Happy Holidays! (Plus 6 Strategies I Use To Stay Sober)

Today’s post is simply my way of saying thank you and a chance to wish you a peaceful holiday season.

I want you to know how much you mean to me.

Without you, there would be no reason for me to share these posts, and so I want to personally thank you for being here and sharing in this journey with me.

I am feeling the spirit of the season everywhere. People are smiling; I’m seeing so many people donating their time to charities and giving back; and it just feels a little warmer everywhere I go. It really is a wonderful time of year!

But for many people, the holidays are challenging. I still struggle with the parties and social gatherings that have a central theme of indulgence to them.

As a woman in long term recovery from alcohol addiction, it can be hard to be around all of the alcohol and people who are enjoying their fair share of “Christmas cheer”.

If you are struggling with staying sober this holiday season, please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who understand your struggle and who want to support you, myself included.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few things that have helped me to get through the holidays happily and with very little anxiety when it comes to staying sober.

I wanted to share these strategies in case there was anyone out there who could use the support.

Please pass this along if you know someone who is struggling. Thank you.

Things That Help Me Feel Less Anxious During the Holidays

1. I Exercise. I don’t skip days because working out makes me feel so good. Working out helps to remind myself that I am healthy, strong, respectful of my body and that I love myself. It really helps me reduce stress and anxiety and it wards off depression, which can be an issue for many of us around the holidays.

If you missed this week’s interview with exercise physiologist Sarah Zahab, check it out here. She will inspire you to get moving, even if just for a few minutes a day, in order to feel better.

2. I Eat Nourishing Food. Doing so helps to keep me feeling healthy. It not only feeds my body, but my mind as well, reminding me that I am putting myself and my health first. I also indulge in a few treats over the holidays, as well. It’s all about balance. ūüôā

If you missed last week’s post, these stuffed mushrooms are fantastic and can be taken to any gathering. They are always a hit¬†and call for ingredients that will have you feeling energized. They are also a great conversation-starter at a party, as the recipe is so simple that you can share it while eating one…or two… ūüôā

3. I Get Zen. I breathe deeply before heading into a situation where there is going to be a lot of alcohol. I remind myself that I am healthier, happier and more balanced as a sober person, and I remind myself of how proud I am for being able to enjoy an event without the need for booze. I visualize myself having fun and enjoying being with people.

Try this meditation to help you relax, reduce anxiety and to feel good.

4. I Bring Non-Alcoholic Beverages To Get-Togethers. Although my go-to drink is just sparkling water with lemon or lime, during the holidays, it is nice to have something a bit more festive.

When I first got sober, I relied on non-alcoholic beer and wine. The physical act of popping off the cap, slicing the lime and placing it in the bottle, turning it upside down and drinking it like a Corona (my drink of choice at the end of my drinking life) helped to wean me off of the habit of drinking.

Some nights, I would drink 6. I needed the habit. If I couldn’t have the buzz, I at least wanted my ritual.¬†After about 3 months, I found I only drank them on weekends. As of today, it has been years since I’ve had one. For beer, I preferred Becks. For wine, the best I’ve found are by a company dedicated to making non-alcoholic wines called¬†Ariel. The red tastes remarkably like “real” wine, and so it may act as a trigger to you if you are already in recovery and haven’t had non-alcoholic wine. See note below.

Please note: For many people, drinking .05% beer or non-alcoholic wines can trigger them, and even the smallest amount of alcohol is too much. I am not recommending anyone start on non-alcoholic beer or wine, but it helped me tremendously when I first got sober.

That said, for the most part, for festive occasions I like to make “mocktails”. Google “mocktail” and you will find a lengthy list of recipes.

Because I like to avoid sugar, the base I like to use is sparkling water (or still water if I don’t want the fizz) and I love adding a splash (just a splash) of¬†real cranberry juice (NOT from concentrate).¬†Find it in the organic section of the grocery store ($9.99) or at a health food store. I also love adding fresh citrus. In winter, my go-to is fresh orange slices.

Or, I like adding a splash of red wine vinegar (this takes a little getting used to but I like the bitter/salty/tart taste). According to many, red wine vinegar has a lot of health benefits. Here is some information on those benefits.

I also like muddling fresh mint with berries in the bottom of a glass and adding sparkling or still water and a wedge of lime. I wonder if simply muddling mint leaves with a few drops of peppermint extract would be nice in a glass of sparkling water and then adding dark chocolate shavings? I may have to experiment!


5. I Connect With Others. Although I don't typically attend AA meetings, I have done so, and I have gone at Christmastime. I just needed some extra support and I wanted to be around people who understood.

Here is the link to AA.org where you can click on your State/Province and then choose your City. Click on "Find Meetings" or call. Don't try to "white knuckle" it if you need help. They exist for the sole purpose of creating community and providing fellowship.

6. I Take Time For Self-Care. On Christmas Eve day, I spent six hours at the spa with my partner, Roger. We knew the next few days would be hectic, and we wanted to make sure we filled our own cups before being able to give of ourselves to others.

It was wonderfully rejuvenating (who knew it would be 18 degrees and sunny!) and we are now feeling much more balanced and centred. Remember: self-care is not selfish.

Thank You For Your Gift

If you, or someone you know is struggling this holiday season. I hope these strategies might help.

Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. When I begin to feel sorry for myself because I can't drink with the rest of the party-goers, I count my blessings and remind myself that life is good.

And speaking of blessings...once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of my extended family. I wish you and yours a healthy, happy holiday season filled with love, laughter and light.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

xo Sarah

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