The holiday season brings with it fun parties, family get-togethers, and work gatherings. But it is also one of the most popular times of the year for people to consume alcohol.
Commonly known as the “Holiday Effect,” special occasions are a time when people drink more. One study even found that Americans double their drinking habits between Thanksgiving and New Year. It is seen as a time when people are allowed to overindulge and increase their alcohol consumption.
This mindset is sometimes related to the mindset of renewing their efforts to limit drinking as part of a New Year’s resolution.
If you’re concerned about falling into old habits this holiday season, here are seven ways you can stay sober and still enjoy this time of year.
1. Make an Actionable Plan
The more you can be direct in your efforts to avoid alcohol, the more prepared you’ll be to stay sober. Some of the most actionable tips to include in your plan are:
- Go to a 12-Step meeting prior to any holiday events.
- Keep in contact with your sponsor on a regular basis.
- Always bring your own vehicle to holiday parties.
- Invite sober friends to join you as a support system for one another.
- Avoid difficult people and stressful situations that may cause a desire to drink.
- Be prepared to politely refuse anyone who offers you alcoholic beverages.
- Leave any events that make it difficult for you to maintain your sobriety.
2. Roleplay Scenarios in Your Head
A great tactic to prepare for uncomfortable situations is to think about the possible outcomes and have an “elevator speech” ready. For example, before you attend a work party, think about how you will react if a co-worker offers you a drink. Consider how you will politely decline and move on to a different conversation. This practice will better prepare you to refuse if or when the time comes.
3. Stay Busy
Keeping your mind and body active are great ways to keep yourself sober over the holidays. Seek out ways to be productive and stay busy. You can bake and decorate cookies, spend time with loved ones, or start a new project that will keep your mind focused on other things.
4. Practice Proper Self-care
Part of staying sober during the holiday season is taking care of yourself and even spoiling yourself a bit. Ensure you are eating well and getting the nutrients you need from your daily meals. Stay fit and healthy by exercising at least a few times a week, and make sure you get enough sleep at night to keep your mind sharp. You may even consider enjoying a day at the spa or finding another way to escape the stresses of everyday life.
5. Serve Others
Holidays are a great time to give back to others in the form of service. Search for opportunities to volunteer at places like homeless shelters, elderly homes, or even orphanages. Showing love and selflessness is a great way to keep your mind off your own struggles.
6. Avoid Being Alone
The holidays are a time of joy and gratitude, but they can also bring feelings of depression or loneliness. Do everything you can to spend your time with family, friends, and other loved ones. They can be a great source of love and support for you during this time of year.
7. Keep Recovery Materials Handy
If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you bring sobriety materials to keep you on track. This may include booklets, recordings, or videos you can view as needed. The more resources you have available, the more support you’ll feel.
8. Maintain Your Spirituality
Our commercial world wants us to believe that joy can come from tinsel, booze, and shopping. It sells us the lie that happiness can be found in these. Instead, focus on the true spirit of the season. Regardless of your faith or spiritual beliefs, the holidays are really about two things: giving and gratitude. When we focus on these, the other things such as resentment, disappointment, anger, worry, self-loathing show up far less often and cannot find a foothold in our hearts. Practicing spiritual principles can play a key role in staying sober year-round.
Get Help with Staying Sober Over the Holidays
If you find yourself struggling to avoid alcohol or drugs during the holiday season, it is a great time to get the help you need. Work with a trusted team that will help you overcome your substance use and work with you to find ways to avoid it in the future.
You can rely on Matthew’s Hope Detox & Recovery Program to be there for you when you need us. Get in touch today and see how we can help you.