The holidays are a time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends but they can also be a stressful time for many people. Being sober during the holidays can be especially hard as you try to navigate through numerous triggers and find ways to handle the pressure. A newly sober person will find the holidays a very serious challenge to their recent lifestyle change.
Unfortunately many people falter in their commitment to sobriety during the holidays, but it is possible to make it through successfully if you take the time to plan ahead and practice self-care. Even though you might feel nervous about the prospect of attending numerous parties and get-togethers there are certain strategies you can take to ensure that you will remain sober when things become especially challenging. If you avoid pitfalls and stay on track you can make it through the holidays sober this year and every year.
How to Handle Parties
Probably the biggest fear that everyone sober person has when the holidays are coming up is how they will deal with all the holiday party invites where there is sure to be alcohol. Along with work parties, friends, acquaintances and even relatives may all have their own separate celebrations. How do you deal with that amount of temptation without bailing on everything and letting people down?
The important thing to remember is that even though you might feel guilty you don’t have to go to absolutely everything. If there is going to be a party where you know everyone will be drinking a lot and you are definitely going to feel tempted then listen to your instinct and don’t go. There are going to be some situations that you can handle more easily than others so be careful about which parties you choose to attend.
If there are some holiday parties that you think you can handle, make sure that you always have a way to get home if things get uncomfortable or risky. Go in your own car or make sure you have a ride with someone who won’t want to stay longer than you. If you have the option, bring a sober buddy who is in the same position as you are so that you can rely on each other for support.
One difficult aspect of being sober at a party is dealing with people offering you drinks or asking why you aren’t drinking. It can be a good idea to think about how you want to answer these questions beforehand so that you aren’t caught off guard and end up feeling embarrassed. You don’t have to tell people that you had an addiction if you don’t feel comfortable but can simply say that you don’t want to drink tonight.
Coping with Stress and Family Issues while Sober
Aside from holiday parties there are also many other things that can make the holidays stressful. There is the pressure of trying to find the right gifts for people and finish your shopping in time. Cooking and decorating and getting involved in holiday events at work or school can be a lot of work too and create extra stress.
One of the hardest aspects of christmas though for many people is having to spend time with family members that you haven’t seen all year. While some people have loving, supportive families not everyone is so lucky. There may be many family issues that people must face around the holidays which can bring up painful emotions and added drama.
If you experience a lot of stress because of your family then it is a good idea to practice self-care and find strategies to cope with your feelings. When you are at your family’s house you can always take a break by going for a walk or saying that you need to run to the store. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed you can skip dessert and leave early if necessary.
Throughout the entire holiday season you can find ways to deal with stress such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and other relaxation methods. Whenever your stress becomes difficult to manage you can always give yourself a day off to focus on your mental health. Take things a day at a time and provide yourself with any opportunity you have to feel calm and centered again.
The important thing to remember about the holidays is that even though you may feel you have so many obligations, your highest priority is yourself and your sobriety. Recovery should be your focus at all times especially if it is your first year sober and you need to adjust to the change. Eventually the holidays will get easier over time and you will get better at handling different situations year after year.
If you are struggling during the holidays don’t hesitate to visit a support group or find a sober buddy that you can talk to when you need help.