How to Survive the Holidays Sober

Newly sober? Long-sober but still suffering? The holidays can be a mixed bag. Maybe you’re dreading them because they’ve long been associated with drinking and using. Maybe you’ve got a tough family and are expecting conflicts and drama. Or maybe you are among the countless Americans who find the pressure to have a picture-perfect holiday overwhelming.

The holiday season comes with a range of expectations – for gifts, togetherness, socializing and “magic.” If you’re newly sober, you might be alone for these special occasions, or dread seeing family with whom you have fraught relationships.

On the other hand – all may be merry and bright, you just want to get through the holidays without a drink or drug. Whatever the case, we’ve got tips. Read on for more…

volunteer for the holidaysGo Help Out

Without fail, the most surefire way to feel better and stay sober through the holidays is to help others. There are a thousand people and causes that could use your energy and experience. Offering support to another addict or alcoholic is a great option, as is volunteering at a food bank. Depending on where you live, the opportunities are abundant. Signing up to help with holiday events in your local 12-step community is another way to both get plugged in and get out of yourself. Our guess is that you’ll find some joy in the process.

Get into Action

Although it may seem a bit obvious – it’s worth saying: if you want to stay sober through the holidays, get off your butt. Get to a 12-step meeting, connect with your support system, or enter a treatment center, if that is appropriate. Most people aren’t able to sober up just by thinking about it. Some work is required. If you are one of those people who aren’t a problem drinker and just want a sober holiday season, it’s still beneficial to take a look at your drinking or drug use. Getting honest never hurt anyone. Even if you discover it is just a social lubricant, you may find that this is the year you go deeper with friends and family and show up more authentically.

holidays bakingMake the Holidays Your Own

Creating new holiday traditions can be a balm for the soul. Try dinner and a classic Christmas movie with a friend (Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas Movie), attend an annual community event, or start decorating your space. Maybe make cookies with a child in your life. A little effort goes a long way, and creating traditions that bring a smile to your face can make the holidays a bit more bearable. Heck, they might even be nice.

Phone a Friend

When in doubt, talk it out. The holidays can be so loaded with demands on our time, expectations, and pressure of all sorts. If you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, try reaching out. Letting someone know you’re struggling can ease a troubled mind and offer comfort, connection, and hope. You don’t have to go it alone! Although it might feel awkward, being vulnerable and allowing people in offers us a chance to form the deeper connections we crave. And if you don’t think you have anyone to call on, get to a 12-step meeting, let someone know you are struggling, and ask for a phone number. There are solutions out there. (To read more on the power of connection, click here.)

Here’s hoping this holiday season is your best yet – and that you navigate a minefield of challenges with grace, dignity, and most of all – sobriety. These tools work year-round, and little steps can lead to big changes. We hope you find some hope and joy this year!

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