The holidays are upon us, and we've all heard the same old tips for staying sober. "Stay busy," "find another activity to take your mind off of drinking," and so on. These are great pieces of advice that can really help people in recovery maintain their sobriety through the holiday season—but they're not enough. Recovery is a process that takes time, effort and commitment, and everyone's experience will be different depending on their individual needs and circumstances. So here are seven tips that we've collected with our network to stay sober over the years:
Create a list of holiday survival tips.
Try making a list of holiday survival tips. You can create this list on your own, or you can meet with a counselor to help you come up with ideas that might work for you. If you have been in recovery for a while and have already tried many strategies for staying sober during the holidays, it's important that you include those ideas on your list as well. And don't be afraid to add new strategies if they come up!
Here are some examples from past clients:
Avoid places where you associate drinking with happy times. This can be tricky, as a lot of people's memories are tied up in certain places, but try to limit yourself to places that are not associated with alcohol. If you're tempted to drink at home, try going out instead—you'll get the benefit of socializing without having to worry about temptation.
Avoid people who drink. When you're around people who drink regularly, it can be difficult not to feel pressured into doing so yourself; even if they aren't trying to influence your behavior directly (e.g., by saying things like “Come on! Just one drink won't hurt”), the presence of alcohol can put its own pressure on your sobriety and make it harder for you to resist temptation later on when everyone else is drinking heavily but still looking at their phone rather than conversing with each other face-to-face (or even just being present).
Avoid activities associated with drinking—for example, if you usually go out dancing after work every Friday night, try something else instead: go hiking or watch Netflix while eating popcorn instead!
Take things one day at a time.
One of the most important things that you can do to stay sober is to focus on today. Be present and enjoy what's happening right now, rather than worrying about tomorrow or dreading yesterday. It's easy to get caught up in planning events, thinking about what might happen if you drink or use again, and wishing that everything was different than it is. But these thoughts are just distractions—they don't help you stay sober or move forward with your growth as an individual.
You can't avoid the holidays entirely, but you can plan ahead to help avoid drinking. For example:
If you have a party, plan to arrive late or early enough that no one will be pressuring you to drink while they're drinking. You'll also have time to find your friends and let them know what's going on before they get distracted by other things.
If a friend is having an alcohol-free event because of their own sobriety, ask if it would be okay for you to bring some non-alcoholic beverages and snacks—this way everyone knows that there are options available for people who want them! It might even inspire someone else at the party who doesn't usually drink much (or at all) to try out some new things!
Get in touch with your emotions.
When the holidays roll around, it’s easy to get swept up in the festivities. We hang lights and stockings, throw parties and share meals with friends and family. But if you’re struggling with sobriety during this time of year, it can be hard to enjoy yourself or celebrate like everyone else. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help stay sober through the holidays:
Get in touch with your emotions. Do some self-reflection by asking yourself why you feel strongly about certain things (such as being around people who drink). Is there something from your past that triggers these feelings? Write about what those triggers are so that you know what they are going forward when making decisions about how much time you want to spend in situations or talking about certain subjects that come up when drinking comes into play (e..g., politics).
Do something fun! Try something new this year like going ice skating or volunteering at a local soup kitchen instead of watching TV every night after work like usual...
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Whether you're struggling with your sobriety or just want to make sure that you stay on track this holiday season, don't be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to a friend, call a hotline, or talk with your doctor. Even if you're not ready to go cold turkey on alcohol consumption—which is totally fine!—you can still get some guidance from people who know the ins and outs of staying sober while celebrating the holidays in a healthy way. If there's one thing I've learned from being sober for two years now is that there are always people willing to give their advice when asked (as long as it's coming from someone who actually cares).
Remember that it's okay to say no to an event or gathering.
It can be easy to overdo it during the holidays, especially if you're feeling a little social anxiety or pressure from friends and family. Remember that it's okay to say no to an event or gathering—or any type of event. You don't have to go to every event, and if you do decide to say yes, there's always the option of saying no at some point during the night.
It's also okay not to drink at every event (or at all). If someone asks why you aren't drinking, just tell them that today isn't your day for alcohol consumption—and then move on! No need for an explanation unless they press further because obviously people don't care about other people's choices in life (unless they are making those choices themselves). In fact, I think most people would respect your decision not only because they know how difficult recovery is but also because everyone knows what binge-drinking feels like when it goes wrong.
Be honest with yourself and others to stay sober this holiday season
Staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge, so it's important to be honest with yourself and others. If you're not ready to stop drinking, that's okay! You should never feel pressured into doing something you aren't ready for. However, if you are ready to quit drinking or want help reducing your alcohol use this holiday season, there are many resources available. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most well-known organizations that provides support for individuals looking to reduce their alcohol use or quit altogether. It also has online forums where members can connect online or in person with others who share similar goals and experiences regarding sobriety.
Be honest with yourself about how much you drink and why
Ask for help from family members and friends if needed
Tell others what your intentions are so they don't force more drinks on you than necessary
Remember, the holidays can be tricky, but they don’t have to be overwhelming. If you take care of yourself and pay attention to your triggers, there is no reason why you can’t stay sober throughout this time of year!