Tackling one’s first winter in sobriety can be a difficult ambition to see through. The winter months can bring a number of new hurdles and complications that can compromise one’s hard-earned sobriety, and navigating this time can be challenging for those who may not have gone through the winter season with their newfound sober outlook before. However, while it can present new challenges, preparing for the season can help each individual successfully navigate its changes while continuing to prioritize one’s progress in recovery and sober goals.
The Challenges of the Winter Months
Winter is a time of change. Dropping temperatures, dwindling amounts of daylight, and even the changing of clocks can all throw off the routine one established during the warmer months of the year.
Lack of sufficient daylight can lead to the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in some individuals. Sad presents feelings of depression, lethargy, and a compromised sense of self-worth that can affect one’s motivation and ability to cope with the stresses of urges, cravings, and other trials of addiction recovery.
Colder temperatures can also carry their own trials, compromising one’s ability to go outside or engage in regular outdoor activities. Those who utilize the outdoors as an outlet for coping with stresses can find this time of year to be exceptionally difficult, as sports clubs may be closed, pools are covered up, and the cold can make it difficult to go on jogs or hiking trips.
While these are all phenomenal recovery outlets, the winter can make their consistent implementation challenging, leaving an individual feeling as if they are stuck inside and bound by walls rather than able to freely utilize their proven stress relief strategies.
Due to these compromised strategies, boredom can become a very real threat. Boredom can leave an individual with a wealth of free time and few practical ideas of how to spend it. For those still navigating their recovery and maintaining sober practices, urges and thoughts of one’s past use may still be embedded as a way to pass this dead time, increasing the chances of relapse.
Getting in Routine
Preparing for the challenges presented by the winter months means incorporating one’s plans early in the year. Establishing routines, such as morning alarms, morning hygiene routines, and creating a stable meal schedule are all essential skills that can help an individual retain a sense of consistency through all months of the year.
Regular alarms that remain consistent regardless of the time of sunrise coupled with effective meals help ensure that an individual is getting enough rest and keeping a healthy schedule while dealing with the changes presented by the winter months in a structured environment. This helps alleviate some of the stress, preventing an individual from getting overwhelmed by the sudden changes.
Practice Keeping Connected
Keeping in touch with friends, peers, and supports is crucial at all stages of recovery, and their role is not mitigated at any point in the year. However, the winter months can make getting together with friends more difficult due to the limited activities and daylight. Finding ways to keep connected in person or through other mediums is crucial, such as regular texts, calls, or e-mail.
Having new hobbies associated with the changing times that can accommodate the season is paramount. Meeting with friends for an indoor board game night instead of the regular pick-up basketball may be a drastic change from what one is used to.
The function of keeping connected with others and maintaining essential relationships remains the same. Incorporating movie nights on the weekend or choosing to get together to hang out on a phone call or video call rather than meet up in person as temperatures may be non-permitting can all be great ways to keep connected and establish new norms to keep one’s relationships nurtured year-round.
Knowing the possible hurdles of the winter months can help each individual prepare for their annual inevitability. However, navigating this time of year for the first time after graduating from a treatment program can present unique hurdles for each individual.
Maintaining mindfulness practices and attending outpatient therapy while monitoring any changes one feels in themselves is still essential. Working with trusted supports and professionals can help each individual further personalize their strategies for coping with the winter months.
Journaling one’s feelings, having open and honest meetings and taking time to rehearse regular mindfulness practices are still a core part of one’s recovery and practices that may be even more important while navigating this time of year for the first time.
Winter can be an extraordinarily difficult time as the seasons, and one’s regular routines change, and there can be a plethora of considerations to cope with these changes. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the unique challenges presented by the changing seasons and are ready to help you navigate your health and sobriety during the winter months, all while coping with the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or other challenges presented. We offer a personalized approach to your recovery, offering art and music therapies, yoga, mindfulness practices, and more. Our therapeutic practices are backed with a homey atmosphere to help you detach from daily stresses in a comfortable environment while exploring your unique journey and vulnerabilities on your path to a healthy future. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member, call Everlast Recovery Centers today at (866) 338-6925.