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Tips for Having a Merry, Sober Christmas

Tips On How To Spend Christmas Sober

There’s no doubt about it; the holidays can be equal parts stressful and enjoyable.

“The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests—stress and depression,” the Mayo Clinic reports, citing the season’s assortment of demands, from parties to shopping and entertaining, as the primary reason for the rise in anxiety.

Getting through the holidays can be especially stressful for those who are dealing with an addiction, particularly if they are newly sober. But holding onto your sobriety and having a fantastic holiday at the same time are more than doable. Here are five savvy ways to get into the holiday spirit without the spirits.

Set Time Aside for Yourself

From visiting distant relatives to attending your boss’s annual Christmas party, the holiday season can seem filled to the brim with social and professional engagements.

As delightful as these gatherings can be, they can also be overwhelming, especially for those who are accustomed to attending events under the influence. To mitigate the stress of being “on” for others, consider scheduling in some solo time, whether it’s an evening of watching your favorite Christmas flicks at home or a morning bike ride. “Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything,” says the Mayo Clinic.

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Invite a Sober Friend

Attending a party where nearly everyone else is bound to be sipping on a drink or two?

Bring along a sober friend. Their mere presence beside you will help you feel supported, and their advice and encouragement may keep you from giving into the social pressure of having “just one” with your friends and family. Having someone who you trust with you to keep you from indulging can be one of the most effective plans you can make in preparation for the holiday season.

Stick to Your Healthy Habits

One of the many boons of sobriety is that it organically encourages healthy habits that go beyond abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Whatever wholesome practices you’ve cultivated in sobriety—an organic diet, jogging, a smart sleeping schedule—should be maintained throughout the holiday season. Without them, you may feel ungrounded, which might increase your stress levels (and potentially lead to a relapse).

Let Go of Perfectionism

Expectations around Christmas are exceptionally high. We want to find the most beautiful Christmas tree, to make the most delicious feast, and to find just the right present.

“We think this should be a perfect time, the food will be perfect, and our conversations will be respectful,” an expert and sociology professor at Oakland University told Popular Science. “But when our realities don’t match that, we get frustrated.” What’s more, the pressure to have the “perfect” holiday can put your sobriety in peril by amplifying your anxiety. To safeguard your abstinence, try to adjust your expectations and focus on the moment before you.

Remember to Give Back

Helen Keller put it brilliantly when she wrote, “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”

Volunteering at your local soup kitchen, spending a Saturday clearing litter from a park, or donating time to a food bank can all be wonderful, sober ways to spend part of your holiday season. Not only will these particular endeavors and other charitable efforts fill the idle time that may lead to a relapse, but they’ll also invite gratitude into your heart for what you’ve endured and what you’ve been given: the gift of sobriety and the countless ways it can bring you joy, now and throughout every season.

If you or a loved one are dreading the holidays and how it might impact your sobriety, please don’t hesitate to call our 24-hour addiction hotline: 1-800-910-3734. Our knowledgeable staff would be happy to provide you with more tips on having a merry sober Christmas, or to answer any questions you might have about getting into a recovery program.

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