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We understand that the festive season can be difficult for those in recovery. This year, as we head towards a Christmas with COVID-19 restrictions in place, you may be feeling even more apprehensive about how you will navigate through the coming weeks.

We have put together tips and advice to help you stay well and protect your recovery during this year’s holidays:

Keep busy

Christmas is a time when people’s days are more flexible, as people take time off work, schools close and shops shut. We would recommend putting together a Christmas plan that takes into consideration the weeks after Christmas Day so that you continue to have routine and structure in place.

Within your plan, write down all the activities that you have coming up, including all your recovery activities, which may be virtual meetings, phone calls, working with your sponsor or ongoing therapy sessions. 

Include self-care and activities that you enjoy or find relaxing too. Also, book in time for exercise and getting outdoors, which can be great mood boosters.

Plan ahead and take responsibility

If you are planning to spend time with family and friends in line with government guidelines, make a list of what you need to do in order to stay safe. This may include:

  • Finding out where you are going, what it will be like and who will be there
  • Taking your own non-alcoholic beverages with you
  • Driving your car or taking taxi phone numbers
  • Letting your host know you may need to leave early
  • Booking in time before and after the event to speak to a sober friend or your sponsor
  • Planning how you will say no to plans if you need to, which is perfectly acceptable to do
  • Organising an ‘exit strategy’ that you can use if you start to feel uncomfortable

If you book something into your plan and then don’t feel comfortable going, we understand that it can be difficult to cancel, as you may feel like you’re letting people down. However, remember that you don’t have to go anywhere that could risk your recovery, especially if there are alcohol or drugs present.

Communicate and don’t isolate yourself

Christmas can be a scary time when you are in recovery, but don’t isolate yourself from the family and friends who care about you.

Staying connected not only gives you an opportunity to enjoy the festive season, but also means that you can share any worries and ask for help if you need to.

As seeing people is more difficult this year, make good use of the technology available to you:

  • Organise video catch-ups with the people you would usually see
  • Get festive games and quizzes in the diary with different groups
  • Set up a virtual viewing party of a Christmas film
  • Open cards and gifts with one another on screen

Also, make a list of ten people you can call, including your sponsor if you have one. Keep this list with you at all times and call at least one person a day.

Be kind to yourself

Christmas can often bring up difficult memories and emotions for people in recovery. The stress and pressure of the festive season can also leave people feeling incredibly overwhelmed and anxious

Don’t think that you are failing if you feel like this. Remember that Christmas Day is ‘just another day’ in the whole scheme of things.

Try to accept that Christmas is a stressful time too, and remind yourself that it is particularly difficult for people in recovery. Make sure you take good care of yourself over the holidays:

  • Make use of the strategies and skills you have developed during your recovery
  • Access the support resources and networks that you have
  • Set healthy boundaries and say no to anything you can’t fit on your plate
  • Listen to your own needs. Get something to eat when you’re hungry. Reach out when you’re angry. Go to a Zoom meeting or call a peer if you feel lonely. Get a good night’s sleep if you’re tired

Also, think about introducing new positive festive traditions as you leave behind how you used to be over the holidays. Research activities that are still available given COVID-19 restrictions, whether that is going to a drive-in to watch a Christmas movie, buying a new (virtual) game for the family or doing a driving tour of festive lights.

Reflect on your achievements 

Christmas and the New Year is often a time for reflection. 

Take this as an opportunity to celebrate not only the holidays, but also your life of sobriety, which is something really worth being proud of and celebrating.

Enjoy each day and remember that the best gift you can give to yourself and the people who love you this Christmas is to spend the festive period clean and sober.

For more details please call 023 8046 4721 or click here to book a FREE CONFIDENTIAL ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. Alternatively, you can enquire online and one of our team will get back to you via your preferred contact method.  

COVID-19 Update

We continue to accept admissions into our treatment programmes but are adopting screening protocols through the pre-admission process. In order to protect our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19, we have temporarily suspended family visits to those within our services. All patients will be supported to speak to their family over the phone and via video calls wherever possible.

This blog was reviewed by Sarina Wheatman, (Emotional Freedom Technique Master Practitioner (EFT), Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) NCAC), Addiction Treatment Programme Manager at Manor Clinic.

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