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12 Ideas to help stay sober during the holidays

Remaining sober can be especially hard during the holidays.  Family gatherings, holiday parties, and other social occasions can be very difficult for someone who is in early recovery.  Thoughts of past holiday occasions often bring up memories of celebratory drinking, drugs, or gambling.

Although it can be very hard to get used to the idea of a sober holiday season, especially when other people around you are seemingly having a great time celebrating by using substances or gambling, completing a stay at a treatment center is an accomplishment that you should be proud of.

Take this opportunity to celebrate not only the holidays, but also your new life of sobriety, which is something really worth celebrating.

If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season, please remember that you are not alone.  Help is only a phone call or meeting away!  Here are some helpful and practical tips to make staying sober easier:

1 Plan each and every day of your holiday season:
  Plan to spend the majority of your time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery.

2 Find a meeting in your area: Many groups have special meetings during the holidays to share their experience, strength and hope. Check the local papers for a meeting in your area.

3 Ask for support from family and friends: Those who are truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help you throughout the holidays.

4 Have a list of ten people you can call: Make a list and check it twice. Carry your cell phone and list of names at all times.

5 Don’t forget about regular exercise: Regular exercise is an essential component of any balanced recovery program.

6 Stay away from slippery places: There is absolutely no reason to ever check out your former favorite establishments.

7 Create new traditions to replace your old using patterns: Buy a new board game or take the family on a sleigh ride.  Use your imagination, be creative, & have fun.

8 Write out a daily gratitude list: The quickest cure to get you out of the holiday blues is by counting your blessings and being grateful for what you have every morning.

9 Volunteer your services to a charitable organization: There are many people in your community who are less fortunate than you. You will be helping not only the needy but yourself!

10 Write a letter to yourself – “How I stayed sober over the holidays:” The act of writing your ideas on paper is very powerful. Write down all the activities and events that will help you have healthy, happy, and sober holiday season.

11 Avoid H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely , Tired):  If you are hungry, get something to eat. If you are angry, talk to somebody about it.  If you are lonely, go to a meeting or call a friend.  If you are tired, get a good night’s sleep.

12 Live one day at a time and enjoy your sobriety: Stay in the moment and live one day at a time. Never mind about what happened or what could happen. Enjoy today. Live today. Celebrate your sobriety!

9 Reasons Helping Someone Else Can Help You

helping-others-post-it-noteWhen you are in recovery, you do a lot of work focusing on yourself and the ways you can improve your life and your world view to find more peace and happiness. It may seem that recovery is all about yourself, but helping others around you can actually serve to help you too. Here are nine reasons why.

1. You Can Cultivate Gratitude

A large part of maintaining a solid sense of peace and happiness is remaining aware of the things you are grateful for. Helping those less fortunate than you can help you remain aware of the things in your life that you have, rather than focusing on what you wish you had or what you have lost.

2. You Can Remind Yourself Of Important Lessons

As you move through recovery, you may be aware of the thoughts and principles that helped you get sober in the first place, but perhaps they have moved from the forefront of your conscious. Helping someone who is new to recovery can be a “refresher course” in important values and ideas.

3. It Increases Your Self Esteem

The better you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to use. Doing something good for another person helps increase your self worth, which does wonders for your mindset.

4. It Gives You the Opportunity to Meet Other Positive People

Volunteering for an organization has the wonderful added benefit of allowing you to interact with other people who are interested in becoming a positive force. Successful recovery often means staying surrounded by the right people, so this can be a great way to stay healthy!

5. You May Discover a New Interest

Becoming engaged in the world in any way can be a great way to find interests you didn’t even know you had. For example, perhaps by taking a friend in need on a hike in their favorite area, you’ll ignite your own passion for the outdoors.

6. It Helps You Stay Focused On What Is Important in Life

It is easy for all of us to become side tracked by the myriad of distractions and temptations we face every day. Helping others is a wonderful reminder that human connection is the most valuable thing we could ever hope to attain.

7. You Will Be Too Busy To Fall Into Bad Habits

For many people, boredom can become a trigger to use. Boredom is simply what happens when we are not using ourselves to our full potential. Helping others is a great way to spend time in an invigorating and useful way.

8. You Will Be Inspired

Often times helping someone else means getting to witness progress that they make. Watching first hand as someone makes steps towards progress is a wonderful way to remind yourself of the accomplishments you have the ability to make.

9. You Will Become a More Compassionate Person

Becoming exposed to someone else’s struggles can help you be more aware of what others are going through, making you more generally compassionate and empathetic.