Supporting recovery during the holidays and in a pandemic

It can be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can also present challenges for people in recovery. This year may be more difficult as many of us are separated from family and friends due to COVID-19.

If you or someone you love is working toward or maintaining recovery, there are ways to support and reinforce recovery and make this time of year feel easier.

  • Connect with your support systems. Identify the people who can support you and will be available to check in with you if you need them. This is especially important this year when many are feeling isolated and alone. This could be a quick text, a phone call, or a video call. It may also be helpful to have meeting schedules ready in case of urges or cravings. You can find a link to a list of online and phone meetings here. If you have a loved one in recovery, reach out to them to check in or just chat.
  • Manage expectations. Recovery is a process that involves change; holding on to the way things used to be can be stressful and disappointing. With all the other things that have changed this year, it may feel harder. Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that this has been a difficult year. Know that it’s normal and okay for you to feel sad or disappointed. 
  • Take time for yourself. There may be fewer holiday get-togethers with large groups this year, but it can still feel hectic. When you need a break, take one. You might like to listen to your favorite music, read a book, or take a walk – whatever grounds you.

Below is some more information that can help you put together a plan to support your recovery during the holiday season. 

Recovery and the holidays: 
Preparing for Holiday Challenges to Addiction Recovery (SMART Recovery) 
Managing Expectations (American Psychological Association) (Recovery Research Institute) 

COVID-19 and the holidays: 
Preparing for the Holidays During COVID-19 (Mental Health America) 
Stress, depression, and the holidays: Tips for coping (Mayo Clinic) 
How to Find Joy in Troubled Times (Today)