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Tips For Staying Sober During The Holidays
Champagne toasts and high school reunions at bars. Rich microbrews and classy wines with your favorite aunt. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas Eggnog and New Years’ Eve bashes, the holidays are filled with merriment, family, joyousness, and drinking. Even if life is great, the holidays make drinking look like a lot of fun, even for the grizzled person who’s been sober for years.
However, the holidays can also be tough, especially for those who are new to sobriety and recovery. Beginning with Thanksgiving, the holiday season stretches over six weeks, and it presents unique obstacles and emotional upheavals. Friends, family, food, and parties, the holidays can be a difficult time for any sober person.
For some, we are away from family for the first time, and it kills us to be away from our families. For others, it means going back home where we did a lot of our drinking and using damage. Whether you’re newly sober or have gone years without a drink, staying sober over the holidays can be more enjoyable, less frustrating, and the best you’ve ever had.
Here are our tips to help you have a happy, healthy and sober holiday season.
Have a Plan
People are creatures of habit. The holiday season breaks up routine. If you go on vacation or a trip back home, you’ve been uprooted and separated from your sober routine. If you have friends or family come to visit, your routine is similarly thrown off because now you have to “entertain” guests.
Take the time to plan your days to take care of yourself. If you go to 12-step meetings, check the schedules before you leave and decide on which meetings you will go to, no matter what. Set reminders to call people from your support system and hold each other accountable.
Keep Your Morning Ritual
For many people, sober or not, morning routines are important for happiness. Research shows that morning routines help us be more productive during the day and decreases stress. No matter what morning meditation you have, make sure to continue practicing it during the holiday frenzy. With the rest of your schedule thrown off, how you wake up and spend the first 30 minutes of your day are always available to nourish your soul.
Go to Holiday Parties (with a plan)
If it’s a holiday party that you know there will be a lot of drinking, plan to only go for a short time. It’s always easier to stay sober if you bring a friend who doesn’t drink, too. When you arrive, grab a non-alcoholic drink like a cranberry soda or ice tea. Fewer people ask if you’re drinking if you’re already holding a beverage. If you start feeling uncomfortable or anxious, it’s okay to leave. Have fun but take care of yourself, first and foremost.
Connect with Supportive People
Spend time with those who support you in your recovery. Make time for friends old and new who support you in living a healthier, happier lifestyle. If you go to meetings regularly, don’t stop just because it’s the holidays. If you are out of town, make a list of five people to call every day who have been supportive.
Know when to say, “No” or “Yes”
You go to a holiday party and are bombarded with an open bar of your favorite liquor. You are invited to go skiing for the first time but are afraid. Your old friends want you to celebrate with them at an old hangout. What do you do?
Saying yes to new opportunities in life is a good thing. Saying Yes! to life stimulates positivity and creates opportunity. Saying “No,” in contrast, is often a fear response. No is a survival mechanism. Yes is a mindset for thriving. Saying yes to life will make you more positive. Saying yes to trying a new meditation, a new food, a new gym, a new meeting, are choices that have unexpected benefits.
However, when you say no to alcohol or drugs, you are exercising the strength of experience. The power of no, when it is used wisely is a tool of integrity and authenticity. For someone in recovery, saying no to a drink is courageous; it is difficult; it is positive. These kinds of no’s reveal a self-responsibility that you should be proud of.
Say yes to life and say no to what will harm you.
The Holidays Are about Gratitude
“A grateful heart will never get loaded.” These words have stood the test of time. No matter what you do for the holidays, you can practice gratitude. Make a list of things you are grateful for, especially for the people who have helped you recover from alcoholism. The holidays are a time for giving thanks for the many blessings in the world.
If the holidays are especially difficult for you this year, double down on gratitude. Volunteer your time at food drives for the needy. Call the ones you love and tell them you are grateful for their place in your life. Write gratitude lists daily. Meditate and pray constantly. You’ll get through this better than you could have thought.