For some, holidays can be a stressful time. For others, they can be a time of celebration. Either way, for people in recovery, staying sober during the holidays may present a challenge.
As with everything in life, there are certain coping mechanisms and tips that can make this time of year easier for those of us who no longer drink. I am currently in my third sober holiday season, and each one has gotten easier. Along the way, I have come up with my own way of dealing with being around others who drink and feeling frustrated by this.
Here are 7 tips to keep you sober during the holidays.
1. Have a mocktail.
This is my favorite. Go out and buy everything you need to make a kicka*s drink, sans alcohol, fancy glasses and all. My mom will make these for me occasionally when I am home, and it is so appreciated. That way I don’t feel like the odd one out. Sure, I’m not drinking alcohol, but drinking a colorful, fun drink is more appealing than sipping on water all day. There are many mocktail recipes out there, including holidays ones. Embrace the wonders of Google.
2. Be straight up with your family and friends.
Maybe some people are not comfortable with this, but I’ve found that my life is so much easier when the people around me know that I do not drink. That way they don’t offer and I am not faced with that temptation. So many people will be understanding and considerate of your choices when you give them the chance.
3. Know what you are getting into, and plan accordingly.
The other day my boss pulled me aside to ask if I was OK with one of the company outings being during a happy hour. This is perfectly fine with me, but for some it may not be. It’s important to know your limits and know where temptation will be strong. That way, you can politely decline offers. Or, if you think you can handle it you can at least prepare ahead of time.
4. Avoid places or people that make you feel uncomfortable.
When you plan ahead, you have the ability to avoid places or people that may present temptation. When you have a gut feeling that something wouldn’t be good for you, trust that intuition. You likely know yourself well enough to know what and who to avoid.
5. Have a back-up plan.
If you do somehow get into a situation in which you feel temptation, have someone to call who you know will understand and will talk you down. For some this may be a sponsor, and for others, a family member or friend. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as you know someone will be there to remind you why you are sober.
6. Remind yourself what the holidays are really about.
Hint: they’re not about alcohol and they’re not about parties. Sure, those may be a prominent part for certain people, but the holidays are about spending time with the people you love and who love you. When you are surrounded by these people, it shouldn’t matter whether or not you can drink. When people love you, they love you – with or without alcohol.
7. And last but not least, take a deep breath and remind yourself why you got sober in the first place.
When I get frustrated or have a find myself wanting to have a pity party, all I need to do is think back to the way my life way when I was actively drinking and I lose the urge to drink. Self-reflecting can work wonders.
Written by: Beth Leipholtz