Battling the Winter Blues: Recovery During the Winter Months
The winter months are hard. The weather can be unbearable and there are minimal hours of daylight. Really, who wants to leave the house when it’s 10 degrees and your house is warm and cozy? All in all, it’s really no surprise that a seasonal funk can set in. But we can’t let the season determine how energetic we are in our program. It is just as important to be active in your recovery during the winter months as it is any other time.
Don’t Let Your Recovery Suffer During the Winter Months
When the question comes up about whether to go to that meeting or to just stay home where you’re warm and comfortable, it’s important to remember what that meeting stands for. Every meeting that you attend is your daily dose of recovery. Each meeting you go to also keeps you closer to the flock. That’s the difference between being IN the program and circling the outside. If you start to miss meetings, it’s not long before it’s easy to convince yourself that three meetings a week is fine; then maybe one or two. Before you know it, you’ll go a month without meetings and your sobriety will suffer.
Keep a Commitment
One trick to get you to meetings, even in the coldest weather, is to sign up for a commitment. Making the coffee for a meeting is a great way to stay connected to the people there. It’s harder to break a commitment and not show than it is just to not go. Or, my personal favorite is offering to give rides. When you give another member of AA a ride to a meeting, you are not only doing a service to them. You are also guaranteeing that you get yourself to that meeting. Giving rides is also amazing because of the meeting that happens in the car and on the way to and from the actual meeting. I have personally always had an easier time sharing with a woman sitting next to me in a car than I have in a full room.
Any old timer will tell you that you need to put as much into your recovery as you did into your addiction. I know there were blizzards that I was willing to drive through in order to get what I needed. It is important to think about that when we believe it’s okay to just stay home because our “recovery is fine” or missing one won’t hurt. We should chase after our recovery even during the winter months “with the same fervor with which the dying seize life preservers” (12&12 p.22). Obviously it isn’t good to put yourself in any danger to go to a meeting. If the weather is terrible, by all means stay put. Just don’t make a habit of it.
Meetings don’t get cancelled
Finally, meetings don’t get cancelled. If you are ever worried that you may show up and no one is there, remember that there are probably other members thinking the same thing. I was told once in early sobriety that we show up in case someone else comes who needs the meeting even more than we do. Also, there are dedicated members who may be willing to trek through the snow and ice to make it no matter what.
Recovery aside, seasonal Depression, or Season Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real thing. If you think you may be experiencing unusually deeper depression or mood swings, reach out to a professional. Just like in recovery, it is important that we know when to ask for help. You could speak to a sponsor about it, or reach out to a therapist; they may be able to offer some helpful tips as well.
No matter what, don’t let your recovery during the winter months fall by the wayside because of weather or limited daylight that comes this time of year. Remember what it is that you are fighting for and don’t let yourself become complacent. It doesn’t matter whether you have 30 days or 30 years; meetings are here to remind us where we came from and what we have now. Stay strong, stay committed and don’t place anything before your sobriety.
Meet the Author:
Jenn Worthington, Alumni Relations Coordinator