Happy Christmas Eve Eve!
Its that crazy time of year again – when all normality, routine and good intentions start to slowly go out of the window – nooooooooooooo!
I hope you are all hanging in there guys – believe me I’m hanging on in there with you. This is my fourth sober Christmas and I feel pretty confident with handling it sober and but there is still so much pressure and stress with other things – keeping up with exercise and healthy food options and just the constant pressure of making it a “perfect” Christmas (what actually is that anyway?!) So believe me at times I am here gripping on to my festive cheer by the tip of my Christmas nails!!
I know a lot of you are out there feeling the same and having concerns about getting through a sober Christmas – especially if its your first and I’ve had a lot of messages and emails asking “can I do it?” and lots of requests for hints and tips on how to stay sober over the Christmas period. So with Christmas well and truly upon us I thought it was a perfect time to get this post out there and it can hopefully help any of you feeling anxious about dealing with the ‘MERRY’ part of Christmas!
Three years ago when I decided to stop drinking on the 21st November 2016, surviving Christmas was definitely at the forefront of my mind. But as you know I love a challenge and part of me thought – look if I can get through Christmas not drinking then I can get through anything! This will be my fourth sober festive season and I can honestly say they are the best! You feel like you get so much more out of it, so many more things to do and so many more memories to make.
I have always loved Christmas, and yes it’s a magical time once you are a parent but I did used to see Christmas as a drinking free for all. I mean there are so many reasons to be opening the mulled wine or prosecco at any time of day, its Christmas –WHY NOT!
So anxiety and stress when you think about a sober Christmas are totally understandable. I am someone who could polish off three bottles of wine plus more over Christmas day, and still cook Christmas dinner for all my family, so believe me I get it! I wasn’t the ‘ooh I will just have a glass of Bailey’s’ sort of Christmas drinker, no it was a free for all for me from the start to finish of December !
Lets be honest, Christmas is a stressful time and with alcohol being offered to you at every opportunity, it’s a dangerous situation to be in if you’re in the early days of stopping drinking, so its important that you plan ahead. Think how you can make Christmas easier and less stressful on yourself? Cut yourself some slack this year! Most of these points look at how you can do just that.
So here are my hints and tips for a sober Christmas and New Year that you get to truly enjoy AND most importantly get to REMEMBER every single second of!
- PRIORITISE – Realise that you can’t be everything to everyone. Prioritise what really is important to you this Christmas. Just because you have had the neighbours around every year for a booze up doesn’t mean that you have to do it this year? If certain traditions and events are always focused on drinking you can always suggest something different. You’re working on a New You, it’s ok to break some traditions and do things differently this year!
- SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH – Make sure “time for yourself” is on your Christmas to do list! Ok so you’re not drinking, why not use that spare money to book a massage, get your nails done, treat yourself to something new to wear or new trainers or a sober book to keep you focused! One thing that won’t cost you an anything is time, give yourself time to spend on YOU everyday over the holidays – take a walk on your own, have a bath, watch your favourite DVD, go to bed with a book and a hot chocolate, find your sober support group on Instagram or a blog you follow and reach out for help or jut a chat. And something that’s going on my bucket list next year – go to the cinema on your own! These are all things that just let you take a little time out of the chaos. Giving you time to relax, recharge and refocus on staying sober and how amazing it is that you are doing this for yourself. YOU DESERVE IT!
- IF IT REQUIRES FAKE SMILING IM NOT GOING! – This is one of my favourite quotes and since I have stopped drinking it is sooooooo true! Now this is easier said than done at Christmas because there are some events and get togethers that you just have to go to and people who you just have to see! Keep these meetings and events short and sweet, stay for as long as you have to then politely leave. To be honest once people have had a few drinks they won’t really notice people coming and going anyway! Just remember that nobody can make you reach for that drink no matter how stressful it gets! Your sobriety means more to you right now than how they make you feel. Be selective with which events you go to, you don’t have to say yes to all of your invites, people accept it’s a busy time. Even if that means your busy staying in for a DVD night with the kids, that is important to YOU and that is where you want to be. REMEMBER YOU CANT BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY!
