If you are celebrating your first sober holiday season and struggling a bit, here are some tips and tools to stay alcohol-free. Socializing during early sobriety can feel daunting. Socializing during the holidays when you’re newly sober can feel undoable. At least that was how I felt in the early days. The following are a few of the things that helped me survive those first alcohol-free holidays.
1. Remember that Alcohol-free is a choice. Your choice.
Know and remember the reason you are quitting. I mean REALLY know the reason. Crystalize it in your mind. Is it because of health reasons? You are about to lose your job? Lose your spouse or children? Are you losing grip on your sanity? Whatever YOUR reason is…. KNOW IT in your mind and keep it there. Don’t get wishy-washy at the party. Write it down and keep it in your wallet or on your phone. Do whatever it takes to remember it!
2. Be ready to talk about why you’re not drinking in a way that works for you.
Know how you will respond to people if they ask you the inevitable question. Why aren’t you drinking? Of course, you do not have to answer this question, but you will probably be asked it often in the early days. I found it helpful to have an answer ready. It does not need to be your real reason. This is so important. The way you answer the question for yourself and the way you answer it for others does not need to be the same.
For example, the real reason I quit was because alcohol was making my life a nightmarish hell. I was so despondent that I was not sure if I wanted to keep living. Was I going to tell casual acquaintances that? Hell, no. I told them that alcohol was triggering migraine headaches and the medication that I was on for them did not allow alcohol consumption. Pretty much end of that conversation. Tell them whatever you want or nothing but be prepared for the scenario.
Know how you are going to handle “the question” and be prepared. Practice what you are or not going to say. Be ready.
3. Set your boundries and don’t be shy about it
Be prepared to leave the party when you decide that you need to go. Don’t stay any longer than you feel you are prepared to handle. Most partiers are not going to notice your exit. If they challenge you be prepared with your exit excuse. Gotta go… babysitter needs to go home, I have a headache, stomachache, project due at work, etc. Just be prepared with something to say.
4. Let yourself feel proud of staying sober.
It is okay to feel a bit smug in knowing that you will be waking up the following day feeling great without a hangover (and many at the party will be feeling like crap). 😉
My partner and I have really enjoyed being sober during Covid. The act, the life, the benefits, of being sober are important to us! One either values being sober or values getting pissed! Living alcohol-free is a choice and we know and understand that there are times of temptation but there is NO going back for us! This is precious! And priceless! Eventually, we all must decide. It is a choice.
Christmas, for me, is not a happy time. I try to be away from home, overseas, however 2020 has fixed that idea so we are picnicking on the day, with a cool friend and her family. They are big drinkers. It will be challenging for us sober oldies. My friend has already said she will not be emulating us. I told her we will not be drinking. She was not negative, just said she will not be sober! So we intend to let her enjoy what she is drinking, we will enjoy what we are drinking, and together we will celebrate the joy of sharing the holiday. We’ve drunk Mc Guigan’s 0.0 shiraz and will be taking a few bottles of nice wine/champagne, as our small (unrequired) contribution to the seafood picnic/feast with our friends.
If you are looking for festive alcohol-free alternatives to celebrate this holiday season there are so many great choices on the market now. We’ve discovered Heineken 0.0 beer and it is good! Kombucha, ginger beer with squeezed lime juice and a lime wedge over ice, Pellegrino citrus sodas mixed 50-50 with sparkling water for a not-too-sweet fizzy treat, Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher is very tasty if you like hops, I found a really sweet alcohol-free Persian drink called sekanjabin that’s kind of time-consuming but tasty – Sekanjabin (Iranian Mint Vinegar Syrup) and Total Wine in the US has a great selection of NA beers.
I stumbled over a dusty little book recently that was a gift from my grandmother to my parents on their wedding day in 1961. It was published by a company called Peter Pauper Press over 60 years ago and is called “Holiday Punches, Party Bowls and Soft Drinks“. Before we drank mocktails and talked about @sober curious and @alcohol-free, there were people who drank and people who didn’t and people who were taking a break.
Inside the front cover, it reads
It’s a choice – and a colorful, creative, flovorful choice to be present and alcohol free .
In 1961 and in 2020.
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