The winter months can be tough when you’re trying to stay sober. The colder weather, the shorter days, the holidays – they can all be triggers that lead you back to old ways.
But here’s the good news: the next few months don’t have to be unbearable or lead to a relapse. Combat the winter doldrums with these simple recovery tips; they’ll help you keep those cravings at bay.
Fighting Off the Winter-Time Blues
- Tip #1 – Go Outside
Did you know getting out of the house and catching some rays can have positive effects on your mood? It’s true – sunshine is a proven mood booster. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of the hormone, serotonin, which promotes an improved state of mind and increased sense of calm. Get your daily dose of Vitamin D by taking a walk, keeping your blinds open or placing chairs and tables near windows.
- Tip #2 – Stay Connected
Typically, the holidays require participating in activities that may have involved substance use in the past, so it’s crucial to stay connected to your support system. Bring a friend with you to gatherings that may involve alcohol and make sure you have someone you can call if you’re feeling triggered. Knowing you have a support group that has your back will provide you with extra strength to resist temptation during these winter months.
- Tip #3 – Plan Ahead
If you’re going to a holiday party, have a plan in place before heading through the front door. Bring a sober friend to help combat temptation, carry a non-alcoholic beverage to keep your hands occupied and have a rehearsed spiel on-hand just in case anyone asks why you’re not tossing a few back. By being prepared, you’ll be better equipped for whatever curve-balls may be thrown your way.
- Tip #4 – Practice Gratitude
Practice an “attitude of gratitude.” Multiple studies have shown just by being appreciative of life’s everyday joys can have a profound impact on mental and physical well-being. The winter months present the perfect opportunity to reflect on all your achievements over the past year. Make a list of your accomplishments – big and small – and say out loud all you’re thankful for; it might just do the trick to boost your mood when you’re feeling low.
- Tip #5 – Keep Realistic Expectations
If this is your first winter sober, it’s important to come to grips with the idea that sobriety doesn’t automatically make all your problems go away. It’s going to take some time for you to adjust to this new way of living and for you to build a happy life. By knowing this ahead of time and keeping your expectations in check, you’re less likely to become discouraged and relapse.
- Tip #6 – Maintain a Healthy Routine
No matter how stressful or hectic the winter season becomes, remember to get plenty of rest, practice healthy eating habits, go to meetings and exercise regularly. In other words, stick to your recovery routine as much as possible.
Additional Reading: 7 Sober Activities for Cold Winter Months
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