Being in recovery is a challenge, especially around the holidays. But there are plenty of coping strategies to include in your game plan for holiday joy. Rewarding yourself for your hard work in getting and staying sober is one of the most fun holiday sobriety strategies. Here are some ideas for turning the 12 days of Christmas into 12 days of sober gifts of empowerment.
Take a class.
Nurture your spirit and your curiosity by taking an adult education class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to paint or cook. Perhaps an improvisational comedy class would be fun. Pick something that will inspire you and allow you to also have a fun, playful time.
Acquire an inspiring work of art.
Buy a print of your favorite master painting from a museum or any image that lifts your spirits. It may be a poster of someone who is the kind of person you aspire to be or a character whose values you admire, like Wonder Woman or Superman. Maybe it’s the scene that represents a happy place for you, like the beach or horses running free. Place it on a wall in front of a comfortable chair and meditate on it each morning. A beautiful image can help you start each morning feeling hopeful and filled with possibilities.
Buy a new journal.
Studies show that writing your story and expressing feelings can be liberating and cathartic. It’s a way to improve your mastery over difficult emotions and to make meaning of the journey you’ve been on. Use it as creative therapy, to chart feelings and experiences. Also, goal and intention lists can be motivating. You can track progress every day, checking things off as you go along. Include items like “go to a meeting” or “call my sponsor” on the list.
Select a theme song.
Is there a song that makes you feel confident and strong? Designate it as your personal empowerment song and play it to bolster your courage and lift your spirits. Music is a powerful tool for regulating emotions and helping you feel positive. Choose anything from the theme from “Rocky” to a song by your favorite performer. Play it often and imagine it playing anytime you need to bolster your courage.
Get a new handheld mirror.
When you became sober, you got a fresh start, a new chance. This includes a chance to see yourself in a new light and love yourself in a new way. If you practice looking into your own eyes each day, it can help you connect to your own soul. Think positive thoughts: I am sober. I am a good person. I am beautiful inside. I forgive myself. I deserve love. If you are comfortable, speak out words of encouragement. Keep the mirror as a symbol of seeing yourself in a new way. Gaze into your eyes and smile every chance you get.
Surround yourself with inspirational plaques and sayings.
Words have power to affect your brain, so make your words positive. Buy lovely wooden or framed plaques or write favorite phrases on post-it notes and place them around you to inspire you every day, such as:
- “Serenity, courage, wisdom”
- “I believe in you. Stay strong.”
- “You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.”
- “Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”
Create a Happiness Jar.
Buy a round jar with a lid and label it, “My Happiness Jar.” Play your theme music to get in a positive mood. Take a small piece of paper and sit down to reflect on something that made you happy — coffee with new sober friends, for example. Write it down and drop it in the jar. Take a moment each day to add a new thing that made you happy. Watch it fill with happy, positive experiences. Keep the jar somewhere you can see it. If you feel down, pick a random piece of paper from this recovery gift jar and remember a happier time.
Personal treasure map.
Get a poster board and glue sticks. Then cut photos from magazines that illustrate the person you want to be and that represents where you want to go in your sober life. What would life be like if you were the hero of your own life? A new apartment, being responsible, and having a good relationships — represent all those things on your map by selecting empowering images of confident, happy people doing what you want to do and places you want to be. And also paste in inspiring phrases.
Meditation and prayer beads.
Find a necklace or bracelet you love that is made of beads designated for meditative or healing use. They can be wood, semi-precious stones, seeds or glass beads, and are available in necklace or bracelet form. Many cultures, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, use necklaces with 108 mala beads. In Catholicism, there is the rosary. These beads have also been shown to be helpful in psychotherapy. They are such a part of American culture that you can find a prayer bracelet in department stores and online. You can follow the traditional use of touching each bead to help you keep track of repetitions of prayers or a mantra, or just hold them in your hand. Play a piece of music that opens your heart.
Get a dreamcatcher.
This object of Native American origin is believed to keep out nightmares and let only good dreams enter the mind of the sleeper. It’s made of a round hoop, covered in material and fashioned to look like a net or a spider’s web, with feathers and beads dangling from the bottom. Since it’s considered a form of sacred protection, you can designate it to help keep your mind free of negativity. Find one that is beautiful and makes you feel hopeful. Position it over your bed.
Keep a gratitude journal.
One of the most important coping strategies is to continue to acknowledge your accomplishments along the way. The power of gratitude is not just in making the list but in taking the time at the end of each day to make note of at least five things you are grateful for: I didn’t drink, I made the 12-noon meeting, my boss gave me a great assignment, etc. If ever in doubt, look back on your entries and remember, you can do this!
There was a time when you were lost to addiction and now you are sober. You will be challenged, and tested, because that’s what life is about. Get a compass and engrave your date of sobriety on the back, or get a small plastic one. Carry it with you always as a symbol that you will always find your way back to yourself and never be lost again.
May these holiday sobriety strategies and recovery gifts help you have a wonderful and spirited holiday.