One Down Two to Go: Surviving The Holidays Sober

December 2, 2015

If you’re reading this, you survived. You’ve completed the first of 3 potentially debaucherous challenges sober! Sure, it may have not been pretty, or perfect. But if you’re reading this right now, well, you did it! You survived Thanksgiving!

Let’s face it. Holiday season is stressful for everyone. Those of us leading a sober life likely feel the pressure to take extra caution during “The Bermuda Triangle” aka Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This trifecta of revelry can be a time when our friends, loved ones and we ourself can disappear down a self-destructive path.
So, before we go any further, let’s take a moment to meditate on that, and indulge in a little self-care. Because this shit ain’t easy. While we all bare witness to the hashtag-able holiday cheer replete with festive photos, humblebrags and the like, now is good time for a non-nauseating #gratitude check. What worked? What didn’t? How can we have a good time without jeopardizing our sobriety?

The Bermuda Triangle doesn’t have to be a season of dread or punishment. Rather than 12 steps, we put together 12 tips to empower you and preserve your sobriety during the most commercially festive time of the year.

Keep it real.
You’ve changed, but chances are good most everyone else has remained the same when it comes to how they celebrate during the holidays. They can’t all be as evolved as us! We know, we know, all it takes is one comment or judgmental look and we regress back to a way less than savory version of our new and improved self. This is our moment to use our tools. Remember, we are powerless over people, places and personalities, H.A.L.T and Pause When Agitated.

Lighten up.
Like you, we could swear that if Aunt Sheila tells us one more time that a little sip won’t hurt, we indeed could be an accessory to murder. But we can also praise god for the humor of these uncomfortable situations and respond rather than react. Our favorite? Saying nothing. Yes, way less indulgent, but hey, the outcome ALWAYS works out for the better!

It’s just another day.
It really is. Why must we wait for a season to project joy? When we’re focused on living well, every day is a good day. And like any other day, just because we aren’t drinking doesn’t mean we need to indulge in three helpings of anything!

Frequent meetings.
Keep up with sober friends. When you’re in a good place mentally and spiritually, it’s likely because you’re maintaining your meditative routines. Meetings keep us healthy. They are our medicine, so we feel it when we miss a dose. Keep a meeting locator link handy, or better yet, program a few locations into your GPS if you’re traveling. Many cities have 24-hour marathon meetings during the holidays. iTunes has a library of free speaker podcasts.

Tikkun Olam aka Heal the World
Commit to service and volunteer! Making life a little easier for others delivers its own set of rewards, namely perspective. It’s easy to let resentments creep up and emotions to overflow. Plus, an easier way to spend time with your complicated loved ones is to be distracted by serving those in need.

Let freedom ring.
Being sober gives you choices and permits you to make all those decisions that feel impossible when the mind is focused on booze and drugs. You’re free to say no! And while you can also say yes, remember that mantra: it’s just another day. Stop by and leave early. Here is your chance to show off your Irish goodbye skills.

Embrace affirmations daily.
Ask your higher power to help keep you sober today and every day of this holiday season. Try techniques that direct your thinking toward the accomplishment of your sobriety and feeling good about yourself. Take your mind to a quiet, beautiful place that is all yours and rest in that until you feel ready to return.

Relish in solidarity without loneliness.
Since it all is just another day, there’s no better time to catch up on things left undone. Catch up on sleep. Watch Empire. Remember, the one thing you have to do is not pick up a drink (or a drug).

Connect with your allies.
A friend, a family member, reach out to someone who knows your story and supports your sobriety. Develop a strategy that makes things easier for you and those you encounter. With a gameplan, you’re prepared with responses and answers you feel comfortable revealing. When someone says, you seem like a totally different person, if you’re expecting it, it’s easy then to provide a warm smile and offer a thank you. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with employing your redirecting skills. Let the vegan and gluten-free party attendees do a little answering!

Be healthy.
There are so many triggers out there so it’s easy to fall into that whole hungry, angry, lonely and tired routine. The best way to combat all that negativity is to, well, eat well. Avoid the quick sugar fix that leaves you hungry for more. Also those cravings can be combated with sufficient rest. Get some sleep! Take a nap! Honor your mind and body and take it easy.

Pray and meditate.
Read some Daily Reflections: A Day at a Time and Positive Thinking for example. In prayer, thank your sponsor, your higher power, your loved ones, and anyone other than yourself for giving you your life back and the opportunity to experience this holiday season differently.

Live with grace and practice gratitude.
Without hashtagging it all over social media, please! To be in the program is to live in gratitude every day and be mindful, appreciative and walk with humility for all we’re blessed with. After all, that’s why we’re actually spending our precious time with friends and family in the first place.

Happy Holidays!