The holiday season is a time for celebration, for being around people you love and enjoying good company and good cheer. If you’re newly sober, it’s a time to celebrate your recovery, too. However, the holiday season and its many parties and gatherings may feel daunting, especially if you’ll be around people who are not sober themselves. It can be challenging, but you can get through (and even enjoy!) your holiday season and share time with the people you care about. These seven tips should help you navigate the holidays and stay sober to start the new year.
Don’t expect things to be perfect.
Your sobriety is a journey, and your life will not become what you want it to be overnight. It takes time to build yourself into the person you want to be. Know that while you have made great strides in your life, others around you may not have, and that can cause tension and resentment. That’s OK. Keep a level head, do your best to get along with everyone, and know that the happiness of others is not your responsibility while you stay sober during the holiday season.
Come prepared if you will be flying.
Being on a plane can be a uniquely stressful experience for the newly sober. Considering that you’ll be stuck in a metal tube with people drinking alcohol for hours on end, there is a built-in trigger for you on any flight you take. If you can avoid flying alone, do so. Having a companion with you can both keep your mind off of your environment and provide a check and balance should you feel the urge to drink or use while on the plane. Sober companions can be hired for this purpose, as well. If you must fly alone, try to swap seats if you end up next to someone who will be drinking. Oftentimes, airlines will be accommodating of such requests. If all else fails, get your mind somewhere else. Put on a sleeping mask and headphones and invite yourself to enjoy a pleasant nap.
Focus your time on the people you care about.
Remember that you are in control of how you experience the holidays. You may be obligated to see some people who you do not like or who do not approve of your sobriety. Minimize the time you spend with them as much as possible. Be sure to take time away for yourself, as well. Giving yourself the mental space for rest and reflection can help you remain calm and navigate the more difficult social experiences of the season.
Get out and do things that aren’t sitting inside.
Family gatherings can revolve around inactivity and alcohol, which is surely a problem for those new to recovery. Try to encourage your family and friends to enjoy the time together in a more engaged way. Suggest activities that are both social and not reliant on alcohol to be enjoyable. Whether it’s heading to the mountains to snowboard, skating at the local pond or just making cookies together in the kitchen, there are many ways to enjoy your time without the temptation of alcohol. Encourage your family to create a welcoming environment for you that includes activities like these.
Others’ expectations are not what you think they are.
It’s only natural to stress about getting gifts that people will love or engaging in experiences that makes the people in your life happy. Know that nothing is more important in this time than maintaining your sobriety. Those around you feel the same way. If you have to skip a family event or can’t afford to buy everyone a gift, that’s OK. What those who love you really want is to see you stay sober and happy throughout the season. It’s truly the best gift you can give them.
Take care of yourself.
The holiday season can tend to disrupt peoples’ routines, which can be especially damaging to those just entering recovery. Be sure to stay focused on your own health and well-being. Get your usual sleep, eat when you’re hungry, take time to maintain your mental health. If that means skipping some events or spending less time with some people, then so be it. The most important thing is maintaining a healthy mindset to carry your sobriety through the holiday season and into the new year.
It won’t be perfect, but it will be worth it.
Surely, there will be some mishaps along the way in your first holiday season sober. You may upset some people by not matching their behavioral expectations. There may be some conflict with those who don’t appreciate the new you. Know that this is normal and an expected part of your recovery journey. Be sure you take the time to enjoy the season with people who truly love you and appreciate you. You deserve to feel good about yourself and enjoy the holidays like anyone else. Know that those who no longer fit your life will fall by the wayside in time, leaving a happy, healthy, sober you to enjoy the holidays for years to come.
How do you stay sober through the holiday season? Share with us in the comments.
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