The Approaching Holidays
Many people in recovery (and if we’re being honest, many, many other people) dread the big holidays toward the end of the year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, the temptations and stressors range from office parties with free-flowing alcohol to big family get-togethers during which conversation can turn to some uncomfortable subjects. It’s supposed to be a joyous time of year, but depending on where you are in your recovery journey, you might not be feeling the joy.
Still and all, it might be possible to make the holidays work for you instead of against you. Take Thanksgiving, for example. Break it down into its component words: “thanks” and “giving.” By focusing on what you are thankful for and by giving back to your community, your family, and your friends, you may find that you strengthen your resolve over the holiday season—giving yourself the gift of ongoing sobriety. And that is something to be truly thankful for.
Be Intentional with Random Acts of Kindness
We have opportunities each and every day to improve the lives of those around us in small but meaningful ways. It’s the perfect way to get yourself into a spirit of thanks and giving.
But what to do? Well, it might be helpful to think about things that would brighten your day or make you smile when things are tough. Odds are those same things will be perfect options for spreading kindness. For example, you might:
- Generously tip your server when you dine out—or even pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal.
- Bring homemade (or even store-bought) treats into the office or to a friend’s house.
- Take some canned goods and personal hygiene items to a food pantry or shelter.
- Donate books to a Little Free Library, a shelter, or a classroom.
- Offer your help with mowing, raking, gardening, or snow removal to someone in your neighborhood who might need a little assistance.
- Write personal notes of thanks or encouragement to people who have supported you.
Looking for even more ideas? It turns out that there is a website called Random Acts that shares inspiring stories, ideas for demonstrating care and empathy, and a program for financial support of acts of kindness.
Even without the aid of a website, you will almost certainly encounter opportunities to be kind as you go about your day. Taking advantage of those opportunities can bring a smile to someone else’s face—and the glow of good feelings you will experience supports your ongoing recovery.
Take Things to the Next Level by Volunteering
Another way to experience the benefits of both thanks and giving is to volunteer in your community. Helping an organization reach its important goals can be very rewarding.
Not quite ready to jump into a big project with a lot of other folks? That’s no problem at all. It turns out that some volunteering options can be done at home. You might find opportunities at websites like Volunteer Match and Virtual Volunteer.
But isolation is not always the best thing for maintaining your recovery, so when you are ready, it might be better to find volunteer opportunities that will connect you with other people. You can find like-minded people volunteering in all kinds of organization: animal shelters, community gardens and food pantries, youth sports programs, arts organizations, and more. It is likely that social service, faith-based, and arts and culture organizations in your community are working on issues and ideas that are important to you.
Often, you can contribute to these efforts even if you don’t have any experience. Loyal volunteers are often the lifeblood of underfunded organizations seeking to do good work in the world. Your willingness to help may be the only qualification you need.
And while you will be doing this work out of the goodness of your heart—as part of your program of thanks and giving—it doesn’t hurt to remember that volunteering can help job seekers find their next position. Your hard work may even lead to a paid position with an organization you are truly passionate about.
Being Thankful and Giving Back in the Recovery Community
Maybe you have a heart for helping people just like you who have struggled with a substance abuse disorder. If you have a full year of sobriety to your credit, you might consider becoming a sponsor for someone else in recovery. If you’ve been participating in a 12-Step program, you already know how powerful the relationship between a sponsor and the person they are supporting can be.
If this kind of service appeals to you, ask yourself if you possess the following traits:
- A commitment to modeling positive behavior
- A belief in the power of recovery to improve someone’s life
- A willingness to share your experiences and knowledge
- An ability to explain how a 12-Step program works to support recovery
- A desire to guide a newly sober person through the challenging early days of recovery via the 12-Steps
- An understanding that romance between a sponsor and the person being supported is never appropriate
If you recognize yourself when you consider those characteristics, you may be well suited to being a sponsor. It is a wonderful way to say thanks to those who have supported you while giving of yourself to someone else.
We’re Thankful for the Opportunity to Help
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we are ready and able to help you get back to a place that allows you to pay it forward. We understand the power of thankfulness and the benefits of giving back. We can help you build a firm foundation for long-term sobriety—a foundation you can build on as you help individuals and organizations in your life and community.