5 Tips for Surviving Valentine's Day in Recovery

By The Fix staff 02/14/20

Valentine’s Day can be sweet, but it can also be triggering. Here's how to cope.

woman celebrating Valentine's Day
Self-care Is a great way to celebrate © Subbotina | Dreamstime.com

Love is in the air. Valentine's Day is an excuse to eat chocolate, buy flowers and celebrate your love, but it can also be an emotionally taxing and triggering holiday, especially for people who are in early recovery or treatment

Whether you are still working to repair a relationship damaged by addiction, loving someone who is struggling with substance misuse, or taking time to focus on yourself, Valentine’s Day can highlight everything that’s not ideal in your love life. 

This year, don’t let Valentine's Day bring you down. Instead, focus on these things that everyone in recovery or loving someone in recovery should remember this Valentine’s Day.

1. It's Okay to Opt Out

Establishing a new life in recovery is all about choosing what works for you, and stepping away from anything that doesn’t. If Valentine’s Day stresses you out, skip it. Avoiding advertising can be tricky, but give yourself permission to not engage with the day or the social pressure that it entails. Just like you can choose not to engages with people or places that you find triggering, you can choose not to participate in traditions that no longer serve you. If you were sober at the end of last year you’re probably familiar with establishing new holiday traditions. Bring that to Valentine's Day, too.

2. Early Recovery Is the Time to Focus on Yourself 

If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, you might feel unloved or unchosen. Instead of leaning into that feeling, challenge the internal narrative that is making you feel that way. Celebrate the fact that you are choosing to focus on yourself right now. There's a reason why 12-step traditions advocate for staying single during the first year of sobriety. Without the distraction of romantic love, you can do the work that will improve your relationship with yourself and make you a great partner in the future. Right now, you're building the foundation that will make you lucky in love in the future.

3. Love Is Love Is Love

Valentine’s Day tends to focus on romantic love, but you can expand the celebration to encompass all the love in your life. Consider this: you love yourself enough to go through the hard work of getting sober. Your recovery community loves you enough to support you through the ups and downs, and share what they’ve learned through their own journeys with you. Your friends and family (chosen or biological) love you enough to believe that this time, you’re going to stay sober for the long term. 

4. Self-Care Is a Great Way to Celebrate

Restaurants will be packed on Valentine’s Day, so why not skip out on the traditional celebrations to indulge in some self care? Start by doing the self-care that is taxing, but also important: go to a meeting, book a therapy appointment or talk to your sponsor about the challenges that Valentine’s Day holds for you. Then, move on to self-care that is more fun: get a massage, walk on the beach or bake something delicious, just for you. 

5. You're Not Alone 

There are thousands of people celebrating Valentine's Day sober, with or without romantic partners. If you're feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, meet up with some other people who are in a similar situation. Sober meetups spring up every Valentine’s Day, bringing people together around good food and a celebration of recovery. Check out what sober Valentine’s Day activities are happening in your area. If you can’t find any, make you’re own by organizing a trip to a museum, bowling alley or favorite hiking destination.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day sober can be challenging, but reframing the holiday and establishing new, healthy traditions will mean that next year, celebrating Valentine's Day sober will be easier. 

Asana Recovery offers residential and outpatient treatment in Costa Mesa, California. Learn more by calling 949-438-4504.

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