For people in early recovery, holidays like Memorial Day Weekend can be especially challenging to maintain sobriety. Most of that stems from cultural traditions tied to the holiday. Many of those traditions involve alcoholic beverages, lake time with friends and BBQs. Still, it is possible and fulfilling to spend the annual memorial holiday sober. A solid plan can help you manage and overcome holiday triggers and enable you to engage in meaningful Memorial Day fun.
Of course, staying away from lake parties, bars and gatherings where drinking is prevalent is a given if you are new to recovery. Going to a meeting, even more than one if necessary, can stave off urges, boredom and loneliness. Nevertheless, many communities and organizations offer healthy activities such as “fun runs” and 5Ks for local charities, military tributes, volunteer opportunities to help veterans and their loved ones, parades and much more.
There are several ways to celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day. Ideally, Americans should use the holiday to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who have served in our armed services. Plant a tree, raise a flag, visit the veterans in your life and thank them for their service – the options are endless.
Frequently, community organizations plan 5Ks and other fitness challenges around Memorial Day Weekend. You can help raise money for veterans groups and military families while participating in the ultimate healthy activity.
Most communities host an annual Memorial Day parade or related event. You can also visit your local history or military museum. Test drive some patriotic recipes or create some red, white and blue crafts and repurpose on July 4.
Create some new traditions for yourself, friends and family. Plan a day with sober friends at a pool or waterpark. Go to your favorite meeting and get support from your recovery network. Play games, watch a film from WWII or donate your money or time to veteran’s charities.
During the holiday weekend, AA and NA have many gatherings that serve as safe and smart alternatives to alcohol-infused parties. They can also provide a more meaningful experience. Ask around at meetings for information about holiday events. Many 12 step groups host cookouts, dances, even water-related activities for Memorial Day. Especially for people in early recovery, staying close to other sober friends is the smart choice.
Share your plans with your family and friends. Communicate with them so they can help and support your recovery.
A big part of relieving temptation comes from self-care. Take care of yourself by eating healthy (maybe the most difficult task), getting enough rest and staying active or exercising daily. Avoid situations that you know are trigger risks and keep an AA or NA meeting schedule within reach.
A wonderful thing about recovery involves experiencing all of the various holidays with clarity. Open yourself up to all of the inspiration, courage and honor that our veterans have shown. Show gratitude for their sacrifice. Create fresh Memorial Day traditions for yourself, friends and family. You can also plan and provide a safe, fun and sober space for your friends in recovery.
Remember that recovery provides the opportunity to enhance your Memorial Day Weekend experience in incredible, powerful and hopeful ways. Make every effort to leverage your ongoing support community and recovery plan. It will empower you to celebrate the holiday while staying focused on your recovery journey and avoiding relapse.
Explore Valley Hope’s Beyond the Valley blog for extensive resources and information for loved ones, families and the recovery community.
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