If this is going to be your first sober Christmas, congratulations! You’ve come a long way, and your success is commendable. Getting sober is tough, but staying that way can present a wide range of challenges. One of the biggest hurdles for recovering alcoholics is getting through the holidays without drinking.
Of course, there are thousands of well-meaning tips, but many of them are easier said than done. Even the stress of worrying about it can make you want to take a drink. So, how can you take part in the holiday festivities and maintain your sobriety? Maybe these tips will help you find joy in sober holidays.
Tips on How to Have Your First Sober Christmas
Most of the following tips have been around for ages, but even though they seem fairly obvious, we hope they’ll prove to be helpful.
Obvious Tip #1: Decide not to drink.
This sounds like an obvious point but think about it this way. You think you have made up your mind not to drink. But, deep down, you might still be a little undecided and planning to play it by ear. If that little seed of doubt is planted, you’re going to struggle to say no to alcohol. Believe it or not, people decide they’re going to drink long before picking up that glass. Actually taking the drink is just the final step in a long line of other subconscious or conscious decisions.
Obvious Tip #2: Think positive.
Yes, we’re all tired of that bit of advice, but sometimes it works. Remember, you’ve been strong enough and smart enough to get sober. Don’t undo all your hard work for one night of fun. Visualize yourself having a sober good time and waking up without the dreaded hangover everyone else is gonna have.
Obvious Tip #3: Just don’t go.
If you are firmly committed to your sobriety, you’ll have some tough decisions to make. For instance, if you know the family gatherings or social events will be too difficult for you, just don’t go. Of course, you don’t want to offend anyone by declining to attend, but you are the one who is in charge of your sobriety. That puts you in the position of making unpleasant choices, but ultimately, you’ll be glad you stuck by your decision.
Obvious Tip #4: Be in charge of your drinks.
Holiday events call for special drinks, but they don’t have to be alcoholic. Plan ahead and come up with some unique non-alcoholic beverages that make you feel like you’re part of the celebration. Don’t depend on the host of the party to have something you’ll like. Bring your own non-alcoholic specialty drinks if this is your first sober Christmas.
Obvious Tip #5: Keep to your routine.
Holidays are notorious for upsetting our daily routines. This can be troublesome for recovering alcoholics because they need to keep doing the things that keep them sober. One way to avoid getting side-tracked is to choose three things that are vital to keeping you on the sober path. Running, reading, bubble baths, whatever works for you. Keep doing them no matter what. Anything you can do to reinforce your accomplishment is a step in the right direction. The holidays are temporary, so don’t let them cause permanent harm to your sobriety.
Setting Realistic Goals for the Holidays
Are you thinking you can handle your difficult relatives better now that you’re sober? Maybe you can. But, don’t expect too much. If they get out of control, just focus on yourself and don’t let their behavior lead you to take a drink. Set realistic goals that will give you a way out if things ramp up. For instance, take your own car so you can leave if necessary. Or, take a sober friend with you for added support.
If your first sober Christmas must be spent away from home, you can still attend AA, NA, or other meetings to help you stay focused. Spending a sober Christmas will take some planning, but you’ve already come this far. You can get through the holidays without drinking and still have a good time. All of us at Awakenings Rehabilitation wish you a successfully sober holiday season.