Many of the year-end holidays are associated with gift-giving, and every year most of us spend a lot of time (and often a lot of money) trying to find the perfect gift for each and every person on our shopping list.
Your Personal Sobriety Celebration Gift List
But if you are a person in recovery—especially if you are celebrating your first holiday season since regaining your sobriety—we would encourage you to also think about gifts you can give yourself to make sure the holidays do not upend your hard work.
Here are some things we suggest you put on your personal sobriety celebration gift list for yourself.
Staying Present Is a Great Present
Whether you have never tried mindfulness practice or have been engaged with it for some time, the holiday season is a great time to redouble your commitment to staying present. The holidays have a tendency to send our thoughts on a whirlwind tour of the past—and much of what we find there might not be pleasant (just ask Ebenezer Scrooge!) or helpful for someone who is trying to stay sober.
Mindfulness encourages us to be present in the current moment rather than ruminating on the past—or worrying about the future. That can be a perfect strategy for managing the many commitments and potential sense of chaos that can accompany the holidays. So consider giving yourself the gift of a book or an app (there are many free options to get your started) that can help you start—or deepen—your mindfulness practice.
Unwrap a Healthy Sleep Routine
With all of the activities that go along with the holidays, it is easy to find your sleep schedule in disarray. Getting quality rest is important for everyone—but it is especially important for those in recovery. So over the holidays, give yourself the gift of permission to leave a party early (or to skip a party entirely) in order to ensure you get the sleep you need.
Good sleep supports your physical and mental health—and supporting your overall well-being is an essential way to support your sobriety. If you aren’t already practicing good habits related to sleep, now is a great time to start. The benefits of sufficient rest simply cannot be overstated. Give yourself the gift of getting enough sleep, and protect your sobriety in the process.
Grab Onto the Gift of Gratitude
Of course, it is only natural to feel gratitude over the holiday season when you receive gifts or get to spend time with special people. But getting in the habit of identifying a few things you are grateful for each day is a wonderful gift to give yourself. One way to do this is to create a gratitude journal (you can go old school with a notebook and a pen or you can avail yourself of various online options). Each evening you can look back on your day and jot down three things that made you feel grateful or brought you joy.
Having this tangible record of things that make you feel good each day can be a great help when times are tough. When you are facing difficult moments and feel as though your sobriety may be in jeopardy, looking back on the entries in your gratitude journal can remind you why it is so much better to be sober. On those days, you will find yourself feeling grateful for your gratitude journal.
Give Yourself the Gift of Grace
The holidays have a way of putting a lot of pressure on us. We are constantly being reminded that this is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But truthfully, for many, many people it is not. And when you are in recovery, it is extremely important to avoid letting unrealistic expectations—whether they come from others or yourself—undermine your ability to set boundaries and protect your sobriety.
So give yourself some grace. You don’t have to feel like celebrating all (or any) of the time. You don’t have to buy the perfect gift or bake hundreds of cookies or attend parties or religious services or the middle school holiday spectacular. Choose what feels comfortable to you, and remember that it is okay to decide to opt out of something that simply is not working for you.
Sobriety Is Truly a Gift of Great Value
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, the best gift you can give yourself is a robust residential treatment program. At The Aviary Recovery Center, we offer detox and rehab services that are personalized to your specific needs, address any co-occurring mental health disorders, and provide ongoing support so you can begin your recovery journey with confidence.