I spent my first holiday in recovery in rehab. The structure of living in a recovery facility made it simple to stay sober. (Notice, I didn’t say “easy.”) I was surrounded by people in recovery. I went to meetings 2-3 times a day. I was fed at regular times. I had a bedtime and a time to get up for breakfast. I did things I was told to, such as call people for support and help clean up after dinner. All of it simple. I rarely had to think about what to do next. The next right thing was always just the next thing on the schedule.
What about now? There is so much to do and so much craziness to navigate in the real world. How do we know what the next right thing is?
Keep It Simple
My advice is to keep it just as simple and basic as life in rehab. Like me, you may not be working full time right now so filling in those gaps is especially important. Before the holidays get super crazy, let’s take some time to create a list of the things we learned early in recovery for the times between work, meetings, eating and sleeping when we may be feeling a little bit squirrelly and unsure of what to do with ourselves.
Here is a list of some of the things that I did early on and still do when the holidays come around:
Set Meetings So You Don’t Forget Meetings
I find meetings for every day of the week, put them in my phone calendar and set reminders for them. (Nowadays, I add all the Zoom info so I don’t have to look it up when it’s time for the meeting.) The Huron Valley Area Intergroup (HVAI) Meeting Locator is a good place to start. I look for schedules for the Alkathons hosted by the Washtenaw Alano Club, plan to attend, and even chair for a block of time. These two resources were HUGE for me in early recovery.
Get Phone Lists and Make Phone Lists
I ask for the current phone lists from the meetings I attend. Calling sober folks is always a good idea, and even more so during the holidays. It could be that the person on the other end of the line needs just as much support as I do. I can start calling people from the lists right now, so it’s not so hard when I really need to talk to someone. While I’m at it, I make a list of my go-to supports and their phone numbers and have it with me all the time, I put it in the notes app of my phone and tape a copy to my fridge. In the past, this has been a great physical reminder that I’m not doing this alone!
Recover Your Literature
I dig out all those recovery books I haven’t looked at in forever and stack them right by my comfy chair so I can flip through one when I’m tired of looking at Facebook. The AA Grapevine is a great resource if you want some new reading.
Journal, Journal, Journal
When was the last time you journaled? I have several journals that my sponsor has given me over the years. I love buying new ones even if I don’t like writing in them all the time. I have a set of special glittery colored pens that I keep next to my journal so whenever I feel frustrated or particularly emotional (or even have a particularly good moment!) I can just grab a pen and start writing. If you are not into office supplies the same way I am, what are some ways you can motivate yourself to journal? There are some great journaling apps out there. Or maybe quick video logs on your phone? My journal is also a great place for my daily gratitude list which was foundational in early sobriety. Not feeling so grateful these days? Check out this list of things we can all be grateful for from one of our past blogs.
Call Your Sponsor
I’ll be honest, when I’m working 40-60 hours a week. I sometimes go a couple days at a time without calling my sponsor. Tch, tch, tch, I know. Since I’ve been off work, she hears from me at least once a day. And now that the holidays are coming up she’ll be hearing from me even more often than that. Get ready, Barb!
Eat, Pray, Meditate
Another thing that I amp up during the holidays is my meditation and prayer practice. I have tons of time right now so there is no reason not to. It is still super hard to make myself sit down and do nothing but meditate. So, when I haven’t done it for awhile, I start off slowly, maybe making myself sit for just a few minutes at a time.
Phew! The List Goes On
I could keep adding to this list with things like self-care, or getting a sober accountability buddy for the holidays, but for now, I wanted to remind myself of the fundamentals that kept me sober in the beginning and always work for me when things get tough.
Help Us Help You
I am personally not aware of any program of recovery that is meant to be done alone so let’s remember that we are NEVER by ourselves in this and we can continue to stay sober with support from each other!
What is one of the basics of early sobriety that gets you through the holidays? Please share with us!
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