It can feel like it’s impossible to celebrate holidays sober.
There is a lot of external pressure to imbibe. Every party, event, and holiday activity seem to include alcohol. In some circles, other substances are also plentiful.
Sometimes friends and co-workers innocently offer you a drink. On the other hand, some peers overtly put on the pressure to “just have one.”
In addition to the external pressure, you have your own inner voice to work with. Holidays can increase stress and loneliness and decrease your defenses and willpower. Therefore, even though you want to sober, part of you may not want to at all.
Despite all of the internal and external pressure, it is possible to celebrate holidays sober. Yes, you can even enjoy them. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s Fun to Celebrate Holidays Sober
First and foremost, it’s helpful to get in the right frame of mind. If you feel like you’re always going to miss out if you’re sober, then you’re not going to enjoy the holidays.
In contrast, if you can learn to approach celebrations as fun even without substance use, then you are well on your way to happy holidays.
Focus on the little things. What are the small joys that you’ve always loved about the holidays? One of the best things about staying sober is that you can relish (and remember!) every single detail of the holidays.
Keep Kids Close by to Celebrate Holidays Sober
Children can be the ultimate source of inspiration when it comes to sober celebrating. After all, they delight in each moment in such a pure way.
If you have children, then look to them for cues on enjoying those little things. If you don’t have children, consider spending time with friends and family who do.
Having children around at the holidays doesn’t just give you ideas for how to celebrate sober. It also increases the opportunities you’ll find for sober holiday events.
Look for family-friendly celebrations in your area—a St. Patrick’s Day parade, eating Irish food, watching Irish movies, etc.
Of course, sometimes those events include alcohol for the adults. One trick is to appoint yourself as kid-minder for the parties. If you’re in charge of the kiddos, then you shouldn’t be drinking, and no one there is likely to pressure you otherwise. Plus, you’ll be focused on what they’re doing so it might be easier to fight cravings.
Dealing with Cravings and Minimizing Sobriety Risks
Of course, you aren’t always going to find it easy to spend the holidays with kids or focus on the little things. Sometimes, you’re going to get the urge to indulge. Your best bet is to prepare in advance.
First of all, recognize that many holidays are stressful. Therefore, you need to build a lot of self-care and support into this time.
Don’t try to attend every single event. Don’t run yourself ragged, because that will reduce your ability to make smart choices. Instead, select just one or two holiday events that you want to enjoy.
Then cushion the time before and after those events with meetings, therapy appointments, spa days, gym days, and whatever else makes you feel strong in your sobriety.
Here are some additional tips:
- Bring a sober plus-one for support.
- Enjoy a special holidays-only non-alcoholic beverage treat such as sparkling cider.
- Find events with activities you truly enjoy such as dancing, making art, or singing.
- Know your triggers and have an escape plan from any event.
- Leave early if you need to; fun doesn’t have to mean being the last one to leave.
- Volunteer to be of service to others; giving takes your mind off of yourself.
If you have trouble trying to celebrate holidays sober, you might benefit from getting support from substance abuse counseling. Learn more here.