Winter Tips for Success with Holiday Goals

By: Michele King and Mackenzie Wilcox

Along with the cold weather, wintertime can bring a unique set of challenges for someone in recovery. Holiday parties, family gatherings, and even new recipes may involve alcohol or substance use or bring new temptations to use substances. These temptations may limit the activities you feel comfortable participating in or challenge the progress you’ve already made. However, denying yourself the opportunity to enjoy the winter season and your favorite activities does not have to be the only option for continuing to support your recovery—or beginning your recovery journey. Below we will discuss ways that you can enjoy this holiday season while still taking good care of yourself!

Snowy Night

Set Firm Boundaries

You know better than others which situations, events, or people are likely to challenge your recovery. Do not allow others to convince you to put yourself in situations that could cause you to stress or entice you to use. Remain confident in your ability to avoid harmful situations!

Seek Support from Trusted Friends/Family

Surround yourself with loved ones who are supportive of your recovery, they can provide encouragement if and when you are struggling, as well as provide a healthy social outlet. Spending time with others who support you in all aspects of life is important, and do not deny yourself the opportunity to have winter fun with friends and family! This way you can still participate in fun activities to celebrate the season in healthy ways!

Plan Your Own Activities

If you’re unsure that the events you’re invited to will be sober-friendly, it can be a  great chance to plan your own! By setting boundaries and controlling your environment, you can eliminate the likelihood of triggers. Invite friends to your place or a sober place out. Then you will be in charge of the food and drinks that are served, the games that are played, and the start and end time. If planning and hosting events is fun for you, this can be a great option! 

Create New Traditions

Celebrate your recovery, regardless of what that looks like! Affirm your growth and your self by starting new traditions that bring you joy and happiness. Maybe you want to go ice skating? Host a gathering in your home? Bake cookies for friends? Even with reading a new book or an old favorite, you can start a lifelong tradition anytime! Choose something that you enjoy doing and think about when you will look back and say, “I’ve been doing that every holiday season now for [5, 10, or maybe 50] years!”

Overcome The Winter Blues

The winter months themselves can be overwhelming or emotional for many people and especially during recovery. Exercising is a great way to keep your physical and mental health well during the winter season. Whether you create fun new ways to exercise at home, bundle up and go for a walk throughout your neighborhood, or go to a local gym, exercise is a useful outlet to keep your mind, body and spirit fresh during your recovery in the winter months. Making sure you are still getting Vitamin D throughout winter is important and can help keep your mood from “feeling blue” because sunlight is key for sharper thinking as well as emotional health. Opening blinds to allow sunlight in during the day or having lamps that simulate natural light, are both good ways to benefit from sunlight when it is cold out. By putting in the effort to help with the winter blues, you are setting yourself up for success during your recovery!

Here at the IQRR, we want your recovery process to be as supported and healthy as possible. We hope the tips we have provided will bring you more ease and comfort during the colder winter months and encourage you to set healthy goals. We want you to know that we are thinking of you and are always striving to provide the best tips and guidance for a successful recovery! We hope you enjoy the winter season and have fun while doing so!

Christmas Snow

References

1. Addiction Recovery in the Summer. Midwest Recovery Center. (2021, July 16). Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.midwestrecoverycenter.com/rehab-blog/addiction-recovery-in-the-summer/.

2. 12 Tips to Staying Clean and Sober During the Holidays - Executive Drug Rehab: Private Drug Rehab. Executive Drug Rehab | Private Drug Rehab. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://crossroadsantigua.org/12-tips-to-staying-clean-and-sober-during-the-holidays/.

3. 8 Ways to Cope with the Winter Blues. NW Health Blog. (2018, February 15). Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://wa-health.kaiserpermanente.org/tips-sad-coping-with-dark-days/