🎄 Christmas Survival Guide 🎄
I wrote something similar to this last year, because much as Christmas is an amazing, magical time to be with your family and friends, it can be a pretty stressful time too, especially for those of us who are sober, and even more so for those of us who are newly sober or struggling with recovery.
Of course, things are going to be even harder this year with the added complication of Covid-19… I don’t even know what to say about that element, so I’m not going to, it’s just something else to deal with. My point is that whether you’ve been sober for years or you’re only a few days or weeks into sobriety it can be a hard time. Everywhere we turn, we are reminded how Christmas is marketed with alcohol as an integral part of the festivities. Of course, there are the predictable elements, of making sure all the presents are bought and the shopping is done, but also there are other factors, like going out for meals or parties and meeting up with friends and family, some of whom you might not see for the rest of the year. It can be exhausting, and that is before we even talk about not drinking. Whether it is your first Christmas without drinking or you’ve done a few, it can prove a bit of a challenge.
This is not a definitive guide, it’s just a few things I’ve picked up along the way and hope will help. Please let me know if you’ve got any other ideas that I can add to it. 😊
🎄 It’s not just you! (#1)
There are many people who choose not to drink. It’s a struggle to stop, but you are not on your own, even when it feels like it.
🎄 Only go to the events you really want to. (Probably much easier this year with all the tiers and restrictions!)
It’s hard enough to psych yourself up for things you want to do. Don’t use your energy going to things you aren’t feeling up to. It’s likely that it will end badly or put you off going out to other events. It may see scary to let other people down, but it might be better for you in the long run.
🎄 It’s not just you! (#2)
Other people have struggles too. You could feel awkward but they probably can’t see it, just like you can’t see their insecurities.
🎄 Don’t be afraid to leave early.
You might have had a good time, you might not, but don’t feel you have to stay to the end. Leave the night on a high and you’ll probably feel more up to another night out. Stretching it out could ruin it for you and to be honest, if everyone else is drinking, they might not even notice you go!
🎄 It’s not just you (#3)
Keep remembering, you aren’t alone. It’s a hard fight, but there are other people wanting to do it, doing it or having done it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Just keep going.
🎄 Have an escape plan.
Like me, in the beginning you might not want to make it common knowledge that you aren’t drinking. I kept it private for a long time, and so it could work for you to have a plan, just in case things get too much. If you have a back up plan, you can get away when you need too.
🎄 It not just you (#4)
There are so many people out there in exactly the same place as you!
🎄 Have an excuse!
If you really want to go and really don’t want to tell people the truth, and are afraid that it will be awkward, just have an excuse ready. Maybe you’re on antibiotics? Maybe you’re in training for a marathon? Maybe you are driving? Not that you need a reason!
🎄 It’s not just you (#5)
I think I’ve covered that it isn’t just you, but keep remembering it, it really helps!
When things are hard remind yourself that you can drink, you just make the choice not to. When things get really hard, remind yourself why you made that choice.
Support groups might work, but they might not. You don’t have to meet people to have support though, there are plenty of online groups you can join. Likewise, I found reading so helpful, other people’s experiences helped me remember that I wasn’t alone, and that other people had walked the same path before me and survived. In fact, not only had they survived but it was worth the struggle.
🎄 Enjoy it!
Remember this, you will probably have a fab time. You’ll remember everything you say, and everything you do. You don’t have to worry that you might have ‘one too many’ and embarrass yourself and when someone else does, you’ll remember that too!
I hope this helps, even just a little bit, I know that I felt nervous before my first couple of non-drinking events, and even now, I don’t choose to go to many. I’d rather do other things now, so they have to be good for me to go!
Let me know how your festive season goes though, and if any of these ideas work for you!