This holiday season may be your first sober in a long time. If that’s the case, you may be facing a common dilemma in early recovery: how to connect with family over the holidays. Connecting in positive and meaningful ways can strengthen your resilience to relapse, after all— but the reverse can also be true (that conflict and disconnection with family at this time of the year can be a relapse trigger).
For some in early recovery, then, it may be best to connect from a distance and not in person. Skype, FaceTime and video chat apps are great online tools for strengthening this long-distance connection. Handwritten notes, too, can communicate greater intentionality and care went into your effort to connect with a loved one.
Another meaningful way to connect with family from afar? Sending photos from a current album. For a parent, grandparent, or even spouse, those images from your life don’t just update them about how you’re doing and what you’re up to; they can be priceless.
If your family is local and you need to minimize your interactions at this time of the year, consider taking part in a volunteer event that is hosted by a church or service organization in the area. This lets you spend a few hours with your loved ones, without having to be captive to their company over a longer period of time at home or elsewhere.
For those of you who will be home with family this holiday season, here are some ideas for connecting in meaningful ways:
- Keep your expectations of others and of the day very low. Expectations are pre-meditated resentments.
- Offer homemade gifts.
- Ask everyone to keep phones and electronics off the dinner table, so you are able to be more present to one another.
- Play board games together.
- Watch holiday movie classics together.
- Cook/bake together.
- Go around the dinner table with each person sharing one thing that they love about the person to their left/right— or why they are grateful to them.
- Put several open-ended questions into a basket and send it around the dinner table. Each person then pulls out a question and has to answer it.
With a little planning and forethought this holiday season, you’ll be able to connect with your loved ones in meaningful ways.
If you are looking for tips on how to connect with a family member in recovery, check out: