Spirituality and the Holidays

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

horse-430441_640The holiday season often brings a sense of hustle that can be exhausting – even overwhelming at times. During a time of year where much is demanded of an individual – emotionally, physically, and mentally – it can be hard to keep up on a daily basis without experiencing burnout.

If you or your loved one is in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the holidays can be an especially trying time. How can you ensure that you are filling yourself up regularly to keep your recovery fortified?

Practicing spirituality can be an important aspect of wellness as well as a motivating factor for sustaining recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. What exactly is spirituality, and how can this become an integral part of one’s life?

How Does Each Person Define Spirituality?

Spirituality can be defined as “that which gives meaning to one’s life and draws one to transcend oneself” [1]. Expressions of spirituality might include meditation, prayer, and the practice of having a relationship with God or a higher power.

For some individuals, this might involve following a particular religion. For others, this may be the belief in something greater than oneself, practicing mindfulness, or taking the time to meditate on spiritual principles and ideals.

Spirituality’s Role in Recovery

grass-477932_640How can spirituality be a helpful part of the recovery process from addiction? Research has shown numerous benefits, including sustained abstinence.

One research study found a significant connection between spirituality and addiction, identifying that relapsing individuals have considerably lower levels of spirituality than those in recovery [2].

The practice of spirituality can be a tremendous motivating factor for addiction recovery success. This may be because people are looking to something greater than themselves, and an increased level of faith and spiritual devotion may bring renewed hope and perseverance for recovery.

Help During the Holiday Season

How can the component of spirituality be helpful during the holiday season? For many individuals who are working to uphold their recovery, the holidays can be a challenging time.

This could be due to a multitude of reasons, such as:

  • Increased social stressors
  • External pressures from family or friends
  • Heightened anxiety or depression
  • Situations that trigger old habits and behaviors

Various practices of spirituality can bring a sense of hope and peace during a time that can feel chaotic or stressful. Integrating elements of spirituality can also be helpful for maintaining positivity, which is a necessary component of lasting recovery.

Integrating Spirituality into Your Life

During this holiday season, or any period in your life where you are feel overwhelmed or burnt out, consider integrating a component of spirituality in your life through the following ways:

Practice meditation or mindfulness:

eye-277159_640Proactively taking time out from a hectic day to pause and reflect can be a tangible way to ground yourself during the busy holiday season. This can easily be done whether you are home or traveling and during any time of day.

You can tailor a mediation session to your liking, making it however short or long you need to regroup your thoughts or emotions. Meditation can involve focusing on a particular mantra you enjoy, such as a scripture or reading, or simply being reflective on aspects of your life that you are thankful for.


While this may look different among individuals, lifting requests to God or a higher power can be powerful aspect of spirituality. For many people, practicing prayer increases gratitude and positivity, which are both helpful aspects of the recovery journey.


Whether you are joining with other individuals who practice a similar religion or with fellow recovering addicts in a twelve-step group, connecting with others can be encouraging to you in your own journey.

Consider finding a church or support group with individuals that you feel like you can relate to, as the bonds you make with others will be a supportive part of your recovery.

Faith Towards Sustaining Recovery

Having hope and faith in something greater than yourself can be key to sustaining addiction recovery, especially during times that are challenging or stressful.

If you have not yet found a way to grow or develop spiritually, consider integrating one of the above suggestions in your life. You may find that as you grow spiritually, your own recovery is strengthened in the process.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How do you think spirituality can help someone who is in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction?


  1. Burkhardt, M. “Spirituality: An Analysis of The Concept,” Holistic Nursing Practice, May 1989:60-77
  2. Jarusiewicz, Betty PhD, CADC. Spirituality and Addiction: Relationship to Recovery and Relapse. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 2008. 18 (4), 2000.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 1st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.