Tips for a Sober Thanksgiving
Tips for a Sober Thanksgiving
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – and the start of what recovery folks sometimes refer to as the “Holiday Trifecta.” Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be fun, festive and an opportunity to spend time with friends and loved ones. They can also be stressful, expensive and depressing. And there is a lot of alcohol consumption. Statistically, DUIIs go up and alcohol and drug-related admits to hospitals increase between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
Whether you are new in recovery or have some time put together, it’s worth having a plan for staying sober and sane through the holidays.
Here are some reminders and tips for enjoying a sober Thanksgiving and kicking the holiday season off on the right foot.
Easy Does It (But Do It)
Everything is going to feel a little extra rushed. Remember to breathe and find your pause when agitated. It can feel overwhelming when you are trying to get all of the things done. Give yourself permission to cut a few corners, step back from commitments or just take a little extra time getting wherever you’re going. Be easy with yourself and resist the urge to get swept up in the holiday rush.
Let Go of Expectations
The ideas we carry of how a holiday should look can be some of the biggest sources of anxiety, frustration and even disappointment. Maybe you can’t be with your family this year. Or you had a vision of the perfect Thanksgiving meal that didn’t quite come together the way you’d planned. Let go of expectations and give yourself permission to create new traditions and enjoy the holiday just as it is.
Stay Rooted in your Recovery
Whatever your program of recovery consists of, stick with it or even double up this time of year. If you’re involved in 12-step recovery – don’t skimp on meetings. If you start your day with some prayer or meditation, keep with it and maybe even end the day with it. Gratitude lists, exercise, hot baths – you get the idea—make time for the activities and practices that help you manage stress and stay connected to your program.
Show up in Service
There is a saying “if you want self-esteem, do estimable acts.” When it comes to the holidays, it’s amazing how showing up in the spirit of service can help boost your mood and lower feelings of anxiety or awkwardness. This can mean offering to wash dishes, volunteering for a few hours before heading to the family get together or just making a point to ask each person in your family how they are doing and then listening with empathy.
Have an Exit Plan
It’s okay to arrive late and leave early. It’s okay to leave in the middle. It’s even okay to sit Thanksgiving out. If you do have plans, have a plan for leaving if things get stressful or uncomfortable. If this is your first sober Thanksgiving give yourself permission to protect your sobriety and sanity if it means avoiding people, places and things associated with your drinking or using. And if you do go, check in with a sober friend, have a plan for how long you’ll stay and be okay with leaving early if you need to.
Whatever happens, you can always ask for help. Call a sober friend, call your sponsor, go to a meeting or check in with your Serenity Lane alumni peers.