Woohoo, it's Christmas Eve Eve and the holiday season is in full swing. For those of you who are newly sober, already have some sober years under your belt, or are still on the fence about trying sobriety, this list is for you. The holidays should be a wonderful and joyous time for serenity, gratefulness, and being with your family and friends. This means you can still have a great time without getting wasted and here's how:
1. Be prepared
We all know the holidays are filled with parties and places where alcohol and drugs are present. The holidays can get you feeling all sentimental and nostalgic. It's important that you don't start yearning for those drunk days or slip back into an unhealthy routine just because you're home for Christmas and old friends are around. Be prepared to deal with cravings. Be prepared to deal with feelings of discomfort and questioning. Family and friends may ask why you're doing this sober thing and your answer can be simple: my life works better this way.
2. Have an escape plan
After you emotionally prepare yourself for anything, you should physically prepare yourself with an escape plan. If you ever feel uncomfortable, or are in a place where drugs and alcohol having you feeling awkward, get out of there, STAT! It's not worth it! There is no shame in backing out or "ghosting" out of a party or get-together because you feel like you might do something you may regret later. Don't worry about what others will say, just get out of there!
3. Have someone to call
Whoever your support system may be - sponsors, meeting list numbers, AA hotlines, friends, family - make sure you have their phone numbers at the ready. You should always have someone you can talk it out with. It always makes me feel better to acknowledge my feelings when they arise and after talking with someone, I know everything is going to be ok.
4. Indulge in some mocktails
There is nothing better than a big tall glass of sparkling water in a fancy glass with a lemon wedge! When you're getting ready for your holiday parties make sure you bring something special just for you. A delicious mocktail or non-alcoholic beer perhaps? You deserve it!
5. Always have a good book
This might sound weird, but whenever I am bored, uncomfortable, lonely - I can always find solace in a good book. Maybe that book for you is the big book, or maybe it's a novel, or a drinking memoir. You never know when you'll need just a momentary escape from your life. A book can give you that. I always have one or two in my purse, tucked away for whenever I may need it.
6. Learn to say "No"
I can't emphasize this one enough. It's hard when you're a people pleaser and even more so when you can't hide behind the shield of alcohol. There is nothing wrong with putting your recovery first. You can turn down a party, a holiday shindig, or even a certain dinner if you feel like it will negatively impact your mood or sobriety. Ask yourself, is this worth it?
7. Don't forget to exercise
The holidays are filled with delicious meals, baked goods, candy, and other Christmas goodies. If you're like me and you feel like you deserve chocolate because you don't drink booze, you will want to remember to exercise. Aside from being good for your figure, exercise does wonders for your mental health. A clear head and a clear heart will keep you on your sober "A game" this year.
8. Write out a gratitude list
Write down every single thing you're grateful for. Keep track of everything amazing sobriety has given you, or if you're just getting sober - write down the changes you've noticed thus far and the goals you plan to achieve. It's good to see all the great things that come along with sobriety written down on paper. It will remind you of what you have and what you don't want to lose.
9. Plan your holidays
Sometimes they say don't let yourself get "hungry, sleepy, or bored," and by they I mean people at meetings. They say this because these types of uncomfortable feelings can lead to thoughts about drinking and desire to fill the void. To make sure you don't get into this type of situation, you should try to plan out your holidays as much as you can. Make plans to see your friends and family, set out time for shopping, meetings, and hobbies. Keeping busy = staying happy and sober!
10. Go easy on yourself
Last, but not least... go easy on yourself! Don't get down on yourself if you have to leave a party or avoid certain friends or family for your own piece of mind. You have to be honest with yourself about your own recovery and where you are. Being comfortable in certain settings or environments will come with time. Like anything in life, don't set goals you can't achieve. Take it one day at a time and do the best you can for you.
Take this list with you over the next few weeks - if you're beginning your sobriety journey or if you just want reinforcement during the difficult holiday season. Always remember you are never alone in your sobriety! There are thousands of people out there just like you and me staying sober and working through their own addictive behaviors. I hope these tips will help you stay sober during the holidays and all year long! Happy Holidays my friends!