She Recovers is a community for women in recovery founded by Canadian Dawn Nickel and her daughter Taryn Strong. We’ve worked closely with them over the years, and attended the She Recovers conferences in New York and Los Angeles. They believe, as do we, that everyone is recovering from something. As we claw towards 2022, this statement has never been more obvious.
The She Recovers network is in the hundreds of thousands, but within it, there are community spaces on Facebook for women recovering from a variety of things (alcohol-use disorder, substance-use disorder, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, grief, divorce, work addiction, burnout, cancer, PTSD… the list goes on and on).
Knowing that the dark days of December and January are extra tough for many, and definitely this year, as we layer feelings of fear, panic, and frustration, into the seasonal mix of all things “merry” and “joyful”, we decided to ask women in recovery, from the She Recovers network, how they plan to cope over the next few weeks. They were more than eager to share their suggestions.
Before we get to the advice, start with a deep breath. And another. And another. This is always a good place to start. Feel a bit better? A tiny bit? Okay, let’s get to the good stuff.
Surround Yourself With People Who Lift You Up
- This can be applied to both in-person situations, but also online. Choose your circle wisely.
- If you’re newly sober, or struggling, find one person who you can count on to agree to be “on standby” for calls and texts. Someone who you feel comfortable venting to (we all need to vent!).
- This year there are far less things happening than in previous years, but you still might get an invitation to a dinner, service, or whatever. If you’re not feeling it, politely decline. No guilt! Take care of yourself first. Protect your energy. Do what feels comfy for YOU.
Remove “The Shoulds”
- There is a lot of pressure regarding how we celebrate Christmas, or NYE. Do whatever feels comfortable, and if that means ordering in pizza and binge-watching a show you love, go for it! There are no rules of how one must do this time of year, despite what all the Christmas films might lead you to believe.
Think Ahead & Make a Plan
- If you know a particular situation might be challenging, prepare yourself in advance. Maybe you’re newly divorced and dealing with splitting time with your children, or feeling stressed about hosting a family member for dinner – make your life as easy as possible. That could look a lot of different ways: preparing a meal in advance, clear communication, sharing expectations, defining a schedule, even rehearsing a few lines for tough conversations. The more you prepare, the better you’ll feel, or as wise woman said, “For me it always helps to think ahead. Knowing what might be challenging & making a plan as to how to deal with it… that might be saying “no” to social events, scheduling time in for yourself (nature walks, meditation, connecting with friends), and trying to get as much sleep & rest as possible.”
Sleep and Rest
- Speaking of sleep and rest – this is crucial! When our body is well rested, everything is a little more manageable. Figure out what works best for you to ensure you get the rest you need. (Go to bed with a book, instead of your phone; limit your caffeine intake; tidy your room; get a good walk in during the day for fresh air and exercise; start your bedtime routine early; enjoy baths, journalling – or whatever you do to feel good before heading to bed.)
- It’s easy to coast on tea and chocolates, and also easy to skip meals when you’re stressed. Do try to nourish yourself. At the start of the day, cut up a bunch of fruit and veggies that you can quickly grab, or take time to enjoy making a beautiful soup. This may all sound so basic, but we also know how easy it can be to ignore self nourishment when you are dealing with really heavy and complicated feelings.
- Step away from the noise. This might mean actually exiting your home for a peaceful solitary walk, or it might mean taking a break from social media. Likely both!
Set Healthy Boundaries
- We love the above sentiment from Clementine Morrigan, a thought leader we deeply respect. People have this idea that setting boundaries is a vicious thing to do to loved ones, but they can be set quietly, and with love.
- Put it out there in the world, and it comes back to you. We never know what people are going through, but right now we do know that most people are going through A LOT. Be patient, gentle, and lead with compassion.
- If you are feeling lonely, anxious, overwhelmed, or think that connecting with others would likely benefit you (it usually does), She Recovers offers daily ZOOM gatherings. Over the next couple of weeks, they’re running a special She Recovers Together After Dark series, or what they’ve described as “marathon meetings”—for extra support this season. There are also AA and NA virtual meetups happening constantly. Although not impossible, it is much harder to recover alone.
Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Wishing you a restful and healthy holiday season.