Guide to Sober and Happy Holidays
Avila Heights Recovery wishes everyone in recovery happy sober holidays! Navigating the holiday season while staying sober can seem overwhelming – especially for the newly recovered.
We know the challenges of maintaining sobriety during holidays. We would like to share some insights on how to remain sober when holiday celebrations are in full swing.
Sober holidays do not mean missing out on fun. Holiday sobriety means redefining what holiday cheer looks like to you.
Holiday sobriety is achievable. And being alcohol and drug-free can actually enhance the joy and authenticity of seasonal celebrations.
In this article, we will give practical tips and strategies that help prioritize recovery while having a truly enjoyable holiday season.
Be Mindful of What You’re Drinking—and Thinking
Navigating holiday festivities poses unique challenges for maintaining sobriety. One of the key elements is vigilance about what’s in my glass – and what’s on my mind.
First thing when entering holiday gatherings – always get a non-alcoholic drink. Having a non-alcoholic drink in hand is a smart move for sober holidays. It serves a dual purpose: staying hydrated and it reduces the chances of someone offering an alcoholic drink. People usually do not notice the difference. Maintaining control over beverage selection is crucial for a stress-free and sober experience.
However, having fun sober during holidays is not just about non-alcoholic drinks.
Equally important is awareness of thinking. Staying present and soaking in the joy of the moment helps individuals avoid the trap of overthinking.
The focus has to be on the Here and Now rather than past events or tomorrow.
Celebrate being there, being sober and able to fully experience the warmth and connection that the holiday season can bring. Cognitive Reframing of thoughts is a powerful tactic.
Stay Focused on the Here and Now
“Be Here Now”― Ram Dass, Be Here Now
Staying Present is about cherishing the company and enjoying the surroundings.
In case an accidental sip of alcohol is taken – prepare mentally.
A minor slip does not mean a relapse. And a sip of alcohol does not mean a complete derailment of your sober holiday.
Think to yourself: “This is a minor blip. And I am fully equipped to handle it without being triggered to use or spiraling into negative thoughts. The ability to bounce back quickly without self-judgment is something I’ve worked hard to develop”.
Rewrite the Holiday Story in Your Head
As we navigate the holiday season with sobriety in mind – realize the power of writing your own holiday narrative.
The key lies in untangling past experiences and expectations from the festivities today. Create a new narrative that aligns with a commitment to sobriety.
The first step is to acknowledge the role alcohol has traditionally played in holiday celebrations.
Alcohol has been the central focus of holiday celebrations since the medieval age – or before.
Alcohol has been the central character in most of our cultural memories. It has often cast as the symbol of holiday cheer.
Knowledge is power. Understanding the power of cultural beliefs and practices – those in recovery must create their own sober holidays celebration traditions.
Focus on what truly brings joy: the connections with loved ones, a festive atmosphere, and new traditions that don\’t hinge on alcohol.
Changing internal narratives require creating traditions that resonate more authentically with being in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse.
Whether hosting a sober holiday dinner, savoring the flavors of well-crafted nonalcoholic beverages, or engaging in winter sports that invigorate both body and soul – alternatives to holiday drinking and drugging can be found.
Below, a few ideas for enjoyable and sober holiday activities:
∙ Organizing a sober potluck where everyone brings a dish to share
∙ Hosting a hot chocolate and craft night with friends or family
∙ Volunteering at a local charity to give back to the community
∙ Explore creative and delicious non-alcohol holiday drinks.
18 Zero-Proof Christmas Mocktails That Are 100% Delicious
By embracing new traditions, individuals are empowered to enjoy the holidays without feeling deprived or out of place.
Fill the new sober holidays tradition with experiences that promote well-being and reflect the journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Prepare for the emotional aspects. Realistic expectations are required.
- Getting sober doesn’t erase life’s imperfections. Familiar stressors and challenges may be encountered – and I am equipped with the tools to navigate them without defaulting to old habits.
- In the spirit of transformation, begin to associate the holidays with personal growth and recovery. This shift is about creating an internal environment that is confident and at peace with choices for sobriety – regardless of external expectations.
Create a Holiday Escape Plan and Plan to Protect Your Sobriety
In the midst of the holiday season, having a sober holidays escape plan is just as vital as any tradition.
Control over departure from parties and activities is key to maintaining sobriety.
- This means always bringing my own vehicle to holiday events, ensuring I can leave when I need to without relying on others. Slippery scenarios are less daunting when I know there is a way out.
- Arriving early and leaving early circumvents many potential pitfalls. Being among the first to arrive allows me to connect with others before alcohol becomes the center of attention. And leaving prior to the peak of the party sidesteps a lot of pressure.
- It is vital to keep in mind the acronym HALT. Before stepping into a festive holiday celebration environment, make certain that you are not Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. These states can magnify relapse triggers and lower the resolve to remain sober.
- Having a sober companion can also work wonders. A sober companion can provide a buffer against the barrage of well-intentioned – yet risky – offers of a ‘holiday toast’. And the companion can provide immediate moral support. Together, we are a united front against the subtle cues that call for a drink (or drug).
