Dwelling too heavily on yourself and your sobriety during the holidays can make it hard to relax and enjoy yourself. Putting more of your focus on others will help you see a bigger picture.

Find ways to show love and gratitude.

Supportive friends and family are invaluable in recovery, and the holidays are the perfect time to express your love and gratitude. Take someone you love out for pie or a holiday production. Write letters of thanks, or spend some time making crafts or baked tokens of your appreciation.

Reach out to someone who needs your help.

If you know someone who could use a helping hand during the holidays, reach out and offer your services. Whether it’s babysitting for friends while they do their holiday shopping, helping your grandma with her annual baking or giving a ride to someone without transportation, looking for needs and filling them will get you into the holiday spirit.

Host a sober party.

You’re definitely not the only one in recovery struggling with the challenges of the holidays. If you have other sober friends or acquaintances, throw a sober shindig where you can mingle without worrying that someone’s going to want to buy you a drink. Hosting a party is a great distraction, and it may make someone else’s holiday much brighter than it would otherwise be.

Volunteer.

Volunteering your time to a cause during the holidays can improve your mood and help you keep things in perspective. Think about your strengths and values, and put them to work for a cause you feel strongly about. Toy drives, food banks, homeless shelters and children’s homes are often looking for extra volunteers during the holidays, and you can make a difference.

What to Do If You Lapse

Lapse is regarded as part of the recovery process, and it’s common around the holidays. If you lapse, don’t succumb to guilt, self-hatred or other negative emotions. Instead, consider the progress you’ve made so far, and have faith that you can get through this setback. Contact your sponsor or aftercare case manager as soon as possible. They’ll ensure you get the help you need to determine what went wrong, develop essential missing skills and get back on track quickly—and probably stronger than before.

The holidays can be a time of joy and happiness if you take the time and make the effort to practice your coping skills, maintain good physical and mental health and get help when you need it. Set realistic expectations, but reach for the stars. Use the holiday season as a time to repair relationships, give of yourself and reflect on what’s most important to you.

That, after all, is the very heart of the holidays.