10 Sober Ideas For Creating Meaningful Traditions
While the holidays are a source of joy and excitement for many, for those in recovery, it can feel quite the opposite. So, how do I manage the holidays in recovery? Here’s 10 sober ideas for creating meaningful traditions.
With the holiday season approaching, you may feel more unsettled than usual as you think about potential triggers, mental health struggles, and the overindulgence that comes with the season.
For years the holidays were centered around drugs or alcohol, so it can feel overwhelming to know how or where to begin.
Take heart in knowing that you now have the opportunity to start from scratch. Being in recovery means you have a clean slate to start new, meaningful traditions with family or friends.
So, let’s talk about how to navigate the holiday season as an individual in recovery, and a few ideas to help spark your inspiration.
Taking Care of Yourself During The Holidays:
If you’re in active recovery, you’re already well aware of the challenges that can be thrown your way. Most holidays involve alcohol in one way or another, so taking care of yourself during this season is vital.
Here are a few ways you can make this holiday season a little easier:
If you’re new to sobriety, it may not be in your best interest to simply “wing it”. Ask yourself a few proactive questions to ensure you’re not caught off guard:
- What is my desired outcome for this holiday season?
- How am I going to handle my triggers?
- Who can I trust at a social gathering to hold me accountable?
If you have a sponsor, now is a great time to connect with them about your worries. Every person in sobriety struggles around the holidays to some extent. Lean on those who have walked in your shoes so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
Identify Your Triggers:
No, alcohol or drugs may not be the only trigger you come across during the holidays. For example, your emotional and mental state during the holidays can make you feel weaker than normal.
A few common triggers include:
- Interactions with certain family members (people)
- Unexpected schedule changes
- Financial pressures
- Certain locations (places)
- Other objects such as: syringes, tinfoil, or bottle openers (things)
Keep in mind, you may not always know exactly what triggers you have until you’re confronted with them. If you have a therapist or close friend or family member, talk with them – they may be able to pinpoint something you aren’t able to see.
Make a Plan To Say ‘No’:
Create a boundary, and stick to it. Bring a non-alcoholic beverage to sip on so others won’t offer you a drink. While some people choose to hide their reasons, it’s always better to maintain honesty.
A few ways to respond may be:
- “I don’t drink”.
- “I’m not drinking anymore”.
- “I’m in recovery”.
Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation if they attempt to push you further. Alcohol is often the only substance people feel so compelled to have to explain not using. Set your boundaries as you feel comfortable.
Starting New, Meaningful Holiday Traditions In Recovery:
Recovery can be a rocky road and the holiday seasons are sure to bring about old memories of substance use in the past. While you might not feel as cheery and bright as in previous years, your holidays are by no means doomed for gloom!
Making the choice to create fun, wholesome, new holiday traditions can help you cultivate the healthy life you are striving to build. Establishing traditions can not only give you something to look forward to, but it can also serve as a positive experience among feelings of stress and worry.
So, let’s go over a few sober holiday traditions to try this year:
- Host a Movie Marathon: When was the last time you let yourself enjoy movies you once loved as a kid? Host a Christmas movie marathon with your closest friends or family members. Have each person write down their favorite childhood movie and draw from a hat! You could even make this a weekly event leading up to the holidays.
- Schedule a Game Night: Board games are incredibly underrated. Who doesn’t love a good competitive game of Clue? Or get ruthless with UNO. You can invite family and friends, or make it a night specifically for companions in recovery. Each person can bring their own favorite game to share!
- Start Baking: Baking cookies, granola bars, pies, and other holiday treats have been around for ages. It’s a fun, holiday-centered tradition that doesn’t require any substances to enjoy. The plus side? Baking can be done as an individual activity for days you don’t feel like socializing, or as a group effort.
- Hit The Rink: When’s the last time you laced your skates up and took to the rink? Probably childhood. Whether it’s a community ice rink or wooden floored skate park, skating is a wonderful way to not only get your body moving but enjoy active time.
- Decorate Gingerbread Houses: Dedicate an afternoon (or evening) to icing those windows, and plopping gumdrops on your front lawn. Gingerbread house decorating is the equivalent of pumpkin carving during Halloween. You may just be surprised at what architectural skills you have! Entice some sober friends to decorate along with you with peppermint lattes or a new coffee
- Try something new. Ever made Turkish Coffee on the stove top? Ever made your own handmade pasta (its not hard) or peppermint bark? Or maybe learn to roll your own spring rolls?
- Not a foodie? No, problem – go different. The US Olympian, Tom Daley has a new book out on knitting – something he learned to do to handle boredom and it became a sort of meditation. Go to a pottery house and paint your own. Drop an language app onto your phone and spend 30 minutes a day on it or YouTube how to play the uke or guitar.
- Attend a Light Tour: Many cities around the country have Holiday walk-through light tours. If yours doesn’t, make it a tradition to walk or drive through the neighborhoods that go all out. From string lights to Santa Claus, to the Grinch, the decorations are endless! It’s a fun way to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
- Caroling is a waning tradition but singing with friends is a great booster for mood and gets the mirth pumping. Print off some easy sing-along sheets from online, grab your coffee and a few of friends.
- If you’re stuck – go early to a meeting. Open the door for people as they arrive. Smile, shake hands and greet them – tell them you are glad they came and you hope they keep coming. Not feeling social? Set up chairs, make coffee or bring some cookies to put out. When in doubt – simple acts of service are a good tradition any time of the year.
Holidays In Recovery Are a Time To Start New:
Holidays aren’t exactly avoidable. They come and go no matter what. If you’re in recovery, holidays can be particularly triggering. Be proactive about your approach, create a plan and identify your triggers so you feel both empowered, and safe.
Sobriety means creating a new life for yourself. The holidays make look different this year, but creating new, healthy traditions can become an anchor in your journey.
Recovery gives you an opportunity to make the holiday season what you’ve always wanted it to be.
Whatever you do, I wish you a healthy and happy holidays –
Buon Natale’ !