- The choice to stay home or leave early is a powerful assertion of self-care. Initially, there may be worry that your absence would disappoint others. Or there may be concern that leaving early would raise eyebrows. However, prioritizing sobriety is the ultimate gift – not just for the individual – but for the people who matter most in an individual’s life. Friends, colleagues and family will appreciate a healthier, happier and sober ‘new you’ that comes from a commitment to recovery.
- Before any holiday gathering, reflect on your sobriety journey. We tend to forget the reasons for choosing sobriety amidst the chaos of celebrations. Recalling the reasons for staying sober fortifies resolve. Remind yourself that well-being is the bedrock upon which all positive holiday experiences are built.
Self-Care Tips to Practice Throughout the Holidays
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to lose sight of what keeps us grounded.
Self-care is non-negotiable to addiction recovery and extends beyond the holiday season.
It is critical to remember that self-care isn\’t selfish: it is essential.
If starting to feel overwhelmed – take a step back and assess whether you are trying to do too much.
Do not not afraid to decline invitations or back out of commitments that threaten sobriety. And if feeling especially strained, turn to healthy stress coping mechanisms like yoga, a walk outside, journaling – or even a pampering spa treatment.
When maintaining sobriety – stress is a formidable adversary. Arm yourself with strategies and routines that fortify mental and emotional well-being.
And do not pause usual routines just because it\’s the holidays. Keep up with therapy sessions, meetings, and self-care. Managing holiday pressures becomes far more manageable with self-care – and the temptation to relapse is less.
It is also crucial also to recognize that some conversations about recovery can be uncomfortable – especially around family who might not understand the journey. So, set personal boundaries and stick to them.
Whether it is deciding not to discuss recovery process or taking a firm stance on departure time, personal boundaries are a key part of holiday self-care strategy.
Maintain focus on health and sobriety by scheduling self-care, just as you would any other critical appointment.
It is these daily acts of wellness that sustain us. Self-care keeps individuals in recovery clear-headed and prepared for whatever the season may bring.
Create a List of Holiday Survival Tips
Navigating the holiday season while focusing on recovery means creating personalized strategies that resonate with your personal journey.
The value of a planning holiday strategies: it helps individuals stay centered and sober amidst the holiday festivity chaos.
One effective strategy is to make a holiday survival list. This is not just any list – it is a personal blueprint for navigating the highs and lows of the season.
Start by revisiting strategies that have worked for in the past and ensure these are front and center on my list. But also be open to exploring new suggestions. This may involve brainstorming and possibly discussing options with a counselor. The collaboration can reveal insights that might have missed if you go it alone.
Here is a snapshot of what might find its way onto a holiday survival list:
- Develop a robust calendar: Getting holiday weeks mapped out in advance provides indivduals with structure; and prevents unforeseen stress. Insure that the calendar reflects a balance between social activities that are recovery-friendly and personal time for reflection.
- Invent new traditions: The idea that holidays are synonymous with certain behaviors is outdated. Create new and sober traditions that bring joy without the need for alcohol. For example, hosting a holiday movie marathon or a virtual game night keeps things festive and inclusive.
- Commit to a self-care routine: Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of self-care. Dedicating a day to self-care activities like spa treatments or quiet contemplation can re-energize individuals for the coming holiday festivities.
- Embrace the beauty around you: Instead of attending parties, you might choose to go lightseeing: appreciating the holiday lights and decorations in the community.
- Remember the acronym HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Check in with emotions regularly. By addressing emotions proactively, those in recovery are less likely to be blindsided by a craving or triggering an impulse that could risk sobriety. Being mindful of emotions in check is essential. If emotions begin to seem overwhelming – take a step back to reassess needs and self-care practices.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Navigating the holidays sober can be a challenge – but it is very rewarding.
With a solid plan in place, individuals in recovery are equipped to face the season head-on.
Remember to lean on your support system and never hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
Sobriety is not a solo journey, and the holidays are no exception. By staying true to your goals and embracing the joy of the season – you will find that a sober holiday can be joyful and fulfilling. Here\’s to celebrating your strength and the beauty of sober moments.
Sober Holidays FAQs
Bring non-alcoholic drinks that you enjoy, concentrate on the culinary delights, ensure you have a support system within reach, be aware of your triggers, and respect your boundaries. Engage in fundamental sobriety practices, invest time in volunteering, keep up with self-care routines, and create new sober traditions.
Stay realistic and prioritize your safety. Secure a strong support system when stress levels rise. Set achievable holiday goals, access financial support if necessary, and treat yourself with kindness. Maintain connections with fellow individuals in recovery and don’t be too harsh on yourself.
Organize your time well and have a well-thought-out exit plan. Identify a supportive companion, avoid confrontation, and keep yourself engaged in activities. Discover what brings you happiness, don’t hesitate to seek help when needed, and plan things to look forward to in the future.
Prepare a polite but firm response for drink offers; ask a sober companion to accompany you to celebrations (perhaps attending a support group meeting beforehand) and offer help to the host. Avoid environments or individuals that may negatively influence or trigger you to use. Keep a positive expectation, opt for smaller gatherings, and don’t hesitate to give someone a call if you need to talk.