The holidays can be a difficult time for everyone. The hustle and bustle of buying gifts and overwhelming family functions can put a damper on the holiday cheer – especially if you’re newly sober. Here are a few ideas on how you can stay sober during the holidays while also enjoying all of the festivities.
Business and family Christmas parties are often the primary cause of anxiety for newcomers in sobriety. If you plan on attending a work or family holiday party, it’s always a great idea to bring a sober friend with you. The accountability and comfort of having someone that is sober come with you to these events can definitely eliminate the pressure and unwanted stress of these vulnerable festivities.
It is always important to remember that if you attend a holiday party and feel uncomfortable at any point, you can leave at any time. It’s never a bad idea to think ahead and plan an exit strategy if temptation arises. For instance, if the party gets out of hand or everyone is getting a little too festive, the safest option is to leave. Do not put your fear of hurting someone’s feelings above your sobriety.
Family gatherings are often a major trigger for individuals in sobriety. After all, addiction is a family disease. You seeking help for your addiction does not mean your family dysfunction has healed. It is important that you stand firm in letting your family know where you stand with your sobriety. If you find yourself struggling, it’s okay to step outside and call your sponsor or another sober support.
You do not have to feel guilty if you find yourself having to leave a family gathering. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is vital for you to look at the bigger picture. If your number one priority is to stay sober and you feel triggered at your family holiday gathering – leaving is certainly better than drinking.
The holidays often carry a great sense of expectations, whether those expectations be on you or someone else. If you are in recovery, you know “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” You cannot predict anyone else’s thoughts or their personal situations and you cannot expect them to know yours. Do not engage in allowing your presumptions to determine your holiday experiences.
More often than not, if you go home with expectations you will find yourself disappointed. After all, you cannot control other people, places, or things. Make this holiday season easy on yourself and allow whatever happens to happen. Stay in the moment, keep it simple, and enjoy the holidays.
If you are a part of any 12-Step Fellowship and attend meetings regularly, now is not the time to stop attending. The holidays often lead to trying to “squeeze in” time with family, buying gifts, and all the other fun, festivities. However, if meetings have helped you during your sobriety then it is imperative that you make plans to keep the same routine during this stressful time of year.
Plan ahead and map out the meetings you will attend. After you make a commitment to attend these specific meetings, you can build your schedule around them and hold yourself accountable. This will make it much easier to visit all of the people you want to see and do all of the things you need to do without getting overwhelmed and neglecting the routine that is working for you.
Be of Service – The Season of Giving
This time of year is all about giving. For recovering alcoholics and addicts, it is important that you continue to steer clear of selfishness. Remember, you are not the only one going through a challenging time. Look around you, chances are there are plenty of people who are less fortunate than you are. Helping others is the best way to get outside of yourself and to ensure your sobriety.
Get out of your own head and feel better as you help others. There is no greater contribution to the world than serving those around you. When you take the time to be of service to others, naturally you will feel joyful and a sense of purpose. There is no better way to show gratitude than by helping other people as you are amazed at how this helps your sobriety during the holidays.
The holidays can often bring about long spouts of downtime. Use this time to your advantage. Don’t use these days to dwell on triggers or painful memories of your past – help someone else, go to a meeting, shop for yourself, or go get a massage. It’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with pleasing others and forget that in order to stay sober, you have to take care of yourself too.
Downtime gives you the time to reflect. The last thing you need to do is spend time to start “thinking” of good ideas. Go for a walk, meditate, journal, and take the time to do the things you would normally do on a day to day basis. After all, your sobriety is number one.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
The holidays can be a difficult time for everyone. There are so many events to attend and so much going on around you, but take the time to slow down and appreciate the little things. Invest your time into looking at all of the things you have to be grateful for. Make an honest effort to stay connected to your sober support, utilize tools you learned in therapy when dealing with family, help others, and enjoy time with your loved ones.
This time of year is a great reminder that the best part of the holidays is spending time with your family and friends. Be present in the moment and enjoy what is going on around you. People are festive during this time of year. Rather than resisting that feeling, and harping on painful memories, embrace your sober holiday season.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.