How to stay sober during the holidays

how to stay sober during the holidays

Navigating how to stay sober during the holidays can be rough. If you’re equipped with the right tools, it will help to alleviate some of the cravings.

Its holiday season, which is such a beautiful time of year. From all the delicious baked goods to the decorations to all of the festivities.  I can’t seem to get enough of everything.  Everyone’s smiling.  The smell of chestnuts roasting.  The window displays.  There’s magic EVERYWHERE.

But when you’re struggling with sobriety, it can get tough and feel more like a battle rather than a time that’s meant to be magical.  And that’s what it is.  Both your sobriety and the holidays are filled with magic.  Allowing it be miraculous is the key to your own success. 

Fighting your own mind to stay sober is a challenge in of itself; harder during the holidays.  Struggling with sobriety during the season of magic is even more difficult. Especially when it seems that everywhere you look, people are drinking. 

Sadly somewhere along the way, holiday season became more than spreading the wealth of happiness; its somehow turned into a time of gluttonous debauchery.  Luxuriating in all five senses while racking up credit card debt.  Alcohol is certainly no exception. From the office parties to family dinners to spiked cider while wrapping presents. 

Allow yourself to feel the magic of the holiday season

When you’re in the beginning stages of sobriety or thinking about quitting drinking, navigating holiday season without a drink in hand can be a bit tricky. It doesn’t have to be a total damper on your mood though.  

As long as you stand behind your convictions, you won’t succumb to temptation witnessing everyone else drinking or encouraging you to have just one drink.  Now, it may not be the easiest, but it’s only as difficult as you make it to be.  

Having struggled with alcohol for nearly eleven years before sobering up over three years ago, I learned how to survive myself.  Creating new and healthy routines and habits in the beginning stages of your sobriety are so critical for your success. Especially during the holidays.  

Which is what I had done; ended the love affair with my best friend just as the parties were approaching.  In the process, I developed techniques to ride the waves of recovery.  That’s what it’s all about today. How to stay sober during the holidays.

Let’s get started, shall we?

1.     Gracefully bow out of parties and events

If you don’t feel comfortable being surrounded with drinkers, then you don’t have to attend the event.  You always have a choice so your own sobriety shouldn’t have to be jeopardized because you feel that you’re going to miss out or feel the need to say yes.  You don’t have to announce that you’ve quit drinking and that’s why you’re not going.  

Simply saying that you have prior commitments you have to attend to will suffice.  If you feel the pressure and need to go to a party because that next promotion is depending on your attendance, then go for whatever amount of time is your limit and leave.  But stay true to your decision and stand behind it.  

Don’t allow yourself to be seduced into staying longer if it doesn’t feel right for you.  You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your level of comfort ability because others want you around.

When I first quit drinking, I declined some offers for holiday parties because I didn’t want to place myself in compromising situations.  Now, I’m able to go to bars and restaurants without any struggle with it.  But, it took time for me to get to a place of security with myself and my sobriety before I could get to this point.  

2.     Remember why you made the commitment to quit drinking

When you first say sayonara to the booze, it’s important that you reflect on your motivation for your sobriety.  When the temptation arises, because it will, go back to why you decided to quit.  In revisiting that commitment to yourself, you’ll learn that nothing can stand in the way of you and your recovery.  

During my first holiday season being sober, this is what I did when I was surrounded by people who were drinking.  Believe me, there were several occasions that I wanted to drink during the holidays.  I felt awkward and pissed off being the odd man out.  

Stay true to yourself

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I berated myself for lacking the capabilities of drinking like a normal person. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, that it does absolutely nothing but make you want to attempt to control your level of drinking, which only gets worse.  But, knowing that I couldn’t handle my drinking, I kept reminding myself of why I was not drinking anymore.  

As I saw peoples’ faces getting flushed and heard their speech getting slurred, the easier it got for me to abstain from drinking.  And it will for you too.  

Habits take on average 21 days to be created and a lifestyle takes 90 days of repetitious behavior.  It’s just about your commitment to yourself for yourself.  This is about you so placing emphasis on the brand new you that’s emerging is the gift .

