The gift of giving is like no other. That’s why during the holidays, many of us enjoy playing Santa as we generously shop for little trinkets to sneak into our loved one’s holiday stockings. It’s always an exciting experience thinking of them actually using our gifts in their daily lives.
With that said, have you stopped and given thought to what you’ll be gifting yourself this year? Whether you’re in addiction or long recovered, you shouldn’t neglect giving yourself something you’ll benefit from all year long. This holiday season, I recommend giving yourself these five recovery tools to help support your path to an even more fulfilling new year.
1. A Recovery Program
Think of your recovery path. What got you started or got you through? Was it the 12 Steps, Smart Recovery, or Narcotics Anonymous? Perhaps you decided to get sober on your own, and it worked. Whatever it was, think of the most instrumental things that have helped you stay strong. Write them down and be very specific. For example, instead of “outpatient treatment” or “Alcoholics Anonymous,” you can write, “someone who called me on my B.S.” or “information and education about my disease.” You may also write things like “prayer,” “my sponsor’s advice on avoiding triggers,” or “fellowship.” Throw this list in your wallet or save it on your phone—it will serve as an essential tool for when things get dicey.
2. A Healthy Regimen
The benefits of a good night’s rest cannot be understated. So get enough sleep and do it regularly. Prepare yourself balanced meals to regulate your blood sugar, start an exercise program to have an outlet for stress, and keep your body in shape and release endorphins. Sign up for a gym or yoga studio membership, attend a martial arts school or dedicate 30 minutes to an hour each day for a light outdoor stroll. Just know your physical needs, address them, and afford yourself the gift of improved health.
3. A Social Support System
Isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and thoughts of using or drinking that can easily go unchecked. Think of the people in your life who’ve always helped you get outside yourself. Make a list of specific friends, family members, groups, clubs, and organizations that make you feel happy about your path, make your sobriety possible, or keep you connected to something other than yourself. Add or update their contact information on your phone, write their names on a piece of paper and slip it in your holiday stocking to have nearby when the holiday blues come around.
4. A Spiritual Outlet
Your spiritual and emotional health shouldn’t be taken for granted. Give yourself a chance to experience spiritual enlightenment—whether through meditation, yoga, prayer, church, or any other spiritual discipline. You can even set aside some time for self-compassion exercises or simply journaling. If none of these suit you, you can even keep a collection of things that make you laugh, like memes, jokes, and favorite comedies. Just find something that uplifts and connects you to the ethereal aspects of yourself.
5. A Customized Resource Booklet
Everyone can benefit from having all their medical and other health information at hand, especially if you have a condition that needs to be tracked. Put together a small booklet that contains information about your diagnosis, important dates, medications, doctors, counselors, relapse prevention and relapse treatment programs, helplines, sponsor/s, emergency contacts, and more. This way, when needed and appropriate, you can easily access outside help and set yourself up for a successful recovery.
This holiday season, don’t forget to give (or continue to give) yourself the most important gift of all—a life in recovery. So be kind to yourself, just as you would treat others. And if you find yourself struggling in your path, whip out any one of these trusty recovery tools to help pull yourself through.