As Thanksgiving approaches, many people begin thinking about what they’re grateful for. It is a good reminder to stop and reflect. If you’re in recovery especially, this is a practice that you can maintain year-round as a way of supporting your sobriety. Gratitude is something that is learned over time, so finding things to be thankful for becomes easier the more often you do it.
In the throes of the holiday when there is family bustling around and everyone is feeling stressed, it can be difficult to remember to be thankful. Perhaps you got into an argument with your siblings or the apple pie didn’t turn out quite right. Stress and negative thinking can be major triggers for relapse, so having an attitude of gratitude can help you to stay focused and more positive. You can’t control everything, but you do have control of your attitude and how you respond to things happening around you.
Take a Time Out
Feeling overwhelmed? Find a quiet spot where you can have a few minutes to collect yourself and calm your body and mind. Take some deep breaths and close your eyes. Recite your favorite mantra or meditate for a few minutes. If the house is too noisy with family and friends, escape for a quick walk around block or some quiet time on the porch. Let the tension fade and remind yourself to be thankful that you’re surrounded by people who love and support you.
Write it Down
Some people find it very helpful to write down what they’re grateful for. Do this every day – not just for Thanksgiving. Find three to five things you’re thankful for each day. It doesn’t have to be something major like landing a new job or getting your car fixed. Remember the small things too, like having exact change for the parking meter or remembering your umbrella when a shower pops up. Keeping a journal of the things you’re grateful for each day gives you something to look back on when you’re having a rough time.
If you want to go a little further, write a letter to someone telling them why you’re thankful for them. It forces you to be reflective and look at the positive role others have played in your life, and it can also make you feel good knowing they’ll appreciate the kind words. It could be someone who helped you without even realizing it. Let them know.
If you feel like spending the day with family and friends is too much too soon, decide to do something different this year. Volunteer to serve meals to those in need or pass out groceries at a food pantry. Focus on how you can give back to others and support them in a time of need. You may even want to invite a few family members to come along. Start a new tradition and break up the day so it is less stressful.
Attend a Meeting
Stay focused on your recovery goals by attending a support group meeting before or after Thanksgiving get togethers (or before and after). This can help to remind you of all that you have to be grateful for and that there are a lot of people who want to see you succeed. Think about how far you have come and everything else you still want to do.
Don’t let the stress of the holidays get the best of you. Make it a point to practice self-care, focus on the positives, and do what is best for you and your continued recovery. If you realize you’ve had a slip or need more support, turn to Seacliff. With treatment options for every stage of recovery, we can help you get back on track.