Tis the season to be jolly…for most. For others, it’s also a season to be overly anxious and nervous about staying sober for many who are living a life in sobriety. This is my sixth year of sober holiday festivities and I thought it might be beneficial for some to have a few helpful tips for staying sober during the holidays.
I already know the setting because I’ve lived it. You walk into your family gathering on Christmas, day or eve, and you are greeted by family and friends. You take your coat off, set your gifts under the tree and give hugs to everyone. Shortly after you are asked the infamous question: “Can I get you a drink?”
Here’s the thing, this is no different than any other setting where you would say no to a drink. There is no reason to get all hyped up about the holidays. I’ve talked to so many people who get antsy with holiday parties and festivities because of the drinking that usually comes with them.
It’s ok to say no.
It’s ok to continue living your life in the best way you know how for you.
It’s ok to be comfortable in your lifestyle around people who love you.
Now that you have some permission to grant yourself, here are a few other helpful tips to keep in mind that will help you stay sober through the holidays.
Have your answers ready. For the newly sober, it may be hard to think of answers to friends and family when they ask about why you aren’t drinking. Sometimes being honest is the best policy. For me, I just tell them that I chose this lifestyle because it was healthier for me and was helping me to be happier. Most of the time they understand, but sometimes they don’t. One thing I’ve said before that seems to do the trick goes something like this: “Trust me, I know it’s weird, and I promise it’s weirder for me. But I need your support in this. So thank you for sticking by me.” This usually elicits a hug or a high five and you’re off on your merry way.
Have a support system. This is crucial. Make sure to have a good group of people that you can call or text if you feel anxiety or the urge to drink or use. Get to church or a meeting. Don’t slack on your routines that keep you in check whether that means getting to the gym or landing on your yoga mat. And always remember the best support system of all is only a prayer away.
Understand that things may look different this year. If you can’t go out on New Year’s Eve, its not the end of the world. I am to the point where drinking isn’t even a thought to me. I go out because I love to dance and listen to music which makes it much less hard. But there were many years I stayed at home on New Years, happily in my pjs, watching the ball drop and standing firm in my commitments to myself. New Year’s isn’t all it’s cracked up to be most of the time and for many years I did not want to deal with the drunks, drama or disappointment. So, if you think you are missing something, think again. The only thing to be worried about is missing out on is that awful hangover the next morning.
Remember it’s a lifestyle. It’s not something that changes just because of the occasion. Remember why you started. Remember how you got here. Remember the last night you got drunk or high and how it made you feel. Remind yourself how guilty, shameful and regret filled you would be in the morning if you tried to have “just one.” Sobriety is a lifestyle, not something we pick up and put down as we please. The holidays are no exception. You also never know who you might be influencing with your commitment to yourself. My example of sobriety has been the catalyst for many life changing conversations. We never know who is watching or in need of an example.
Lastly don’t forget to have fun! Your fun doesn’t have to entail drinking or getting wasted. Fun could come in the form of a cozy fire, a board game (Cards Against Humanity is hysterical) or a good conversation with someone you love. Laugh and enjoy your time off from work with family and be thankful for everything you’ve been blessed with throughout the year. One of the best presents you could ever receive is the gift of sobriety.
Getting through the holidays sober takes strength. It also renews us as we enter into the New Year because we honor our commitments to ourselves. Let the holidays be a time to rejoice that you have made it this far and with the new year comes more opportunity to live life to your fullest.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember that he was sent to save us. Part of that saving grace is his hand in our sobriety and more importantly our lives. Never forget that the one who died for our sins and rose from the grave, lives inside you. THIS is the best present of all.
“The magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His presence.”
Merry Christmas MABers! Xo