Protecting your sobriety at Christmas
Protecting your sobriety at Christmas is the most important thing you can do for yourself and in fact sobriety is the best Christmas gift! Christmas time and the whole festive season can be triggering, challenging and difficult to manage without feeling tempted or that you might be missing out on some level. But it can also be the most magical experience of your sobriety to date if you take some simple steps to protect yourself and embrace the festive season from a place of love, joy and magic. I’d like to share with you today some tips and advice on protecting your sobriety at Christmas.
Make the decision
The very first step you should take is to make the decision that yes, you will have a wonderful Christmas and you will have it sober. This gets rid of the ‘will I, won’t I?’ conversations within you and is incredible liberating. Protecting your sobriety at Christmas is your responsibility but once you are clear about this then you can take steps to help and support yourself. You should never feel alone, there is support and help out there and if you are feeling especially triggered, anxious, sad or lonely then reach out to your support network whenever you need it.
Plan and prepare
This is possible the most important thing you can do, the more you can prepare in advance for any particular difficult situation then the easier it will be to handle. If you are going out, then find out as much as possible before hand. Who is going, what alcohol free alternatives will there be, can you take your own alcohol free drinks? Plan how to leave early, if necessary. Take a sober friend with you or have the number of a trusted person you can talk to if you need to.
At home, stock up on as many delicious alcohol free drinks as you can, there is a gorgeous range available now so you can still fill your glass with something sparkly and special.
Prepare yourself before going out, having people round or any other tricky situation that might come up. Do visualizations of yourself having a good time and not drinking. Practice saying no and remember you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone, just make something up if you need to.
Plan your sober Christmas with ease this year with the Christmas sobriety Planner
Make time for yourself
I always talk about the importance of self care and alone time, because they are fundamental in sobriety and recovery. This can be a very overwhelming time and you may feel forced to ‘be happy’ and join in with the festivities because of the huge expectations we have that everything has to be perfect and that everyone must have a good time. This added pressure can make you pretend and feign having fun which can be triggering and dangerous if you don’t make time for yourself.
Know your limits and stick to them. If you need to leave the table and sit by yourself for a few minutes, then do it. Never be afraid to leave a party early or go outside and call someone if things get too much.
If early nights are what keep you safe, then don’t stay up late because other people are. Equally if you need to do an early morning walk, or have an afternoon nap, then make sure this alone time is scheduled into your plans and honored.
Connect with other people in your sober community
Depending on where you live, there will often be sober events hosted by the recovery community. Find out if there are any meetings in your area on Christmas day or New Years Eve. Are there any specific alcohol free events in your area that you can go to?
Can you get involved and volunteer your services to a charity or recovery centre? If you can’t face doing the same thing as you have done in Christmases past, then make the effort to do something completely different. Helping and giving brings such a wonderful sense of joy, so do something for other people and don’t sit there by yourself.
If you can’t face doing the same thing as you have done in Christmases past, then make the effort to do something completely different.
Of course, with everything going on in the world right now then you might not be able to physically meet people in person so look online for support groups such as the Blissfully Sober Facebook group where you will feel safe and supported. Remember though that Zoom fatigue is a thing so don’t commit to too much and try and take regular breaks in the fresh air if all of your connection is going to be done online.
Stick to your routines
When everyone around you is going crazy, ‘because it’s Christmas’ protecting your sobriety is even more important. Don’t be tempted to get swept away and undo all the hard work you have put in.
Remember, it is just another day so do what you always do and stick to your routines. Having good morning and evening routines will help so much to keep your grounded and feeling safe and supported.
Go to a meeting if that is what you usually do, don’t skip your meals, don’t forgo your sleep and keep up with your journaling, your meditation, your daily walk or alone time. Whatever it is that works for you, then keep doing it.
Don’t dwell on the past
I had an attack of ‘mom guilt’ this week about Christmases I’d spoilt for my kids by getting drunk on Christmas Eve and then not being truly present for my family the next day. It hurts, and remembering these occasions throws up all sorts of unhappy feelings of guilt, shame and regret.
However, it is so important not to dwell on it too much, otherwise you can find yourself getting more upset, anxious and emotional. Get it off your chest, write these feelings out or talk to someone but don’t hold on to the past. What’s done is done. It’s time to focus on better things, so remember that your sobriety is the best gift you can give yourself and your family this Christmas.
Create New Traditions
This is a lovely way of protecting your sobriety at Christmas and making a wonderful, alcohol free Christmas your new normal. If you always decorated the tree in the evening with wine, then do it in the morning with posh coffee or tea instead.
If you went out on Christmas Eve to a party, then why not go to a carol service or see the lights in your town or drive somewhere and go for a walk with your friends or family.
Make an effort to do something new with your kids too, make your own decorations, make and decorate biscuits or go and do something completely different. My friend is going for a picnic on the beach this year, so you could just get away from it all if you want to. There are no rules to say you have to do what everyone else expects or what you’ve always done.
Keep it simple, keep it safe
At the end of the day, think about what Christmas really means to you. Is it spending time with your family, is it helping, giving or just being with the people you love?
Don’t feel forced to partake in extravagant parties or over indulgent Christmas lunches. Don’t feel under pressure to buy the best gifts or have the most beautifully decorated tree.
Above all, don’t feel under pressure to do something that you don’t want to do ‘Just because it’s Christmas’ Protecting your sobriety at Christmas and staying safe is the most important thing for you, so if you need to just keep it simple. Do what you are comfortable with, and nothing more and do not apologize for it.
Don’t keep things bottled up
Addiction thrives in isolation. Sobriety is all about connection so use your connections. Never keep quiet if you are struggling. Talk to someone in your community or a friend or relative you trust. Holding on to our thoughts, bottling up our feelings and staying stuck in our heads is never a good idea. Talk, write, share, message, or see someone in person before things get too much for you. You are not alone and should never feel that you are.
This time of year is full of joy, love, fun and happiness and just because you are not drinking it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and embrace it all if you want to, it shouldn’t mean isolation and feeling alone or left out. Just be aware that protecting your sobriety at Christmas is your top priority and your responsibility.
I hope this helps you to have a wonderful, sober and safe Christmas this year and if you do need support and accountability over the festive period then come and join us in the Magical AF Christmas Experience
How do you plan on having a magical alcohol free Christmas? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below