The holiday season can really test our wills, but we can keep our heads about us during this time of year and not reset the clock on our hard-earned sobriety. Family expectations, holiday parties, memories…all of these can be stressors and therefore triggers that make us think about using again. But the holidays don’t have to crush your commitment to sobriety. You have a personal best to keep and maintain and now is the time to maintain awareness of the pitfalls.
Here are 8 ways to maintain that sobriety date during this season:
- Keep a reminder on you at all times.
Because staying sober is important to you, keep a reminder on your person, be it your coin, a trinket, a piece of jewelry or even just a note to yourself on why you are staying sober. Sticky notes left around the house also help to reinforce your resolve.
- Stick around with people who support your recovery.
Spend time with your sober sisters and brothers. We all share this sometimes awkward and pressure-filled time and friends on whom you can count to support you when you’re under pressure are pure gold. If you go to meetings, keep going.
- Know your lines.
Having a few lines ready for when you may have to turn down a drink at a holiday party (or anywhere, for that matter), can make these scenes of temptation less stressful. You don’t need to tell people that you are in recovery—it’s not really their business. “No, thank you,” is a perfectly acceptable answer, as is, “No, but I’d kill for a sparkling water,” or, “I’m the DD.” Being prepared with what you’ll say will make staying sober in social situations much less stressful.
- Be picky about parties.
Avoiding every party is not always the answer, but picking and choosing holiday celebrations is completely acceptable. Go to the gatherings that are important to you, but there are awesome mini-tips for when you are at the more questionable ones:
- Have a sober partner in crime with you
- Be the DD (and responsible for other people’s lives as well as your own)
- Stay away from old hangouts, even to just say hello
- Have an escape plan (or just leave if you feel uncomfortable)
If the answer is no, then it may be best to steer clear. Staying sober is the most important thing for you; a few hours at a party are not worth risking
- Have a Plan
Put together a plan for the “just in case” situation arises, i.e. just in case you get “squirrely” or become unsure of yourself. Coordinate a list of people who you can call if you begin feeling lonely, overwhelmed or just need someone to be there on the other end of the line. Line up a meeting. Like a spy, set up a safe house, i.e. a safe place to go in case the adversary (the urge) finds you out.
- Start new traditions.
Have fun with this! Host your own sober party, buy a new board game, make holiday crafts, go ice skating, volunteer; the opportunities for sober holiday fun are endless.
- Embrace the holiday spirit of gratitude and giving.
Remember the true spirit of the holiday season is that of gratitude and giving. Even if you feel that you don’t have much to give monetarily you can give your time, your kindness, and your smile. Make a daily gratitude list at the beginning or end of each day and name at least 3 things you can be grateful for each day throughout the holiday season.
- Above All, Celebrate Your Recovery
Being sober is a gift and an accomplishment worth celebrating. Believe in your new self and your sobriety. The holidays can be stressful and difficult with parties, family pressures, and often loneliness. Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and keep up the good work!