Seeking Recovery throughout the Holidays and Progression in the New Year

Time Turning
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A guest post by Sydney Barrera, RD, LDN, and SunCloud Health’s Director of Nutritional Services 

Much like how the holiday celebrations look different for each individual, so too are everyone’s recovery journeys also unique. Overall, the holidays call for an interruption of regular schedules, and this can be unnerving to those in recovery who have worked hard to heal and progress. There is also the added difficulty of treatment programs not running as usual due to reduced office hours for the holidays.  

While there is no one way to avoid regression during the holidays, here we provide helpful, practical resources that will ease the minds of those worried about a relapse in recovery while also offering advice on achieving for progression this holiday season. Read on to learn more about what you can do to prepare yourself for healing and meeting your goals in the new year.  

The Difficulties of Recovery during the Holidays  

The holidays can quickly go from a time to relax and connect with loved ones, to a hurried and stressful couple of months that pose some common behavioral health challenges. With changes in normal life routines, including limited access to regular care due to office closures, it’s common for many individuals receiving mental health care to experience heightened anxiety or worsened symptoms. Creating sustainable and realistic self-care practices, such as setting firm boundaries or taking time alone away from the chaos of an event, can empower you to show up as your best self for the holidays. Navigate the season with support and grace for yourself, and you’ll find a renewed sense of self and gratitude as you enter into the new year. 

For people actively in recovery, having a plan to navigate social events and potential feelings is paramount. Incorporating treatment and self-exploration into your holidays is the best gift you could give to yourself or help provide access to those you love.  

How to Prevent Regression in One’s Recovery Journey  

Aside from these initial ways to prevent regression in recovery, it’s important to remember the power of self-care. While being away from regular treatment appointments, you still have the power to be gracious with yourself and do acts that will help you recharge and find holistic healing. For example, while the days are shorter during the holiday season, schedule times to rest. By implementing a regular sleep schedule, the mind and body will be sustained through challenging times.  

Here are a few other ways to implement self-care activities into your holiday plans:  

  • Read a new book or re-read an old favorite series 
  • Watch lighthearted holiday movies  
  • Schedule a massage 
  • Give yourself a facial  
  • Practice yoga  
  • Journal  
  • Move your body  
  • Bake some festive treats
  • Make time to connect with family and friends  

While free time may be more common in this season, don’t feel pressured to overbook yourself in that free time. Set boundaries with friends and family to allow yourself time to care for your needs. Remember that taking the time to care for yourself will set you up for a successful recovery and more memorable holidays to come.  

How to Make Healthy Goals for the New Year  

Many people set resolutions this time of year. Those resolutions may be to enter or continue making progress in mental health treatment, to tackle physical or mental obstacles in their path to success, or any other goals designed to help better their lives. Creating goals for ourselves no matter how small, is a great way to help us strive to better ourselves in the future. The act of goal setting brings hope and aspiration and gives us a vision of achieving great things. However, it’s important to set realistic and attainable goals for ourselves, in order to be able to reap the full benefit of having goals. This year, instead of creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions that are near impossible to accomplish come the end of January, utilize the “S.M.A.R.T. Goals” technique to set healthy, attainable, and adjustable goals.  

What are “S.M.A.R.T. Goals”?  

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that provides guidelines on how to set healthy goals. Follow the guidelines below to create your own S.M.A.R.T goal today:   


Here, write out what your goal is and be specific. Answer these questions to help with this step:  

  • What do you want to accomplish?  
  • What new habit would you like to form?  
  • What actions do you want to take?  


It’s important for a goal to be measurable so you can self-monitor your progress. For example, if your goal is to walk more, you would measure the goal by the amount of miles you walked per week. If your goal is to journal more, you would measure how often you journal or how many pages you write.  

Think of how you can measure the goal you are setting for yourself.  


Be sure, while you are setting goals for yourself, that they are realistic to your abilities. It’s best to start small, so you know you can achieve your goals. You can always set higher goals to attain after accomplishing this initial one. Making sure to set attainable goals helps motivate and inspire goal-setters toward making it a reality.  


Is this new goal relevant to other goals you have? How will achieving this goal help you in your life overall?  

By creating a goal that both challenges you and aligns with your mental health treatment plan, you will find yourself recovering stronger and faster than before.  


Having a timeframe helps goal-setters stay motivated. Estimate a timeframe to achieve this goal, and place a date on the calendar a month or so out with plans to check in with yourself and this goal to monitor your progress. Remember, it is always adjustable if you realize you need to allow more or less time for yourself as you begin working toward your goal. 

By starting with smaller, simpler goals you can learn to use this method well and apply it to more challenging goals you may have in mind for yourself. If you are unsure of where to start, try to start by establishing one new healthy habit for yourself and layer new habits every two weeks that will align with your overall goals. Treat goal setting like a marathon race: before running a marathon, you must first train by running smaller amounts at a time.  

It’s important to set healthy goals, but it is even more important to be patient with yourself as you grow and achieve these goals. Remember “perfection” is not the goal and healing is not linear. There is no shame in resetting goals three months after setting them. 

What SunCloud Can Do 

SunCloud Health is unique in its ability to provide both in-person programming, as well as telehealth options allowing you to access a wide range of services including Psychiatry, Individual therapy, nutritional mindfulness as well as peer support. 

No matter where you are this holiday season, SunCloud is here to support you.  

The professionals at SunCloud Health are here to help support you in your recovery journey. In utilizing our counseling services, you will be provided with many more resources that are customized to your mental health needs.  

At SunCloud, there are various programs to meet the unique needs of individuals. No matter your background or condition, SunCloud associates will meet you where you are and create a custom treatment plan that will promote mental health recovery, eating disorder recovery, and overall healing.  

Now is the time to set goals for yourself for the New Year, let us help guide you toward the life of healing you deserve.  

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit: