5 Tips for a Sober Thanksgiving

The holidays can be super stressful, which can be a trigger for relapse and a hindrance in recovery. Whether it’s your first sober thanksgiving or your fifth, these 5 tips for a sober thanksgiving will give you the motivation to celebrate the holidays with your sobriety intact!

1. Keep Stress Levels In Check

The first of 5 tips for a sober thanksgiving is to keep your stress levels in check. Stress is a key risk factor in addiction initiation, maintenance, relapse, and treatment failure, so it’s important to moderate your stressors throughout the day. Part of keeping your stress levels down is practicing or exercising self-care. Create a list of things that keep you sane and keep them on deck. Drink a soothing tea. Take some deep breaths. Consider picking up a lavender or peppermint essential oil. These self-care items can easily serve as a way to settle your nerves and cope.
Similarly, part of keeping your stress levels in check is to reflect. Before you even begin the day, it’s important to check in with yourself and be honest. Will you be comfortable at a party where there is alcohol involved? Will you be able to maintain your sobriety in a stressful environment? Be honest with yourself about your potential limitations. This way, you’ll find it easier to make a game plan to tackle and avoid triggers.

2. Have Support Ready

Having a support system will help you keep your stress levels low. In turn, this will help you maintain your sobriety. Let your friends know about your plans and any difficulties that may arise. Talk about these potential stressors and come up with a plan to tackle them. Ask a friend or family member to be available on speed dial should you need someone to talk to if things get particularly stressful or better yet, ask if a buddy can tag along wherever you’re going. This will allow you to hold one another accountable! Working through the stress of the holidays with a friend will motivate you accordingly.

3. Create an Exit Plan

Plan how long you’ll be able to comfortably stay and keep to that time frame. If you know that a full weekend or even a full day will bring you undue stress, take a step back to protect yourself. And let your family know of your plans ahead of time. It’s important to set realistic expectations so that you can take precautionary action in avoiding your triggers and as such maintain your sobriety. Be prepared to leave earlier if necessary. If the stress is unmanageable, there’s no need to stay put and absorb that anger, anxiety, or negative energy. Explain how you feel if you are comfortable or have an excuse ready in case the moment arrises.

4. Plan Your Day Around a Meeting

Meetings generally occur throughout the holidays! Make an effort to connect with others in recovery by planning your day around a group therapy session or meeting. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable and to take ownership of your sobriety. Your health takes priority over everything else, and surrounding yourself with love and support will give you the perfect foundation for your day. Even if it means arriving late or showing up early to a Thanksgiving dinner if you feel that a meeting would make you feel more grounded, make all efforts to attend.

5. Throw Your Own Party

If you’ve decided that attending a friend or family member’s Thanksgiving dinner will be too triggering, consider throwing your own party! Invite people who support your journey to recovery and those who will be willing to contribute positively to your holiday. Eliminate potential triggers from the party environment and ask that your guests leave the drama and stress at home! Hosting your own party means that you get to control the situation.