A special holiday bonus blog from one of our Café RE members!
Holiday Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks
By: Adrienne (Café RE GO)
The holidays are coming and everyone is drinking….Sending out an SMS (Save My Sobriety)!!
We’ve all been there. The annual holidays set in and the only non-drinkers are you and the kids!
The question you may be asking yourself is…
How do I stay strong when the holiday vibe is booming and everyone is in party mode celebrating all that we have to be grateful for?”
To reframe this question I would ask…
How do I honor myself and my goals of sobriety in this time of annual appreciation for myself and my loved ones?”
How do I want to celebrate in a way that is relaxing, Fun (Rule 22 here from Café RE), and supports me feeling great in the moment and the following day?
Play the tape forward and then imagine yourself remembering the gathering; how do you want that to look or feel?
What tools will I bring with me to keep me accountable to the life I want to live? (The tools are different for everyone.)
For me, I bring my smartphone so I can stay close to my supports (Café RE peeps). I bring AF drinks (Athletic Brewing Co., Run Wild NA beer is a favorite). I bring an open mind. I’ve even brought my list of my why’s before tucked in a back pocket. And I bring an exit plan. The exit plan is my trap door and it’s a must. This could include me just leaving the party without saying I’m doing so, I may tell someone close to me that I’m out, or I may do the long goodbye; you know the one with all the hugging :).
What do I say if they offer me a drink or ask why I’m not drinking? There are several ways to come at this.
You can bring your own drinks, if it’s an AF beer odds are they won’t even notice that you aren’t actually drinking the poison (I’ve tested this one out). If offered a drink; “sure I’ll have a water”.
If further probing into why you aren’t drinking stick to the facts. You could say your not drinking anymore, you could say you are driving, you could say you aren’t drinking tonight. The secret to this scenario is you are more invested in what’s going on with your path than they are. Most people don’t really want the laundry list of your alcohol history. They want to know, are you in or are you out. Odds are they won’t even care what your ingesting once they are in the haze.
If things get awkward change the subject, use the bathroom to regroup, put your needs first, and if all else fails…trap door my friend.
Buuuuut….What if they think I’m boring?. First, who are they specifically? Is there really a they or is it just your inner dialogue trying to sabotage you with old thought patterns?
Listen….YOU ARE NOT BORING! You are your beautiful, authentic, one and only self! Sober life is anything but boring.
Buuuuut…What if they think I’m judging them or they are bummed I won’t drink with them?
Oh that’s right, the people pleasing!
I know it well friends. If I do the thing they want then they will like me, think I’m cool, and/or want to hang out with me.
Maybe that’s all true, but is it worth compromising your own comfort for theirs?
In the moment this may be uncomfortable but I’m asking you to stay with it. Exposure to our fears/triggers and staying the course is important field work to success. Every time you overcome a situation with your own tools for change and growth you get stronger! Each time you succeed you are gaining experience to draw from that proves that you can navigate life and socialize sober! You learn who is an ally in your life, who to put your energy toward, and who you want to develop relationships with.
On this holiday season my wish for you is that you put your needs first, protect your sobriety, be gentle with yourself, and please listen and honor yourself. I hope you find all the joy that exists with your family and friends
A layered cake. That’s what I picture when I think about the next couple months. The bottom layer is the upcoming holiday season. And during a ‘normal’ year the holiday season can be stressful because…
…because of feeling overwhelmed, not getting everything on your todo list done.
…because family. Nuff said.
…because your vision of what the holidays ‘should’ look like, looks nothing like what yours actually do look like.
…because what once looked so far away, the year’s end, is now right before your eyes…and you are still standing there with a list of unmet goals.
…because you’re lonely. You don’t do well in crowds. You’re exhausted. You’re broke.
Now take all that ‘normal’ year holiday stuff and add on another layer…a big fat layer of global pandemic.
Hold up…not done yet! Let’s go ahead and add one more layer…the “I want to stay sober through it all’ layer.
If you are newly sober, and this will be your first sober holiday season, you may be feeling a little (maybe a lot) nervous and anxious…that’s normal, and you are not alone. Stay with me here and we’ll get to some tips that can help.
For those of you that have some sober time under your belt, you know how good it feels, and what that inner freedom feels like, when you get through a holiday season alcohol free. These tips may help you too.
Self care is a must. You’ve ditched the booze! That’s a grande size of self care!! But there is more you can do in the self care arena, and taking care of your body, mind and soul is important during these stressful times. Healthy eats, plenty of water, enough sleep, physical activity, slowing down, stopping to breath, and making time for meditation. All very important and will help you get through the season. Here is a 5 minute meditation you can do anywhere!
Be mindful of what you’re drinking and thinking. (Not to be confused with ‘mindful drinking’, which is a movement I’ll explore in a later blog.) When headed to a social gathering or holiday party don’t go empty handed. Bring your own NA beverage or, if you know there will be NA options there get one right away. When you are prepared and have a beverage in hand people won’t be constantly asking you if you want a drink. Having a drink in your hand also helps you not look so awkward when you don’t know what to do with your hands.
Plan ahead. There are a number of simple things you can do ahead of time…before you get to the party…that will help reduce your angst. Drive yourself, so you can leave when YOU need to. Arrive late, leave early. Yes you are sober, but no that does not mean you have to be the designated driver, that can be triggering…drunk people are annoying (shocker!) and you may not like your drunk friends the next day. Have a friend or two on standby that you can call or text if needed.
You are going to be asked why, so have your response ready. “You’re not drinking? Why aren’t you drinking? For how long aren’t you drinking? You are never drinking again?!?!” They are going to ask…the questions will come. Because in this backwards society we live in, where drinking is the norm…if you decide to go alcohol free…you’re the odd one. You don’t owe anyone an answer. But not being prepared when this question is thrown at you can make the situation even more uncomfortable. Keep it short and simple if you want. “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Because.” The end.
Out with the old, in with the new…create new traditions. Change the setting. If you’ve always spent Thanksgiving dinner over at Aunt Mary’s…where you would have a little turkey with a lot of wine, then maybe you should offer to host the dinner at your house. Change the time. 4 pm Christmas dinner at the in-laws with all 20 cousins too much, try going over there for brunch. Do something completely different from your familiar holiday activities. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter or to walk the dogs at your local animal shelter. Giving and being of service is one of the best things you can do during the holidays, it helps you get out of your own head and focus on others.
First and foremost, make your sobriety your top priority, because it is. Every morning set your intention..tell yourself that you are not going to drink. No matter what. Eliminate the option of drinking altogether. Remind yourself why you made the decision to live a life without alcohol…and that your ongoing sobriety is the biggest, most important, gift of the season.
And always eat the cake.
Until next time, be well,
Kerri Mac 🤟🏽