Moving into rehab and then back into your life is an intensely difficult process. Depending on your situation, you’ve likely lost friends and family, cannot spend time with old friends (who likely drink or use), and might just be in the first stages of putting your life back together. The holidays make that more difficult by ensuring our friends and family are likely at parties or drinking, by creating a sense of isolation when you can’t partake, and by adding stress. Many of us experience a symptom called the holiday blues around this time. Here, we feel depressed, down, or sad around this time of year, often because of increases in stress, failed expectations, and loneliness. As a Christian, you’re never alone, God is always by your side, but you still have to fill your time with meaningful activities that will remind you of that.
If you’re reading this article, chance are, you can’t go home to family. However, there are still plenty of things you can do, especially as a Christian. This article will help you decide what’s right for you this Christmas.
Many recovering addicts are drawn to volunteering, especially around Christmas. As a Christian, it’s not just something you can do to honor your commitment to God and to your fellow man. It’s also something you can do to actively help your recovery. In fact, volunteering can give you the stability, peace of mind, and feelings of achievement to drive you forward in recovery.
At the same time, it’s important to be careful of where you volunteer. Most of us immediately want to go help others like us. It feels good to be able to offer a drug addict a place to stay and a warm meal for Christmas. But, if you’re early in recovery, you want to stay far away. The presence of drugs and alcohol could result in relapse, rather than you helping. Instead, plan to volunteer at soup kitchens, at your church, or with your 12-step group. In fact, many of these organizations hold Christmas parties and events and volunteers are often short. You can spend a few hours of your day on Christmas handing out meals, helping with seating, or working in a group to ensure everyone makes it through their Christmas safely. Most importantly, you’ll go home having helped people.
Christmas is about more than presents and lights, it’s also about the birth of Jesus Christ. Setting aside at least some time for Him on this day is important. Whether you do that by attending church in person, going to an online ceremony, or praying on your own is up to you. There are many ways to sit and talk to God. Being with people can be helpful for your mental health and state of mind. But it may not be possible. Do what you can.
Whether or not you can see people you care about, it’s important to spend time talking to them. Depending on your relationship with them, that might be difficult. Consider planning a visit, calling, video calling, or even writing a letter. What should you say? That heavily depends on your relationship, your actions, and how you feel. If you owe them an apology, now is a good time to do it. If you regularly talk, just hang out and have a good time, in whatever way you can.
There are a lot of reasons to spend time with people you care about over the holidays. The major of those is that we’re raised thinking we should get a social Christmas full of camaraderie and love. If you don’t get that, you’re likely to feel sad, tired, and alone. We need other people, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Chances are, you attend a 12-step group. Make sure you make time to attend a virtual, phone, or in-person session this Christmas. While options might vary depending on your region, having the chance to go to talk to your peers can be powerful. Many 12-Step groups are still fully Christian-centered. There are many other Christian-based recovery options you can choose from. Many of us feel sad, lonely, and wish for human engagement on Christmas, your peers won’t be any different. Sharing stories, listening to others, and understanding how they feel will help you to deal with that.
In addition, many 12 Step groups offer Christmas dinners and events for those of us who don’t have anyone to go back to. This can be an excellent decision for you if you’re otherwise spending the day alone. Why? Just getting to share a meal with people can be a valuable way to feel good and to feel good about yourself. If you can sit down, pray, and break bread with your peers, you can share how you feel with them. And that’s a lot better for you than staying home by yourself.
Having a support group is one of the best gifts you can give yourself over Christmas.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” –1 Corinthians 6:19-20
While it’s important to take time to give to others, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Doing so allows you to keep your mind, body, and spirit in good shape. And, when you do that, you honor God in the best way possible. Depending on you and your health, that might involve making sure you eat well, going for a walk, or taking time to destress. It might involve starting to build new and better habits, to sitting and thinking about your recovery and what it has done for you, or to taking the time to manage cravings over the day.
As Christians, we always have God to fall back on. Most of us can also turn to our congregation, to our 12-step groups, and hopefully to friends and family. Seeking out help, comfort, and love from each of these places is the best possible way to spend your Christmas.