For most, vacations are a time for relaxation and rejuvenation. However, for those in early recovery, vacations can create stressful and harmful environments. You might even associate vacations with drinking and partying. Understand that you can have a better time vacationing when you are sober because you make deeper connections with the environment and remember more of your experiences.
Although, if you are used to drinking while on vacation, you might hesitate to make plans to travel for fear of relapse. While you need to consider where you are at in your recovery and be honest about whether you are ready to travel, there are also strategies you can use to help you prepare for a safe and sober vacation. After all, the priority of any vacation is to relax and become stress-free, and just because you can no longer include substances does not mean you can’t relax, too. Let’s get into some ways in which you can prepare for your vacation.
Consider the Location and Time You’re Spending Away
Understanding your triggers, including the situations and people that incite your impulse to use, helps you better prepare, approach, and develop resilience when you find yourself in a challenging situation. Further, if you understand that traveling away for a week could present intense impulses and cravings, begin planning shorter and local weekend getaways. Shorter trips can help build up your confidence and comfort. After a few short trips, you can then try to prepare for a longer vacation.
Additionally, when you can choose your vacation location, look for areas that emphasize wellness rather than partying. For example, you might look for resorts or hotels that offer spa services that focus on relaxation and meditation. Even if you cannot choose your destination, it might be possible to select where you stay. You might find that you can feel safer in different lodging arrangements rather than resorts. Ultimately, you will want to plan to avoid as many triggering situations as you can.
Look for Local Support
It is always good to plan out your meetings before embarking on a trip. Knowing where meetings are and when you will attend them helps keep you motivated, focused, and accountable during your trip. You might even discover that your destination offers meetings that you can attend. Finding communities conducive to your recovery needs, such as 12-Step meetings or places that emphasize faith and prayer, puts you in touch with people who share your experiences and helps bring comfort in knowing that you are not the only person in recovery vacationing.
Have an Exit Strategy
If you find yourself in a triggering situation that might harm your recovery, it is good to have an exit strategy. You can write something down or tell a trusted friend or family member something to help get yourself away from a dangerous situation. What you write or share with a friend or family member might include a safe space where you can go to get away from the situation.
You can also write down your coping strategies in a phone app, so they are with you if you need them. Provide yourself ten strategies that help you cope. Strategies could consist of breathwork, showing gratitude, or setting a photo of you and a loved one on your phone screen to help to remind you of how far you have come in recovery. Just make sure to remind yourself that nothing is worth jeopardizing your progress.
You should also let your sponsor or counselor know that you are going on vacation. Together, you could create a plan that makes them available to talk to you at any point during your vacation. Knowing you have professional support when you need it adds a great deal of security and limits your chances of succumbing to negative thoughts and behaviors.
Make Time for Self-Care
How you look after yourself affects your mood negatively or positively. When on vacation, try to maintain a similar structure to managing recovery during a regular day. Ensure you are getting good sleep at a good time, maintain a consistent eating schedule, and use provided amenities to exercise or stretch. If you neglect the needs that support your self-care, you could start to become irritable, anxious, or lonely. Therefore, by preparing and minding your needs, you can keep yourself feeling happy and motivated.
It is essential to keep yourself engaged. Buying an audiobook, having access to streaming services, or bringing a puzzle, crochet kit, or guitar can all help fill the areas where you might have some downtime. Since you are not in the comfort of your home, you might become anxious, and having familiar outlets and activities can help distract you from the feeling of being away from home.
Practice saying “no.” Using a firm “no” when other vacationers, bartenders, or friends offer you a drink can help diffuse any dangerous thoughts. Further, vacationing with people who put your recovery needs first can also help your defense strategy to get yourself away from a dangerous situation. Your recovery is the priority; therefore, it is crucial to set boundaries to protect your sobriety if you are vacationing with others. If you are traveling alone, have a call list prepared of friends, family, peers, and professionals such as a counselor or therapist who will help you out of any potentially harmful situation.
Vacationing is a fun experience that helps you relax and unwind from the stresses of everyday life. However, vacationing responsibly and keeping your recovery in check takes some work. If you are planning a vacation or struggling to take on new challenges in recovery, then the time to reach out for help is now. At Renaissance Ranch, we provide the settings needed to help men gain the necessary tools to overcome complex challenges in recovery. Our services go beyond the conventional approach to providing real-life scenarios appropriate to sustaining recovery in the real world. These settings give you the insight that there is so much adventure waiting for you that does not require substances as the focal point. Substances prevent you from finding the true purpose and meaning in life experiences. To begin your journey to finding the purpose and meaning in your life and the world around you, call us today at (801) 308-8898.