‘Tis The Season For The Sober Holidays Survival Guide

Oh, what can be said about the wonderful holiday season!? It’s stressful. It’s demanding, it’s exhausting. It sure can be a challenge in sobriety! But it is nothing compared to the way I used to spend my holiday season… drunk and miserable.

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This year especially, I seem to have many memory bubbles of the holidays past. It’s not a bad thing at all, they just remind me of how far I have come in my journey. Wow, was that really me? It’s hard to believe it! When I look back I can totally see the craziness of my addiction! I was so completely consumed by my disease that nothing else mattered.

I have that great memory of spending one Thanksgiving day at the local bar, after telling my family that I was severely sick and just couldn’t make it out of bed. I remember the bar was pretty empty. I spent the time talking to strangers and watching football, and drinking beer after beer. I actually though that this was just great and I was a bad ass! Ha! And next day I was surly “sick” with a massive hangover!

There was also that one Christmas that I drank port wine with my dad, and somehow got drunk (somehow…)! I ended up in a blackout for most of the day and I don’t remember much but some bits and pieces. I do remember waking up really early the next morning, horribly riddled with shame and guilt, I snuck-out the door before anyone got up. No one ever talked about that incident.

And there was that other Christmas that I took a bus to my parents’ house, because I lost my license after my DUI. This might have been a perfect time to stay home and get drunk, but I was so determined to keep up appearances, that I found a way to get to their house, some 45 miles away. That’s right, I took a train, and a bus, and a taxi! Then satisfied with my successful mission, I got drunk.

Oh… and there are more, but I don’t want to waste any more space here with those memories.

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Today I have new memories. Sobriety gave me new life and a new perspective. It gave me holidays spent with family, laughing and hugging. It has made me focus on the important things in life, like family. Even giving presents has become a new ritual; I no longer focused on the appearances, and I am free to chose the gifts that really matter. It can still be stressful but the best part is that my drinking no longer adds to it! These days I get involved, step in, and help out! This keeps me busy and my mind occupied.

So if your struggling a bit or even a lot this season, I hope that you give sobriety a good chance. It sure can be a difficult time to get through, but let me tell you, hold on and keep sober, you will be glad that you did!

Here are a few of my suggestion on keeping sober through the holiday season:

Come prepared! All those holiday parties can be very stressful especially to a non-drinker. Don’t go if you don’t absolutely have too. Especially in early sobriety this can be soo difficult – you don’t need that kind of monumental stress. But… if you chose to go:

  • Always have a drink with you, non-alcoholic of course, to avoid offers from others.
  • Arrange for support buddy that you can text or call when the pressure gets overwhelming.
  • Take mini breaks and often. You can go outside or sit in the bathroom, and breathe, letting the stress out as you exhale.
  • Have an escape plan – when it gets way to stressful, leave! You can say that you’re not feeling well or have to go to another event.
  • Check out my post 10 Ways to Stay Sober at Drinking Events for more tips.

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When cravings hit, run the tape through. Even if you are fantasizing about having just 1 drink, you would most likely not be able to have just 1! You know this, yet your mind will try to convince you that this time it will be different! And yeah, you might feel better for a bit, but you may also end up getting drunk and making a big pass of yourself in front of your family or friends, thus adding to the stress of it all! Then the next day, you would be overtaken with guilt and shame and possibly drink again to numb those feelings. And then the cycle of addiction will be awaken and it would be even harder to get back to sobriety.

If you really can’t relax, and you absolutely cannot leave, what works wonders for me is to tell myself that this is just one day out of my life, I can do this for just this day! I can stay sober today and see how I feel tomorrow. Most likely the next day I will feel better, and I will feel even better because I stayed sober!

Here are a few ideas that help me survive the holidays sober:

  • Let go of perfectionism. No one, and I mean not a single person in the world is perfect! It is OK to be imperfect.
  • Accept things as they are, neither good or bad. The less judgement you place on a situation the better you will be able to deal with it.
  • Focus on the moment and do not project. When we project how things are going to be, they almost always happen just like we projected.
  • Don’t take anything personally. This is huge, when we are in our heads and internalizing everyone’s behavior, that they don’t like us, that they don’t want us around, that we embarrass them, we are the only ones hurting. The fact is that even if they feel that way, those are their feelings, not ours.
  • Remember that we are all different people. And when we throw bunch of different people together it’s almost inevitable for tensions to raise. But that doesn’t mean that we have to get upset and we do not have to take their crap on and make it ours.

And lastly, be positive and enjoy yourself! After all that’s what the season is all about right!? And stay connected! Keep writing, keep reading and keep sharing. We all are in this together and together is how we can get through it, and stay sober!


If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at sobercourage@gmail.com.