Creating new habits are such a wonderful way to stay sober during the holidays. With time, it becomes a lifestyle. It’s a souvenir of your recovery.

3.     Allow yourself to feel emotions (even the bad ones)

Now this may not be something that you want to read or you may even be thinking how feeling your emotions can be productive for your own sobriety, but it actually does have a tremendous effect on your healing journey.  I’m sure it’s safe to say that when you were drinking, one reason was that you didn’t want to feel the very emotions you were running away from.  And because you chose to drown your sorrows in booze, it became easier to repress all that junk.  

Don’t repress your emotions

If ignoring your emotions continues to be a pattern, it’s only a matter of time before the drinking starts to take precedence in your life once again.  Which is the exact opposite of what you want.  Forget what’s advertised about you having to be merry during the holidays. That’s an unreasonable expectation.  

I’m definitely not advocating to be Ebenezer when it’s the season to be jolly.  But, if you’re angry with someone or something, you gotta feel it.  Don’t wallow.  Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling.  You’ll get nip it in the butt right then and there instead of getting consumed with it later down the road. Which may wind up sabotaging your sobriety.  

You know what happens from there…you get drunk and the person who is not the object of your affection gets subjected to your wrath.  The next day rolls around with you apologizing profusely for your actions. That vicious cycle keeps repeating with no end.  I’m sure you get the point.  

As long as you don’t hold back what you’re feeling, you’ll manage to coast through the holiday season with your sobriety in tact.

4.     Take time for yourself

Holiday season can make us feel like headless chickens.  When we feel like the sacrificial lamb to everyone and have no time to ourselves, it’s easy to withdraw from life with a drink.  Or maybe pouring that glass of wine because you absolutely can’t stand so and so’s voice and hearing their egocentric stories.  

Yup, been there and boy, it was so much easier for me to start drinking to zone out whatever person I didn’t want to hear.  And trying to juggle work when it was the busiest time of the year for me while trying to have a semblance of a personal life only made it more difficult.  

Every time that you feel overwhelmed, it’s important to take a mini reprieve so that you don’t fall down the rabbit hole.  If you need to go hide in a closet for some you time, by all means do that.  It’s ok to walk away for a few minutes. 

Because if it’s preventing you from getting annihilated, it’s still more graceful and dignified.  Take it easy on yourself and don’t over exert yourself just to make others happy.

Breathe in your zen. Taking a time out to recalibrate is so pivotal for your wellbeing, which in turn will help you to stay sober during the holidays.

5.     Create new holiday traditions

Oh, this was my favorite way to stay sober during the holidays during my first year of recovery.

The holidays have certainly become a time of mass consumerism, but it’s the traditions that make this time of year so magical.  When we can spread the joy to others and ourselves without breaking the bank, it becomes so much more special.  

Whether you’re a traditionalist or not, now is definitely the time to create new ways to enjoy the holidays to help you stay sober. When you have something to look forward to other than drinking, the need for alcohol dissipates.  

Some traditions to try:

  • take a day to yourself or with your kiddos to watch holiday movies with some popcorn and hot cocoa
  • bake holiday cookies and sweets with your friends- you can even alternate weekends with your friends for who is going to host so that you have a calendar filled with events.  
  • make a day of perusing all the window displays.  
  • take a road trip to a quaint little Christmas town for a weekend.  

Whatever it is that you can think of, take the time to create a new holiday tradition.  

In developing a special something for a special time of the year, you’ll be creating more magic in your life.  Couldn’t we all use a little more magic?  You won’t be disappointed.  

And there you have it…how to stay sober during the holidays.  

Tis the season of magic so allow it be filled with miracles.  Your sobriety doesn’t have to be jeopardized during the most beautiful time of the year.  It’s meant to celebrate your life and those that you have with you.  Enjoy your rebirth.  You have a second chance for a reason.  So make it count.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a struggle.  It’s only as easy or as difficult as you make it to be.  The choice is yours.  

 If you feel that someone can benefit from this, please be sure to share it with them. 

See ya soon.

 In the meantime, stay zenspired and feel the magic everywhere!



The holidays are stressful as it is. Your sobriety doesn't have to be.

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