7 Sober Suggestions This Holiday Season

So here we are, in the final stretch of the holiday season, which brings with it, for most people, additional responsibilities, many opportunities to celebrate, and general chaos to the normal routine.  If you are in recovery, this is, without question, a trying time.  Although I am relatively new to sobriety (less than two years), I have had multiple opportunities to succeed in staying sober in the midst of alcohol-fueled merriment, so I thought I would write about the methods that have worked for me through holidays that not only allowed me to stay sober, but also provided me the means to enjoy the holidays in a way I had not previously done.  So without further ado, here are my top 7 tips for actually enjoying a sober holiday!

1.  Practice Self-Care

If you are like me, you are thinking, “Good idea, I’ll get to that after I bake some cookies, wrap some gifts, go shopping…”  Turn that thought process around!  The kind of self-care of which I am speaking must come before any of the holiday activities, and in practicing self-care all of those activities will become, if not enjoyable, then at the very least less stressful.  I am speaking of starting the day with a few minutes of getting centered.  For me, that means getting out of bed, getting down on my knees, and connecting with my Higher Power.  That’s what works for me, but a few minutes of any centering activity… meditation, simple deep breathing, thoughts of gratitude for all that is good in your life, and a commitment to yourself that you can make it through the day without picking up a drink or a drug, helps get the day off to a calm and peaceful start, and gives courage and confidence that the day can and will go well.  The last part of that process is so important, it becomes the next tip…

2.  Commit To Sobriety For One Day Only

And, of course, that one day must be the one you are in.  Remember, you don’t need to worry about staying sober for the next 30 years, just the current day.  So when your mind starts racing, ask yourself, “Can I stay sober, just for today?”  Chances are, the answer will be yes, so relax, and move on to…

3.  Organization

There are all types of helpful organizational tips for the holiday season, but the type of organization I refer to here is mental:  take some time to figure out all of the upcoming holiday drinking temptations, and then decide what you can and cannot do.  If you are early in sobriety, the less alcohol-filled social events you attend, the better off you are.  There were many events I simply turned down in my earliest days because I chose to put my sobriety first.  On the other hand, I have smaller children, and a large, Irish Catholic family, so there are always certain obligations that I feel I must attend, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling.  So step 2 is all about narrowing down the situations where you will be tempted, and then move on to…

4.  Set Your Parameters Within the Celebration

There is a multitude of ways to do this; the point of step three is to determine which will work best for your particular scenario.  Some examples include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • arriving late
  • leaving early
  • steering clear of the location of the alcohol
  • bringing a delicious virgin cocktail with you so you are enjoying a beverage
  • having a sober companion with you
  • figuring out who at the party will be like-minded in enjoying the party, rather than the beverages consumed at the party
  • keeping your cell phone in your pocket with a list of sober supports to call
  • disclosing to a few or all of the guests your intention to be sober

And I’m sure there are many more options, so take some time before the start of the party to decide which ones will be most effective.  And of all the ideas on that list, one stands out…

5.  Stick With The Winners

This has been a particularly beneficial strategy for me personally.  Again, I come from a large Irish Catholic family (read:  heavy drinkers), so at first I believed I would never again enjoy a family gathering.  As I gained some sober clarity, I realized that while the majority of my family drinks, not everyone does, and of those that do, only a small handful over-indulge.  So I started looking more closely at the non-drinkers, and even the moderate ones, and guess what I realized?  They are having just as much fun, and, I would assume, feel a hell of a lot better in the morning.  Chances are, whatever drinking celebration you are attending, there are many such people… choose to spend time with them.  And, while you’re at it…

6.  Act As If

Find someone who is not drinking and is also having a good time.  What are they doing, and how can you be like them?  For me, I found that they are usually much more interested in conversation and people than they are in the beverage they are consuming, and when I emulated them, not only did it take my mind off alcohol, I was able to actually have fun!  Take a look around, find some sober (and if you really can’t find sober, then at least someone who is a moderate drinker) people, and do what they do.  Last, and most important…

7.  Stay In The Present

This can be the most challenging for me, but has the most benefit when I put it into practice.  Stop thinking about the last holiday when you got trashed and embarrassed yourself, stop worrying about 4 hours from now when everyone is slurring your words and how you are going to handle it, stay in the actual moment:  you are at a party with family and/or friends, celebrating a festive season.  I’m sure that wherever you are is beautifully decorated, there are probably loads of great food choices, and many opportunities for interesting discussion.  Perhaps there are children around, observe the fun and joy they are experiencing, engage with them and see if you their joy isn’t contagious.  Keep coming back to this every time your mind wanders to the bar, and I know it will help you have a joyous holiday.

So those are my “Best of”  for sober holiday success.  What’s on your sober checklist?

Today’s Miracle:

The realization that I have a sober checklist, and the hope that sharing mine helps someone else.

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Posted on December 19, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. This is a great post…. especially for me who is new to sobriety. Its simple too… THanks!

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  2. Reblogged this on momma bee and commented:
    Great blog post today on sober suggestions for the holiday season. This was helpful for me to read and I wanted to share!

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  3. This is a great list Josie! I love that you put self care at the top, I think that is really the key for me. If I am taking the time to take care of me and make sure that I am connected and eating well and sleeping enough, well that alone can make things much better! Thank you so much… I think I need to get to bed a bit earlier tonight. Lol.

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  4. Yes this is fantastic. I especially love number 6.. that’ll get you through the hours that you are forced into socializing and the rest of the time it’s all about number 1 baby. Great stuff xxx

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  5. Fabulous list, Josie! I was working on some newsletters for my old treatment center (it’s a side job), and I have been immersed in holiday related recovery stuff, and this would have been a great addition (Christy had some good stuff do, as did Mr. Sponsor Pants). Having said all that, I didn’t have much of a hard time at holiday season. I drank less usually on those days – let the “amateurs” have their day in the sun…lol. Certainly in the early days of recovery I had to just avoid anything and everything with alcohol. I can understand it being tough for many of us. So having some solid guidelines and healthy options and choices is critical! And you’ve outlined so many important things here. As you mentioned, having an exit plan is probably the most important.

    Happy holidays, Josie!!

    Blessings and hugs
    Paul

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    • Exit plan is key, and that one was key for me last night. I said to my husband, around 11 pm, the following words: “I think the mood is turning at this party.” We were up and out of there within 10 minutes (and, you have to understand, hugging and kissing in my family takes a ridiculously long time!). But you know, I have been at this long enough to see the signs when the drinking is going in the “sloppy” direction, and that’s when I need to be out. And the holiday was a beautiful thing!

      Thanks, Paul! I hope the vinaigrette was delish!

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  6. Great list! I really needed to hear some of these. Thank you and happy holidays to you and your family!

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  7. Thanks for all these great ideas…

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  8. My personal favorite: “arrive late, leave early”
    Merry Christmas my beautiful friend. All my love to you and your loved ones. You’ve brought so much joy to my life this past year. And, excitedly I say, “you have an anniversary next month” You grow so fast, how time flies. xoxoxoxox me

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