How to Celebrate Sober
The holidays can be a blessing and a curse for people new to recovery: celebrating sober after years of using drugs or alcohol can be challenging but also so fulfilling. Being sober is something to celebrate all on its own – something to be thankful for and appreciate alone and with your sober support network. Navigating celebrations with co-workers, family traditions or rituals, and other special occasions takes planning and focus, but the results can be truly wonderful. Try some of these suggestions to help you create your own sober celebrations and traditions.
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- Get outside!
Spending time outdoors, even if the weather isn’t perfect, can be a wonderful way to celebrate the season. Building a snowman or going for a walk are activities you can enjoy with family members young and old, and you don’t need anything special in terms of clothes, gear, or equipment. And it’s free! Ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing are all options for the slightly more ambitious but the basic idea of spending time outside having fun is the same.
- Don’t shop; create!
Spending time and money buying gifts can end up making you feel stressed and tense. The battle for a parking space, the crowds, and the mind-numbing array of stuff… it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Try making gifts instead, as an activity you can enjoy with family members or friends. Baking quick breads, cookies or gingerbread, sewing throw pillows, or knitting or crocheting scarves or mittens can be a great way to shift the focus away from the hustle and bustle of shopping. Less stress, more creativity, less worry about money, and more time with family – these are all components of fulfilling sober celebrations.
- Stay home.
Throw the party at your home and do not serve alcohol. Hosting the celebration can be stressful, and certainly entails a lot of work, but it can also be a way for you to ensure that the celebrating is alcohol free. You can plan activities and games for both children and adults, and help structure the event so that people have fun and interact. Some family members may balk at first but most will end up thanking you for creating a wonderful experience.
- Consider doing something for others.
Look into local groups that may need a hand during the holiday season and volunteer your time helping others. Giving your time to those less fortunate can form the foundation of a holiday tradition of thankfulness and generosity. These are the kinds of emotions you want to cultivate in sobriety – not stress, resentment or disappointment.
- If you must attend social functions where alcohol will be served, don’t go alone.
Be sure to bring a sober friend or family member to help you handle the triggers and challenges being in that environment may create. Plan to leave early; explain your early departure to your host in advance so that no misunderstandings take place.
Talk with your family members, your friends, your sponsor, and your partner about how you’re feeling. Share your plans, and talk about your fears or worries. Don’t pretend to be fine; just be honest about how hard staying sober is and ask for the support you need.
- Get religion!
Try joining a house or worship, or rekindle your relationship with the religious group you already belong to. The holidays are a perfect time to connect or reconnect with your religious background and deepen your faith. Reading religious texts, and exploring how your religious beliefs can support your sobriety is a perfect way to deepen your commitment to sobriety. Holiday services can be beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring too!
- Remember to take good care of yourself.
Do your best to maintain your regular routine, getting to bed on time and sleeping as well as you can. Continue with your self-care routines, whether that’s meditation, yoga class, or other time you set aside just for you. Yes, it might feel selfish or impossible every day, but at least a few times each week throughout the season be sure to take that time and focus on yourself. You’ll be calmer, happier, and better able to face all the holiday challenges if you do.
- The holiday season tends to toss sweet treats in your path at every turn.
Cookies and other sweetened snacks may be traditional, but they can be a pitfall for people in recovery. Overdoing sugary foods can wreak havoc with your blood sugar, making you more susceptible to cravings and moodiness. Your best defense is eating well-balanced healthy meals and snacks. As long as you’re eating well overall, a splurge here and there should be fine.
Celebrating as a sober person is not only possible – it can be a delightful and intimate family experience. It is the stuff good memories are made of, so be brave, positive, and creative and enjoy your new traditions!