How To Manage Christmas Sober – And Why You Might Want To
Christmas can be a joyous time of year, but for so many, the stresses, financial implications, telling your boss he’s a knob at the Christmas party, and emotional impact of the holidays can be extremely triggering, especially when navigating it sober. Here are some of our tips and ideas to help navigate the upcoming holiday season sober.
- Identify Your Triggers
One of the key ways to manage the season is to identify potential moments or events that could be triggering for you so that you can plan accordingly. Take that quiet moment to reflect on the upcoming months and journal down what comes up for you before exploring how you might be able to manage or what might provide you comfort during this time.
Identifying these in advance will help increase your self-awareness and help create action plans that can support you during this time.
A key step to this is to approach it with self-compassion and kindness, exploring what comes up for you before putting an action plan together. Try the following prompts that could help you:
- What is my trigger?
- How do I feel at this moment, and what is causing me to do so?
- What can I do to help this feeling?
- What do I need for myself right now?
Identify these triggers and needs before committing to an action plan. This is involves listing out the activity that can help you in those moments, such as going for a walk, reading, or calling a friend – whichever activity helps you. For example:
Trigger – going to work Christmas party
Feeling – anxious, stressed and not wanting to be around drunk people
What do I need – space, to have time at home, sleep.
Action plan – to set a time boundary and leave the party before people get too drunk (usually three drinks!). Book cab so I leave on time. Text friend to share my feelings.
And remember – don’t get sacked because you got too drunk and did something horrific at your work Christmas do (trust me – that stuff stays with you forever!).
Self-care is healthcare. If you find the holiday season difficult, then it could be worth increasing your self-care or beginning a self-care routine. Self-care has many levels to it, both internal and external. The latter is treating your body well, whether this is through exercise or seeing a therapist for a weekly catch up, through to the internal work, which is how we talk to ourselves and work on our mental health.
For some, external self-care can be a relaxing bubble bath and face mask – pampering is also self-care! Other forms of external self-care can be exercising, working out, going for a walk in nature (golf!), stretching or even maintaining a good sleep routine and good sleep hygiene. Ensuring we rest our bodies can directly impact how we feel. Looking at the inner self could mean journaling through your emotions, practising positive affirmations, practising mindfulness or seeking help from a therapist to speak through your emotions.
Sit and think through the self-care you do, and make a list on your phone so have a constant supply of activities to do. If self-care is new to you, start small with a walk outside for 10 minutes or playing your favourite piece of music. Self-care can come in many different shapes and sizes, but simply giving yourself some time can be greatly beneficial.
We’ve all heard about boundaries, and whilst they can be difficult to set, they are vital. No is a full sentence. If something doesn’t feel right to you or doesn’t align with your values, then a polite boundary can be set. This could be leaving early at the work party, saying no to an event or standing firm in your alcohol-free journey, but whatever your boundary is, stick to it. View boundaries like compound interest; the more you set over time, the more people will respect them.
When you make the decision to set a boundary, it is fundamental to hold the boundary in order for others to understand and uphold this. If you have said no to helping, then don’t backtrack; stay firm. If you have said you will leave by a certain time, then make sure you do. Boundaries are tough, but for them to work, you have to work them for yourself.
- Alcohol-Free Options
There are many great alcohol-free options out there now that go beyond a lime and soda or Diet Coke. If you feel that an alcohol-free option is something that could work for you and not trigger you, then have fun exploring this during the festive period. Many supermarkets, bars and restaurants provide more and more AF options that aren’t just a Becks Blue.
If you are planning on heading out during this time, look online and what alcohol-free options they have, so you can prepare your choices once you are there. Many places provide AF options but head’s up a lot of AF options have a high sugar content which can lead to that sugar crash during the evening and sadly times haven’t caught up with us yet, as AF drinks can also be just as expensive! Forward planning is always key during the festive season.
- Support Network
This is a key part of the process of managing the holidays – take a moment to think of a few people whom you can have in your back pocket to speak with or reach out to when times get difficult. Write down their names and numbers, so you have them readily available when you need them, reach out to these people and share how you’re feeling – often, simply vocalising our problem can provide a great deal of support. It can be a difficult time of year, but you don’t need to be alone.
If you feel that this is difficult for you and that you need some further support, then explore working with a trained counsellor or looking for a mental health service that could be suitable for you. Private therapy can be expensive but there are plenty of places across the UK that provide low-cost therapy, however, these are limited to a select number of sessions.
Internet forums and support groups on social media can also provide a lot of support through connecting with like-minded people who can empathise with your feelings. You can even join our very own Sober On A Drunk Planet Community that would be glad to support you during this Christmas period and beyond – click here to join.
It’s also worth remembering what benefits you get from NOT drinking alcohol over the Christmas period:
- Not getting sacked for making a tit out of yourself at the work Christmas do (again!)
- Saving money to spend on something you will actually enjoy (and not piss down the drain – literally)
- Not order more drugs (if thats your thing after a few pints!)
- Being full present for family and friends – its a time to be happy, not hungover and depressed!
- Be able to actually eat your Christmas dinner rather than feel hungover and sick all day (again!)
- Not have to deal with over excited children on a hangover (which feels like a form of torture!)
- You actually start the new year ready and raring to go rather than making false promises of making this ‘your year’ – Why wait until January?
These are just some helpful tips to stop you making a tit out of yourself over the festive period and feel hungover and depressed because of drinking too much.
Lastly, enjoy and embrace being Sober In A Drunk Christmas 🙂 The benefits of staying sober are endless – you can see more of them in the International Bestseller – Giving Up Alcohol here.