Holiday Activities While in Recovery

Holiday Activities While in Recovery

Are you currently in recovery from drugs or alcohol dependence and getting ready to celebrate the holidays? Or are you supporting a loved one who is trying to stay sober? Going through  the holidays while in recovery can be difficult for a lot of people. The goal is to have the strength, support, and coping skills in order to have an incredible holiday without having to struggle to stay sober.

Even with the best support, there may still be things or people that trigger or tempt you to slide back. That’s why you have to create a plan of action beforehand.

You are probably going to want to hang out with your friends and family over the holiday—whether you are traveling, social-distancing via Zoom, or already have lots of people surrounding you—the holidays are a time for togetherness.

But for those who suffer from addiction, the holidays may bring up bad memories or triggers which is difficult for ones recovery. For many, holidays involve popping bottles of champagne or going to a tacky sweater bar crawl with friends. There are holiday parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and company parties. The holidays might also mean isolating from family and friends while using or traveling home to be placed in familiar locations they once would buy, sell, or use.

Aside from identifying coping skills, such as those listed in one of Continuum’s previous blogs—Coping Skills to Help You Stay Sober Over the Holidays—it will be helpful to create a solid plan of action and a few backup plans for holiday activities.

Read below for a list of fun-filled, recovery friendly activities for the holidays.

For those who want to reduce stress and relax…

  • Try a spa day
  • Try a foot massage
  • Try an infrared sauna
  • Try a mani and pedi
  • Try meditation
  • Try a sound bath
  • Try a massage class


Did you know that there are scientific studies on the effects of getting a massage? Not only will your stress hormone cortisol decrease, but your dopamine and serotonin (AKA the Happy Hormones) will increase, leaving you feel calm, relaxed, and with not a care in the world.

Some other benefits of getting a massage include the reduction of toxins in your body, you will get better sleep, and you can restore your mental balance.

For those who love adventure and want to get moving…

  • Try hiking
  • Try playing around at a park
  • Try skiing
  • Try axe-throwing
  • Try an escape room
  • Try a city bus or segway tour
  • Try renting a cabin for a few nights
  • Try taking a day-trip to a new town

Staying active has the same effects as getting a massage does—it increases the happy hormones and reduces the stress hormones.

Do you live in Colorado or plan to visit soon? Check out the 7 COLORADO ADVENTURES YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT.

  1. Canyoning in Ouray
  2. Donkey racing in Cripple Creek
  3. Heli fly-fishing in Minturn
  4. Cliff camping in Estes Park
  5. High-altitude sailing at Lake Dillon
  6. E-bike cruising in Colorado wine country
  7. Hiking the Continental Divide Trail

For those who want some classic holiday family-time…

  • Try binge-watching cheesy holiday movies
  • Try playing board games
  • Try driving around to look at holiday lights
  • Try making gingerbread houses
  • Try cooking new or nostalgic recipes
  • Try buying tacky holiday sweaters
  • Try going to a religious gathering together
  • Try going to a holiday-inspired craft market
  • Try going to a tree-lighting ceremony

It’s the holidays…embrace it! Do activities that are nostalgic, that make you feel like a kid again. If you’re feeling down…decorate. If you’re feeling anxious…surround yourself with supportive family and friends. Don’t miss out on what holiday-time has to offer.

For those who are interested in practicing gratitude…

  • Try a volunteering project
  • Try making holiday cards or buying presents for those in nursing homes or hospitals
  • Try to make a gratitude list every day
  • Try to show friends and family you are grateful for them
  • Try to donate things you no longer need
  • Try to “adopt” a child for the holidays, such as through the Angel Tree
  • Try to help out a neighbor or friend who cannot get out and about

Giving is literally good for you. Giving back to others in need can not only be a fun, cooperative, and social activity, but it helps reduce stress. Practicing gratitude can also bring about more positivity and personal happiness. Why wouldn’t you want to give…it’s a win-win situation!

For those who are on a budget…

  • Try making crafts
  • Try building a 3D puzzle
  • Try ice-skating
  • Try making a city/town scavenger hunt
  • Try bowling or laser tag
  • Try watching favorite holiday movies
  • Try having an ornament or dessert exchange
  • Try making a snowman (if there is snow!)
  • Try having a Christmas tree picnic or camp-out

This year more people are struggling financially than during previous holidays due to the pandemic. But just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get in the holiday spirit and have a wonderful time with friends and family. Use creativity instead of money—think outside of the box, not about what is inside the box. There are numerous blogs online, including Pinterest, that give great alternate gifting, decorating, and activity ideas for those not wanting to spend too much this season.

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better idea of the holiday activities you can do that do not involve using substances. It’s all about creating a plan of action, getting creative, and finding those who will support you and enjoy the plans with you. You need to be willing to make an effort, rely on your treatment and support team, and have an alternate plan in case you begin to feel uncomfortable.

If you are at the beginning of your recovery journey and need someone to talk to about outpatient alcohol treatment or outpatient substance abuse treatment—contact Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado and speak to someone about taking the right steps toward sobriety.

We wish you all a happy holiday!