It’s been a politically-charged, pandemic-infused doozy of a year. Throw in the holiday season and, for many of us in recovery, it’s a pure, unadulterated recipe for disaster. But it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re dreading being surrounded by family and, God-forbid, massive amounts of booze, or on the flip side, if your family is practicing social distancing and you’re worried about feeling lonely, there are ways to combat these feelings. And, if you’re in recovery, you’ve probably got access to additional tools. Use ‘em! 

Here are six ways to combat those holiday blues in recovery:

  1. Pick up the phone. Sometimes, if and when the holiday season blues hit hard, it can be difficult to find the motivation to do anything. Your phone, however, weighs about 4 ounces –– pick it up and call a friend in recovery! Share how you’re feeling and maybe see if they want to grab a coffee or come over and cheer you up. That’s what friends are for, particularly those in recovery. They’re your lifeline. Take advantage. 
  2. Volunteer. Whether it’s at a local animal shelter, a food bank, or a halfway house, there are always opportunities to be of service. Service work is a great way to get out of your own head while doing something positive. Opportunities might be more limited this year due to social distancing restrictions, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be of service. Do you have elderly neighbors that need help with their grocery shopping because they’re worried about being around others? Why not call them up and offer a helping hand? Have them leave the grocery money in the mailbox and you can leave the groceries at their front doorstep. Or volunteer at an addiction or suicide helpline if you’re up for it. These opportunities are available as well, and you could literally be saving lives (while saving your own). 
  3. Bake cookies. Seriously. While it may not sound like a solution to the world’s woes at the moment, baking can be surprisingly therapeutic if that’s your jam. Throw on some holiday tunes and get into a festive spirit, then crank up the oven and cook up your favorite recipe. Not a baker? No problem! Get yourself some pre-made cookie dough –– easy! Don’t forget to sneak in a few bites of dough, too. That’s the best part. Oh, and your house will smell amazing. You’ll also (hopefully) snap out of your funk and, at the end of it all, you’ll have cookies for yourself and, of course, to share with friends. 
  4. Hit a recovery meeting. If you’re a member of a recovery fellowship like NA, AA, or SMART Recovery, it might be a good time to ramp up your meeting attendance. The holidays are notoriously emotional and triggering times for people in recovery, so you’ll likely find the rooms pretty full. It’s a great way to connect with others who are going through similar stuff and to share in a safe space. No in-person meetings in your area at the moment? Not a problem. Sites like have online twelve-step meetings going worldwide, 24/7. You can also check your local online meeting directory to find out if any of your regular meetings are being hosted on Zoom.
  5. Host a sober dinner party. The holidays are a popular time for parties in general, particularly booze-fueled gatherings. While some of us who’ve been in recovery for a while MIGHT be okay around a bunch of drunk people, others might not. And, at the end of the day, regardless of how we feel about being around people who are drinking, it’s still more fun to be around people we share our sobriety in common with. So, why not organize a sober gathering? Make it a potluck so you don’t have to worry about much prep, and get a group of your best sober mates together for a holiday-themed dinner. 
  6. Have an exit strategy. If you do happen to be going to a party where people are drinking, have an escape plan. This doesn’t mean you should lie, but if you’re not ready to tell the host or other guests about your recovery and you start to feel uncomfortable, decide in advance how you’d like to leave and what you want to tell the host if there’s a need to say goodbye. At the end of the day, of course, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your recovery is yours alone and it doesn’t need to be justified, but some of us don’t always feel comfortable leaving a gathering without an explanation and that’s okay, too. Just make sure you give it some thought in advance so you don’t end up sticking around because you feel obligated. 

Remember, many people in recovery have a hard time during the holidays, so you’re certainly not alone. One of the best things you can do through it all is to stay connected. Whether that means going to more meetings, picking up the phone more frequently, or all of the above. The most important thing of all is your recovery, and the beauty of it all is that you have tools you can access so that you don’t slip into a funk. 

Kembali Recovery Center is here for you

If you or someone you love is struggling to get or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. We’re back open now while carefully following social distancing and health protocols. Contact us today to find out about our next intake. Remember, you never have to do this alone.

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