Sobriety gave me a 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 my family. Today, I focus on creating new holiday memories. Even giving presents has become a new ritual; I no longer focus 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.
Sometimes, the hardest thing about sober celebrations is feeling like you are alone. It can be difficult to spend time with family or friends when you cannot celebrate in the same ways, so I think it is important to take the time to find a good support network. Also realistic expectations are important. No celebration will be the picture-perfect example of what a sober holiday should be.
So if you are struggling a bit or even lots 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. Do not go if you do not absolutely have too. Especially in early sobriety this can be soo difficult – you do not 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 take them 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 are 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.
- Connect to an online support! Check out the list of many support websites HERE, or check out this list of recovery podcasts HERE.
When cravings hit, run the memory tape through. Even if you are fantasizing about having just 1 drink, you would most likely not be able to have just one! 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 ass of yourself in front of your family or friends, thus adding to the stress of it all! Then the next day, you would be riddled with guilt and shame and possibly drink again to numb those feelings. Then the cycle of addiction will be awaken and it would be even harder to get back to sobriety.
If you really cannot 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, and 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 also 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 do not like us, that they do not 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 is almost inevitable for tensions to raise. But that does not mean that we have to get upset, and we do not have to take their crap on and make it ours.
Volunteer! Many local charities are usually in need of an extra hand during the holidays when they hand out food, sort clothing or provide support systems to those in need. In fact, if you would rather spend time in a soup kitchen than around the family dinner table, invite your family to join you. Working together to help others is a great way to bond.
And lastly, be positive and enjoy yourself! After all that is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.