Enjoying Your Holiday Season while Sober

The upcoming holidays mean various things to various people. We like to spend time with family, show generosity to others and eat and drink to our heart’s content. If you’re one of the millions of Americans that have decided to opt out of the drinking portion of this tradition, it may be a challenge.

People have all different reasons for choosing not to drink alcohol over the holidays (or in general). For some, it may be something they’ve found they can’t control so it’s easier to not imbibe at all. For others, maybe they’ve decided to change their diet and have a healthier lifestyle-I’ve known long distance runners and triathletes who have found that drinking slows down their progress. Whatever your reason, if this is something new for you-it’s ok to be a little uncertain or anxious about how to handle the season differently.

Most people worry about how to handle the stress of the holiday without alcohol or are concerned what other people will think if they’re not drinking. For those who are used to attending parties and get togethers with a drink in hand, it may feel like your glass of soda has a giant spotlight on it and everyone around you is going to ask a million questions about why you’re not drinking your usual. The truth of the matter is, if drinking has caused a problem in your life-you’ll be amazed at how much less stressful the holidays are when you’re sober. Also, most people don’t know what you’re drinking-people actually pay much less attention to things like that than we think. And if someone notices and asks why you’re not drinking-there are a million reasons you can give them. Including, “I don’t want to”-there is no reason to go into any more detail than you’re comfortable with.

It’s important to know what to expect and have some practical ideas of how to make the most of a sober holiday season. Here are just a few:

-Have a plan. Think about how you want to spend your holidays and recognize what places and events will have alcohol. Decide ahead of time what you want to drink or bring your own non alcoholic beverage-that way you won’t be caught off guard while you’re in the situation.

-Bring a sober buddy. Invite a friend or family member to an event where you’re unsure how you’ll feel not drinking. Make sure it’s someone who is supportive of what you’re doing and agrees to not drink as well. If someone can’t go with you-ask some friends to be available by text when you’ll be at the event so you can vent or get support if you start to feel like you want to drink.

-Keep a list of reasons you’re doing this. Keep that list in your phone or wallet or anywhere that’s accessible-it’ll be good to have reminders of why you decided not to drink.

-Don’t be afraid to leave. If you’re feeling really uncertain and think you’ll drink if you stay-just leave. If remaining sober during this time is important to you, others will understand.

-Stay busy, be helpful. Staying busy gives us less time to think and ruminate on all the things that worry us so we’re less likely to drink out of anxiety. Helping the host or hostess or just being there for someone having a hard time also takes the focus off of us and it makes us feel good.

Hopefully, these tips can help you enjoy a safe and sober holiday season. If you’re still struggling and think you may have a problem with drinking or other substances a licensed psychotherapist can help. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.


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