It’s winter and, in the northern parts of the country, in the words of a seasonal song: “Oh the weather outside is frightful.” It’s tough enough getting through this stretch of the calendar when you’re in tip-top mental and emotional health. After all, there’s the mood zapping SAD – seasonal affective disorder – to stave off. And, let’s face it, you’re less inclined to battle the wind, snow, sleet, and other elements and shutter indoors instead. For those struggling with substance use or in recovery, this time of year is especially challenging. Here is our sober survival guide for winter. These 10 guidelines will help you preserve your sobriety and well-being, and even enjoy the cold winter months.
1: Take a Tip from Pharrell: “Happy”
Play music. Upbeat tunes do wonders for the psyche. It’s fun to listen and even dance around your living space. Hey, folks have gyrated around the house in movies. Many of us real-life people have done so too. Your cheerful playlist could include: “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Good Vibrations,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
2: Move Not Only to the Groove
Try some exercise at home. Pull out your yoga mat or hit the rug and do some moves or a routine. Stretch your muscles. Lift weights or, if you don’t have any, use canned foods instead. Look for an exercise show on TV or stream one. Get those endorphins going!
3: Bundle Up
Head outdoors and go for a brisk walk. If the situation is conducive, build a snowman. Shovel snow. Other ideas: Ice skate, ski, or snow shoe. Get a little sunlight. Then come in and have some hot chocolate.
Comfort food warms the heart and soothes the tummy. Have a favorite? Prepare it and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers to use whenever. This is the time to try a new recipe or concoct something of your own. Bake a batch of cookies, a cake or pie. Interested in trying a new food regimen? See if Keto Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, or another works for you. Do, as Rachael Ray says, and make something delish and stay healthy in the process.
Use your kitchen or shopping skills to plan a gathering. Invite friends who understand your situation and may even share some of the same issues. Keep the time stress free and light. Play games, watch or stream a movie.
6: Read, Write, and More
Head to the library and take out a bestseller or something that inspires you. See what’s new on the shelves, which piques your interest. If you’re so inspired, put your thoughts down on paper or on a screen. Start a journal. The same goes for drawing or painting. This may be a good time to test your talent. The results may please you.
7: Improve Your Living Space
On the subject of painting, buy a quart or gallon and freshen up your surroundings. A coat of paint can do wonders. So can clearing the clutter that seems somehow to accumulate. And those closets – dig in and organize, toss, and donate gently used items. These are great ways to cheer up and spread cheer.
8: Phone a Friend
Reach out to people. Catch up. Stay in touch. Call on occasion or more often. Share your thoughts, events of the days, things you’re heard, read, and done. Talking and listening are therapeutic.
9: Attend a Meeting(s)
If you don’t go to AA or NA, now is the time to start. Try a local chapter as well as different ones in the area to see which you like best. Go to one or to many or all of them on occasion or often. Listen to experiences and share your own.
10: Seek Treatment
Do you need a treatment tune up? Or, if you’re not in treatment, plan to get help. It’s the path to forging a productive future. Look into alternatives. Figure out the way forward. Deciding to take action is comforting in itself and a springboard to the best possibilities this winter season, for the rest of the year, and through the years ahead.
Read More from Sherry M. Adler: