Recovery begins with a decision to stop destructive behaviors and begin a new life, one without drugs or alcohol. The holiday rush is here and with that come parties, social events and gatherings which may trigger a desire to relapse. Giving back to others while coping with personal challenges in recovery might feel difficult but can have a positive impact and greatly improve the recovery process.
A grateful heart opens possibilities in recovery. The holidays can feel stressful when families gather or finances feel tight this time of year. Whatever the case may be, there are many ways to practice gratitude without feeling anxious, worried or stressed about money and giving tangible things. Take time to let loved ones and coworkers know you care about them. Each person’s recovery is different but if it includes a 12-step group or close circle of peers, the holidays are a wonderful time to express gratitude and thankfulness for all the support given. Many will be hard pressed to find a friend who does not welcome expressions of thankfulness for their kinship and kindness during the previous year. This, too, will open up pathways of feeling joy and peace not only for the person giving but the one(s) receiving as well.
Giving back is many people’s favorite parts of the holiday season. Buying presents, wrapping them and watching loved ones unfold them to see the surprise hidden inside gives a great feeling to both giver and recipient. However, gift giving comes in many packages. Not all gifts come wrapped in ribbons and bows. Time is a precious gift to offer someone in need. Recovery is challenging and sometimes draining but there are many people who give a great deal of time, money and effort to support individuals in recovery. To whom much is given, much is required, goes the saying. Think about all the gifts given during this time and in seasons past and consider new, innovative ways to give back to family, friends and the community through volunteering, making DIY crafts at home, hosting people for a cookie swap or just offering time to people in need.
All throughout the holidays, people look for ways to get into the ‘Christmas’ or ‘holiday spirit.’ What does this mean? The holiday spirit is about embodiment of the true meaning of Christmas-a giving, kind and compassionate heart. Studies have shown giving back reduces stress and releases feel good hormones. Take time this year to find a cause to support, lend a hand and give back to make the holidays merry and bright for those in need this season.