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How to Stay Strong in Your Recovery During the Holiday Season

Twinkling lights, delightful aromas, and joyous celebrations–it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yet for some, it can be the most stressful time—especially if you’re in recovery. Not to mention, navigating the holiday season mid-pandemic has introduced new uncertainty and stressors to the season of cheer. Though challenging, this season can be made more bearable with a little planning, some support, and a lot of self-care. Here are some tips to stay on track with your recovery and get through the holidays this year with grace:

Make the time for meetings

The world has changed a lot in the past year, specifically the world of recovery. Meetings are available online 24/7 around the world and are only a call or zoom meeting away. If this time of year is typically stressful for you, block out time to attend extra meetings to get the support you need to continue to nurture your recovery. A helpful tip is to attend a meeting prior to your festivities/gathering (even if your family gatherings are virtual!)—many in recovery find this to be a great way to center yourself and calm your anxieties before speaking to family members and friends.

Keep in touch

It’s crucial that you stay as connected as possible with your recovery network during the holiday season. It may be easy to postpone a phone call because you’re busy or you may assume someone else is too busy to hear from you but that’s what they are there for—to support you in times of need. Pick up the phone and call your sponsor or a friend from your fellowship. Remember to reach out before things get hectic, and don’t try to do things alone.

Try to keep your routine

Routines are very important if you’re in recovery. Though gatherings may look different this year, the pressure of shopping, cooking, and giving gifts can still pull you away from your sense of normalcy. You should view the routines that you have as your sacred time, and treat them as such. Perhaps your morning routine involves your daily readings, meditating, or journaling. To the best of your ability, maintain consistency in these areas daily, regardless of travelling or events. Maintaining your “normal” motions can help avoid triggering feelings or stressors.

Remember, it is OK to say no

We say this in recovery often, but boundaries are important—and it is completely okay to say “no” to something that is going to jeopardize your sobriety. Whether the holiday gathering is in-person, or virtual, do an evaluation of who is attending and what type of activities are planned.  Then, determine if going will threaten your recovery in any way. If so, don’t feel bad. Just politely thank the host and decline the invitation. People who are in your corner for recovery will understand.

Additional Resources

Investing time to prepare for self–care allows you to think of the holiday season in a different way and marks the start of a new tradition in your life of recovery. This year for many has been tough, and the holidays are no exception. Don’t succumb to feelings of stress, or even isolation. Here are some additional resources for those in recovery this holiday season:

For AA meetings near you, by state

For NA meetings near you, by state

Sober podcasts for long drives or to combat feelings of boredom


NA Speakers on Youtube

AA Speakers on Youtube