need.
Our purpose here at Delamere is to help people free themselves from addiction and grow beyond what they thought possible for themselves. Whether you’ve been a guest at Delamere or not, we’re still here to help if you need it this Christmas.
Our care team is on hand 24/7 to offer help, support and advice should you start to feel overwhelmed. Just call 0330 111 2015 and we’ll be right here ready to listen and help as best we can.
Delamere is also open all year round to help you begin your journey to recovery.
With Christmas being such a trigger-filled time, joining a residential rehab programme over the holidays can be a great way to avoid any big blowouts and focus on a more positive 2022.
Set in a discreet location in the heart of the Cheshire countryside with a 24/7 support team, luxury en suite accommodation, on-site gym, one-to-one therapy sessions and more – we’ve got everything you need to leave your addiction behind this year.
You can learn more about our approach to recovery here and our residential rehabilitation programmes here.
Whatever you have planned this Christmas and wherever you are in your recovery journey, we wish you a Christmas filled with joy, laughter and love.
Mike crafted our innovative and person centred approach to addiction treatment. Mike’s experience in the addiction treatment sector encompasses his work as a nurse, psychotherapist and Chief Executive.
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