Some posts may include affiliate links. For more info, please click here.
Like it or not, It’s that time of year again…the holidays are upon us. And for many, this might be the first round of holiday celebrations that you’re going through sober. The holidays tend to evoke a wide range of strong emotions. From happy childhood memories to sadness and grief from the loss of a loved one, to anxiety over seeing extended family that you might not get along with…Adding sobriety into the mix can make it seem like a challenging feat to get through the next day let alone the next month and half of holiday celebrations!
With slightly over 4 years of sobriety, I am heading into my 5th round of alcohol-free holidays. Here I will give tips to get through this joyous, yet overwhelming time of year with your sanity and sobriety intact.
Find a Support System
Don’t overthink it! This can be one trusted person…a close friend, spouse or family member. Find someone who knows you are sober and will provide a listening ear and accountability for you during this time. This person can also be a lifeline while navigating holiday parties as well. If they know you are attending an event, this person might send you a text after an hour or so to check in with you. If they are attending the gathering with you, create a secret phrase that lets them know it might be time for you to leave.
For me, this support person is my husband. He is on this journey with me and knows my limits and when I need to remove myself from certain situations. He is easily able to step in for me if he senses I am getting overwhelmed. If we are attending an event, he can sense when I am ready to go. It’s incredibly helpful to have someone in your corner that knows you are sober and will be able to help you navigate all the boozy social gatherings between now and New Years!
Which leads to the next tip….
Set Boundaries and Limits
There is nothing wrong with showing up late to a party and leaving early. On the other hand, sometimes it would be wise to show up on time to a gathering, chat and connect with others before the party starts getting too boozy, then plan for your exit. Also, don’t feel compelled to attend every single event you’ve been invited to. Be discerning with how much of your time you are giving to these events…Do you really have to show your face at your company’s weekly happy hour AND the company funded Christmas event the next day? Nope!
Setting boundaries with others who might not know you are sober may sound like “No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight. I have an important ____ (whatever feels best to insert here) tomorrow morning.”
And if someone is questioning why you aren’t drinking, it is your choice whether you want to share that you are sober, or not. That is your choice, and no meddling aunt, coworker, or not-so-close friend has any right to question why you aren’t drinking. Remember that!
I have found that using either of these two phrases work well with most people:
“I don’t drink” or “I don’t drink anymore.”
For those who are closer to me, very close friends and family members, I have been able to have chats with them about why I no longer drink, and they have all been very supportive! But for those I am not as close to, saying one of these quick phrases has been enough to stem off any prying questions.
Take Care of Yourself
While I cringe at the trendy overuse of the term self-care, I absolutely feel it is integral to our sobriety and the recovery process. With the holiday season being a major source of stress and overwhelm for many, self-care gives us the opportunity to ground ourselves.
Self-care comes in many forms and can range from costing absolutely nothing to splurging on a once-in-a-lifetime super fancy retreat.
Here are some ideas you can begin incorporating into your routine today:
Set aside time for a relaxing bubble bath. Listen to your favorite music or podcast. Go for a walk or run. Light your favorite candles and relax with a good book. Splurge on a massage or facial, or ask your spouse or partner to give you a back rub. (Be sure to offer to give them one at another time!) Apply calming lavender or invigorating eucalyptus essential oils to your temples or the back of your neck. Try meditation or grounding breath work, such as alternate nose breathing or 4-7-8 breathing technique. (Give this four minute breathing technique a try!) If nothing else, go to bed early! Find time to do something for yourself each day, no matter how small or trivial it may seem!
No matter what you choose, be present in the activity. Don’t stress about what else needs to be done, or what you forgot to finish up at work, or that awkward yet funny thing you said to your new neighbor. Being mindful and fully present will make the self-care activity even more enjoyable and beneficial for you.
For me, my self-care routine involves a sweat session. Moving my body helps me to clear my mind and grounds me after particularly hectic days.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and extend yourself grace during this season. It’s so easy to forgive others or give them a pass, but why not extend the same grace to yourself? You are doing some thing hard but it is so worth it! And remember there are many others, just like yourself celebrating the holidays sober. You are not alone and you can get through this!
How do you plan on protecting your sobriety (and sanity!) during this season?