5 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays (While Social Distancing)

The holidays are already a difficult time to stay sober for some and 2020 really isn’t cutting us any slack. If you’re someone who enjoys seeing family this time of year and taking a much-needed break from the stresses of your everyday life, COVID-19 has made that more difficult, and this can make it hard to stay away from a drink.

Although the next couple of months may be more difficult than usual, there are a few things you can do to keep your sobriety intact this holiday season.

1. Choose Your Events Wisely

Although there may be fewer events to attend this year, thanks to social distancing restrictions, you may still be invited to various events this holiday season that ignores COVID-19 guidelines. Regardless of your fears or lack of fears about coronavirus, you should do yourself a favor and only choose the events that you know won’t be triggering or leave you feeling worse off at the end.

Think about which events are the most important for you to attend, for yourself, and not for anyone else. Your sobriety should be your number one priority and those who care about you should understand that also. Whether you choose to go see your family at a small gathering, or you look forward to a Friendsgiving every year, make sure you’re making the right decision for you.

2. Look for an Online AA Meeting

If you haven’t already been attending AA meetings online, this is a great option right now while many locations are unable to hold in-person gatherings. These are also great during the holidays if you want to continue having meetings with the same people but are traveling during the next month or so.

Online meetings can require more concentration and may be difficult to engage with at first, but the overall structure and purpose remain the same. Online AA meetings follow a similar structure to regular AA meetings, however, can come with difficulties that many of us have been facing in 2020 with group video calls. Technical difficulties aside, an online AA meeting is still better than none and can really help you stay sober during the holidays.

If Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t quite enough this holiday season, you may need to consider additional treatment. Call 800-839-1686Who Answers? to speak to a treatment advisor today.

3. Meditate and Practice Mindfulness

Whether you’re at home or an event, if you ever have any triggering or difficult moments, always remember you have your meditations available to you to help you through them. Social distancing during the holidays this year may make you feel more alone and make you want to reach for a drink—practicing mindfulness can help you overcome these urges and help you get through the holidays.

The Alcoholics Anonymous site offers daily meditations or reflections if you don’t like using the same meditations each day, and there are plenty of other meditation resources, including books, audio files, and videos (e.g., via Spotify and YouTube).

4. Be Upfront About Your Sobriety

If you’ve only recently become sober, or you just haven’t communicated it to those who you’ll see these holidays, be ready to talk about it or answer questions about it in the coming months. If you’re reuniting with friends or family whom you haven’t seen in awhile, thanks to coronavirus, then you may have some questions coming at you as to why you’re not drinking. If you haven’t had to talk about your recovery with your loved ones yet, this can be a difficult conversation to navigate at first.

The first thing you need to do is be prepared and know what you’ll tell them before you even see them. Whether you decide to talk to people individually, tell them beforehand, or write them a letter—choose whatever will be the easiest for you. If you’re not ready to tell your friends and family, then you may want to come up with a different reason why you’re not drinking, such as you’re driving or you’re trying to improve your health.

While it’s important to not be ashamed of your recovery and to not bury your feelings about it, it’s equally important to talk about it only when you’re ready to. You shouldn’t tell people these holidays just because you feel like you have to. You’re still healing and it’s important to understand your own feelings about it and to look after yourself first.

5. Take Time for Yourself

You may be thinking that 2020 has been almost an entire year of taking time for yourself with so many restrictions in place and the lack of socializing that you’ve been able to do, thanks to coronavirus. However, the holiday season brings with it a whole slew of difficulties when it comes to staying sober that make taking time for yourself even more important. Whether you’re being triggered because you’re attending various events, or you’re lonelier than usual these holidays, it’s important to really think about what makes you happy and to reflect on yourself.

Taking time for yourself isn’t just about being alone with your thoughts, it’s about really looking inward and figuring out what it is that you need in your life right now, and what makes you happy. If you’re supposed to be jumping on a company Zoom holiday happy hour, but think it’s going to be triggering, maybe you skip it. If you’re supposed to be attending your usual family Thanksgiving dinner but don’t feel comfortable gathering with so many people this year, maybe you don’t go. Or perhaps all you want to do is see your friends these holidays, maybe you organize something safe and non-triggering, just for you and the people that you care about.

Help is available to help you through a difficult holiday season. Call 800-839-1686Who Answers? today to discuss treatment options to help you on your recovery.

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