8 Tips for a Sober Holiday Season
Winter, spring, summer, and fall offer numerous holidays to enjoy. But just how can you make the most of sober fun activities? This anonymous quote puts it into perspective: “Having fun is a choice. There is enough fun for each of us. Choosing to have fun depends on you only.” So use the following tips for a sober holiday season that’s merry and bright in all the ways most meaningful to you.
Why the Holidays Can Be Hard
Whether you’re new to sobriety or have cultivated many years of recovery, there can be many challenges to this time of year. In an article for Harvard Health, physician and addiction specialist Peter Grinspoon notes that “the holidays can be a time of unique and profound stress. Part of this stress is related to the freely flowing alcohol that can be found at many holiday events, and another aspect is often related to complex interactions with family members who can be ‘triggers’ for dark and uncomfortable feelings that can even threaten one’s hard-won sobriety.”
If you stick to your daily recovery practice, you can rely on it to provide structure and minimize stress. Harvard also suggests identifying certain situations, which we provide verbatim below, and creating a plan in advance to address them:
- What are your triggers and flash points?
- What scenarios have proven dangerous in the past?
- What kinds of interactions knock you off center?
- Who can you call if/when you start feeling like you’re losing your grip?
- How are you planning to recenter yourself?
- Can you envision yourself just walking away from stressful situations?
The primary point of any holiday is connection. “With recovery comes a blossoming of human connection, interaction, meaning, and hope. In order to recover, we learn tools to keep ourselves centered, such as humility, compassion, listening skills, and mindfulness,” Grinspoon adds. “We learn to ask for help, and not try to internalize and fix all of our problems on our own. The holidays present a perfect opportunity to reach into your recovery toolbox and use any and all of these tools.”
8 Tips for a Sober Holiday Season
Remember, the essence of the holidays is about joy, love, and togetherness. By focusing on these aspects and embracing alternative activities and connections, you can have a fulfilling and happy holiday season without the need for drugs or alcohol.
- Focus on Meaningful Connections
Connection and social interaction can bring immense joy during the holidays, so spend quality time with friends and family. Engage in conversations, play games, share stories, and create lasting memories together.
- Embrace Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life and the holiday season. Take time to reflect on what you’re grateful for through a journal or by simply sharing moments of gratitude with loved ones. Harvard offers additional suggestions for gratitude practices.
- Create New Traditions
Whether it’s baking cookies together, watching classic holiday movies, volunteering with friends and family, or going for a festive walk to admire neighborhood decorations, creating new traditions can bring joy and anticipation.
- Self-Care and Relaxation
Amidst the hustle and bustle, prioritize self-care. Take moments to relax, meditate, or practice mindfulness. Engage in activities that bring you peace and rejuvenation, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a peaceful stroll.
- Celebrate Mindfully
Enjoy the festivities while being mindful of your specific choices. For example, some people use non-alcoholic alternatives as a way to explore new flavors, but for others, these drinks might be triggers for certain cravings and behaviors. Instead, focus on the delicious holiday foods, the laughter, the decorations, and the joyous atmosphere around you. Being present in the moment allows you to fully appreciate any holiday experience.
- Explore Alternative Activities
Seek out events or activities in your community that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Attend holiday concerts, visit local markets, participate in crafting workshops, or join charity events. Engaging in these activities brings a sense of fulfillment and joy.
- Support System
Surround yourself with a supportive network. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed during the holidays, reach out to friends, family, or a support group. Having someone to talk to can significantly improve your mood and outlook.
- Give a Little Back
Speaking of support systems, remember that someone just like you might be trying to navigate the holidays in a more healthful way. If you’re part of a mutual support program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or some other peer group, consider donating your time and expertise. During this time of year, these organizations always need extra volunteers to take phone calls, host a casual coffee shop or home get together, and help out at meetings.
As you participate in various celebrations, remember you always have the ability to, as Grinspoon said, “reach into your recovery toolbox” for all the coping techniques you learned in therapy. This isn’t to say that everything will be stressful—far from it! But just knowing you have a little something extra to count on should put you at ease and in a more festive mood.
Seabrook Cares About Your Recovery
At each of Seabrook’s award-winning addiction treatment centers in New Jersey, our dedicated staff offers alumni every opportunity to enjoy recovery and life every day of the year. If you’d like to connect with other people who have created new ways to celebrate the season, take advantage of Seabrook’s alumni services.