10 Tips for Your First Holiday Season Sober
Can you imagine brunch without mimosas? Can you imagine New Year’s Eve without a toast of champagne? What about your work holiday party without an open bar? One of the things we worry about most when we get sober is how we’ll get through special life events without drinking or using drugs. The holidays are some of these times. You might have specific events and traditions with your family and friends that include alcohol. You might be dreading these upcoming months and all that come along with them. Your first holiday season can be tough, but you don’t have to dread it. You’ll get through it just like you’ve been getting through every day, one day at a time.
Here are 10 tips to help you get through your first holiday season sober.
- Find comfort in the fact that you are not alone
Addiction can be so lonely, but recovery is not. Even though you might be the only sober person at a certain gathering during the holidays, you aren’t the only sober person going through their first holiday season without drugs and alcohol. You aren’t the only person who feels uncomfortable or is having a hard time. Find others who are where you are and sympathize with them. They’ll be feeling the same way you are.
- Know that your discomfort won’t last forever
Finding yourself at get-togethers, with family, and around people, places and things that may remind you of drinking and using can be extremely uncomfortable. You might feel anxious, nervous, scared, and like you’re crawling out of your skin. Early sobriety is never easy, throw in the holidays and family and it can be uncomfortable to the max. Even though your first sober holiday might be painful and uncomfortable, know that it won’t last forever. If you make it through these days sober, you’ll move past it and not feel uncomfortable forever. Feelings are temporary, even the ones that are difficult.
- Have 1 or 2 people you can depend on to call
Having other sober people to call when you need to is an essential part of successful recovery. Make sure you have another person you can count on to text or call you back right away when you need them. When you find yourself feeling upset or uncomfortable, send this person a message so they can lend an ear and listen to you and offer some advice. It always feels good to connect with others who understand us, especially during your first sober holiday season.
- Always have an escape plan
I recommend this to any sober person who plans to socialize or may be going to a place where alcohol is present. You always need a plan to exit the building when you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or you’re just ready to get the hell out of there. Be prepared to protect your sobriety at all costs. No party, family get-together, or holiday gift exchange is worth it if you feel triggered or upset about your surroundings. How can you create a plan? Always have a ride or a car and don’t be afraid to ghost everyone if that gets you out quicker.
- Secure your boundaries
Have a talk without yourself beforehand and go over what you will and won’t accept. Are you willing to be in a place where people might be using drugs? Can you enjoy yourself around grandma and grandpa if they are drinking wine and blacking out? Are you prepared to meet up with Jenny, your friend who knows you’re sober but will offer you alcohol anyway? Make some decisions about what you want to dedicate your energy to and what you don’t. This will save you some pain later.
- Know that it’s ok to say no
This goes along with securing your boundaries. If you’re a people-pleaser or feel like you have to say yes because it’s what’s asked of you, you need to know it’s ok to say no. You don’t need to feel guilty for staying true to yourself and your boundaries. This is a requirement of sobriety and saying no is a part of it. If you want to stay safe, sober and happy this holiday season you’ll need to know how to say no, and say it often.
- Know alcohol won’t make your holidays better
It’s a falsehood that alcohol would make your holidays better, more fun, more enjoyable, or even tolerable. Alcohol has been detrimental to your life in some or many ways. This is why you are sober, and no amount of a harmful substance will make your holiday season easier. Once you get through your first holiday season sober, you’ll understand it’s not as bad as you imagined. You’ll also have the experience to keep you secure in knowing you can make it through anything sober.
- Extra self-care in your schedule
Self-care is another essential component to successful recovery. This doesn’t just include massages, bubble baths, and sleep, but it also includes practicing gratitude, putting your recovery first and sticking to your boundaries. Make sure you do something for yourself and yourself at least once every day during the holiday season. If you know it will be a difficult time for you, schedule extra self-care. You’ll thank yourself later when you’ve made it through the holidays sober.
- Know you will create new holiday traditions
The holidays can bring up a mix of emotions because we’ve celebrated them all our lives. You might have destructive holiday traditions that include during or other negative behaviors and these can be hard to break and let go of. During your first sober holiday season, you’ll see that it’s the perfect time to create new holiday traditions. Cherish this new, sober time and make the best of it.
- Keep a close reminder of your sobriety
Remembering why you’re choosing to be sober in times of difficulty can be tough, but so important. I always keep my necklace with my sobriety date close and wear it when I’m going out into the unknown, traveling, or attending a social event where alcohol is present. I suggest keeping a list with the reasons why you quit close to you, or another reminder of why sobriety is important to you. That way when you forget, you can remind yourself and stay true to your sobriety during the holidays.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.