The winter holidays are supposed to be a magical time of year. However, they can pose extra challenges if you’re trying to live sober.
You may look forward to decorating the tree and baking sugar cookies. Then, you remember crowded shopping malls and family dinners with distant relatives asking you about your childbearing plans.
You may also wonder how you’ll handle annual rituals that usually involve rum punch and champagne.
Learn how to celebrate the holidays without risking your recovery. Follow these tips for staying peaceful and sober, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing into the New Year.
Minimizing Holiday Stress:
- Anticipate triggers. Plan ahead for situations that may tempt you to want a drink. You’re more likely to make sound decisions if you avoid getting caught by surprise. Be prepared for social pressure and strong emotions.
- Watch your budget. Marathon shopping and credit card bills can cause financial strain. Figure out how much you can spend on entertaining and gifts and live within your limits.
- Enjoy nature. Set aside time for outdoor fun like ice skating and sledding. Go for a brisk walk and admire the snow.
- Work out. Physical activity is a great way to relax and burn off extra calories. Give yourself an early present of online fitness classes.
- Sleep well. You’re calmer and more resilient when your mind and body get adequate sleep. Stick to your regular bedtime. Turn off the TV and other devices at least 2 hours before retiring.
- Eat healthy. Proper nutrition provides energy and a sense of overall wellness. Plan your meals and snacks, so you get plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. If you love holiday treats like candy and pie, limit the serving sizes.
- Take a trip. A change of scenery might help. Treat yourself to a holiday vacation that will allow you to feel pampered and avoid situations that may be too demanding at this stage in your recovery.
- Attend extra meetings. If programs like AA have become part of your regular routine, check the calendar to find additional meetings and events to help you through the holiday season. You may also want to try them for the first time, if you want extra support.
Managing Holiday Socializing:
- Create new traditions. Be creative. Invent new holiday activities if your old ones revolved around drinking. Host a pancake breakfast instead of a boozy brunch. Finish a day of shopping with an exercise session instead of a glass of wine. Replace bar hopping with volunteer work.
- Be selective. A lighter schedule may help you feel more balanced. Pick the parties and events that are the highest priorities for you. Graciously turn down invitations to gatherings that could be too awkward.
- Snack wisely. An empty stomach can sabotage your willpower. Eat some bread and cheese or a handful of nuts before going out for the evening.
- Stay hydrated. There are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages you can still enjoy. In addition to plain water or juice, explore recipes for fancy mocktails with ingredients like star anise, muddled berries, and cinnamon.
- Help out. Shifting your attention to others is a great way to distract yourself from alcohol cravings or any feelings of self-consciousness. Let your host know you’re available to tend the music or chop vegetables in the kitchen.
- Leave early. Alcohol often flows more freely later in the night. If you prefer a quieter experience, be among the first to arrive and depart.
Be merry and sober this holiday season. The occasions you celebrate without alcohol may wind up being more meaningful and memorable.