You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. waking up says:

    Wow, what a brilliant post! I will definitely be printing this one out to keep handy! Your tips on getting through the festive season could be applied to so many areas of life, I’m sure. Thank you for sharing your valuable insight, and for the words of encouragement!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I appreciate it. Of course these are also reminders for myself! Lol! I got a pretty dysfunctional family and there is bound to be some drama. And yes these are definitely good life tips too, because there are also reunions and bdays and vacations! But somehow the holidays always win out to be the most “interesting”! Lol!
      Hang in and have a great Thanksgiving!

      Like

  2. 🙂 Thanks for the post. I am happy with not having a big family the pressure of ‘The holidays’ is do-able I am assuming.

    PS: is that litle you in the My first Christmas hat? So cute! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! I don’t have a big family either, but somehow… there is always some drama! I just have to stay out of it. 🙂

      Ps. Awww, that’s so sweet! It’s actually a picture of my son when he was 8months old. Nana insisted on getting him all dressed up! Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. m4ndie says:

    This post is great- this is my first holiday sober and I’m thinking it will be hard, but I’ve already been sober three weeks and love it, I’m just hoping the alcohol all around me doesn’t affect me too much. I may print this article up and read it when I feel stressed while I’m there. That’s for this brilliant share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats on 3 weeks! Woot woot! Yes, it maybe hard to be around alcohol – very tempting, I like comparing it to being in a doughnut shop while on a diet, right? But you can definitely get through it! Keep in mind why you quit drinking and what it was like when you were drinking, and if you start again it will be just the same as before and maybe worse. If you stay sober, life will get better and better, for sure!

      Hang in! You can do this! Hugs.

      Like

  4. k2running says:

    Thank you for this great post! I wild be sure to refer to the great tips over the next month. I have a large, fun family who enjoy drinking, fortunately they respect me and the program and the journey I am on. I know when and what to do if a situation or environment gets “hairy”. I have even tuned down a few invites because I know its more than I can handle at this point in my sobriety. I am willing to do anything to protect my sobriety, because without it, I got nothing!!
    😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! That’s a great attitude! I feel the same way – what ever it takes to stay sober, that’s what I do. And I can make these lists forever but if I am not actually doing these things than it just doesn’t matter. But, if I put sobriety first, then I always succeed.

      Thank you for stopping by! Have a great Thanksgiving! Hugs.

      Like

  5. losingandhealing says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is my first sober holiday season and I’m already a bit anxious about it all.
    Thanks for the tips and advice!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome! The first can be hard, but you can do this! Stay positive and grateful. And if you just believe then you’re half way there. Hugs! 🙂

      Like

  6. mallards4us says:

    Great post, thank you…holidays will be hard sober. But, for me it’s not the actual gathering (as my family doesn’t drink much)- its after the gathering and the emotions that come with family crap. Blah. This Will be my first holidays sober too. Hoping to get through them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s hard too. My family is pretty dysfunctional. We are all over the place(and I don’t mean physically!) and then all it takes is for my dad throw one of his “inapropriate” comments and it all goes to hell! Lol! I guess it’s sort of predictable so maybe that’s good, I can be ready for that. He he. But really it can be draining, right. Hang it though. I know you can get through this. Sending may hugs.

      Like

  7. Lisa Neumann says:

    I love all the tips. I needed to read this today. I know for me that some quiet time with Creator/Love is super important because it allows me to recognize the beauty that is within me. I take that beautiful girl to the holiday (not the bi*ch). I love mallards4us comment too. It’s not the drinking that gets me. It’s the other tacit communication that wears me down. I have to shore up. Wait …. I choose to shore up and go and be beautiful. Thanks for this much appreciated post. xox Lisa

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lisa! Oh I know what you mean. I spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws who are also in recovery and Xmas is at my house and we don’t serve alcohol so that piece is gone but… there sure is lots of other crap! Lol! I think I often put it on myself with the perfectionism and projecting. I found that if I just let things be as they are I am better off.

      I love the quiet time with the creator piece too. Thank you for the reminder. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ruby Browne says:

    This is my first sober Thanksgiving. It feels super weird because I used to declare my it as my favorite holiday because, “It’s socially acceptable to just drink…all day.” I’m super nervous even though we’ve decided to spend it at home, just the two of us. I guess it’s the last great hurdle. The last, “I’ve never done that sober.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right! The holidays did feel sort of special because it was socially acceptable to drink all day for me too. Like I felt it was the day I could just drink like I normally do not around my family. So I thought it was ok cause everyone else was drinking all day too. But you know then I would end up shitfaced and turn into that person! Ugh. So in the end it wasn’t so great.

      Hang in. Stay connected and in the moment! Sending hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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