With the abundance of food, time spent with family, and money invested in gifts for loved ones in the days following the feast, the focus during the holidays is clearly on celebrating the good things in life. For many, this is a much-needed break from the mundane, an opportunity to eat well, and a chance to lavish time and attention on loved ones.
For people in recovery, the holiday season represents a unique set of opportunities. Though relationships with family members may be strained after addiction, there is no better time than the holidays to begin or continue repairing and strengthening those bonds. Though finances may be tight, some of the best gifts cost nothing but time and thought. And as always, taking the time to really meditate on all the things that are wonderful in life is an excellent choice every day in recovery.
Here are 12 ways that you can practice the gratitude that is such an integral part of happiness in recovery this holiday season:
- Write a thank you note. No emails, texts, or calls. Take the time to write out a thank you note to whomever cooks the meal you eat this holiday, the person who gave you a ride, or the friend or family member who supplied the pumpkin pie. Pick someone who made your holiday better and write them a handwritten note to express your gratitude.
- Take a walk. There is nothing like getting out in the world to remind yourself of all the details that make being alive so amazing. Whether it’s the flowers and butterflies that cross your path or the architecture of the buildings around you and the people you pass on the sidewalk, a walk can remind of you why you are where you are and what you have to be grateful for.
- Cook something from scratch. When you go through the process of choosing to make something, buying the ingredients, mixing it up, and taking the time to bake it or cook it, you put a little bit of yourself into your food. There is something very mindful about cooking, a requirement to be present and thoughtful about your eating, with built-in moments for gratitude.
- Listen. Take a moment this holiday season to listen to children, the older people in your life, your best friend, your parents, your buddy, and people in the 12-Step meeting you attend. Just listen without trying to fix them, offer advice, or counter with your own similar story. Being present, and being there for someone else is a way of actively being grateful for all the times that someone was there for you.
- Read something uplifting. There are a number of great books out there that can help you to manage specific issues you may be facing, help you to experience things you may never otherwise know about, and escape into fantastical fictional worlds of adventure and beauty. During the holiday weekend, take time to be with yourself and read something amazing – an old favorite or something new – and be grateful for the intricacies of your mind.
- Repeat. Practicing gratitude is most beneficial to recovery when it becomes a regular habit. Take whatever methods of recognizing what you have to be grateful for listed above and begin to make them a regular part of your life during the holidays and through the next year.