- PLAN AHEAD FOR PARTIES – Always make sure you’ve got your own alcohol free drinks just incase there aren’t any available, and always make sure you keep a glass in your hand! This is the number one trick as it stops people asking if you want a drink and you can avoid the (sometimes awkward) ‘not drinking’ conversation. There are always people who fancy a brew at a party no matter where you go – and I’ve found this through my own experience!! After a couple of hours drinking, there is always someone (normally a few people) who will say “oooh yes please” when you ask if anyone wants a tea or coffee! Who knew that these people existed ha ha!! Try it next time and you will be surprised. And if all else fails and you need to get out of there ASAP, then YOU CAN – you drove, it’s a win win situation ! Always have alcohol free drinks in stock and always use a fancy glass – even if you a drinking water it makes a difference – trust me!
- PLAY FAST FORWARD – Accept that alcohol is going to be everywhere and don’t get caught up in all of the advertisements that glamorise alcohol. Yes you may fancy a Baileys on ice, sat by a roaring fire – but just stop there and press fast forward. The reality is your working your way through the bottle, torturing yourself with ideas of moderation and ‘just one more’, next thing your moving onto the wine and its a full on session, leading to a hangover from hell tomorrow with most of the day wasted, feeling crap!! One of my first and strongest cravings was after I put the Christmas tree up that first year in 2016, normally I would be opening the mulled wine the second we switched the fairy lights on! But nope that wasn’t happening that year and boom the craving hit me so hard, I was angry, annoyed, why couldn’t I just have a drink?? So instead I walked down to our local cafe in the village and had a coffee and a big fat piece of cake with my girls and my Mum. We walked home, in the dark all snuggled up looking at all the Christmas lights in people’s houses. By the time we got home the craving had well and truly gone, I had forgotten about that mulled wine and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself! I had done it! I hadn’t given in! So be prepared and ready to do something to take your mind away from the craving – IT WILL PASS ands next time it happens you will be stronger for any others that rear their ugly heads in the future! – read more at Don’t Let Triggers Kill Your Progress!
- BE REALISTIC! – Don’t expect too much and set yourself up for an emotional melt down! Just because you are in the process of changing doesn’t mean that everyone else is. People will still get drunk, kids will argue and get over tired, the dog will try to eat the tree , or turkey or both!! (It’s our first year with the pup and this could happen- hes a labrador afterall!) Accept that things aren’t perfect, perfect is boring, tell yourself you are perfectly imperfect and you can deal with anything this Christmas throws at you because you are CHOOSING to spend it STRONG AND SOBER!
- KEEP ACTIVE & GET OUTSIDE – no one expects you to start training for a marathon over the holidays but try to plan to do SOMETHING outside every day!! This can be anything from a 30 minute walk or run or if your lucky enough to have snow, an energetic snowball fight with the kids! If you have got children make the most of getting outside with them, especially if they’ve got new bikes or outdoor toys to play with! Be the fun relative that actually gets OFF the settee instead of sitting in a carb coma with a bottle of wine by your side! My first sober Christmas was spent at my sister’s house because we take turns each year. Normally I would do exactly that and veg on the settee, carrying on drinking (Christmas day drinking started 11 ish until bedtime, no question, EVERY year!) So instead I got us all wrapped up and took myself, my hubbie and all the kids on a walk to the park, including the dogs. You can imagine we had the whole park to ourselves and the kids loved it! It was different, it was FUN!
- BEING PRESENT IS THE BEST GIFT THAT YOU CAN GIVE YOUR LOVED ONES – ESPECIALLY THE CHILDREN! – Nothing takes you off in your own world more than drinking. The times I have sat on the settee snuggled up with the girls with a bottle of wine on the side – constantly topping up my glass. Sat there physically but in my own little world mentally, probably hating myself that I was drinking and then getting to the point that all I can think about is the next glass and then the next bottle. Its know one of the happiest places for me to be and I can not understand at all why I would want to escape that feeling of being chilled out and snuggled up with my two favourite people, chatting, laughing or watching a movie – total heaven! Take away the booze and you become totally present, you are in the moment, you are actively taking part in whats going on and making memories for those around you. Christmas is meant to be fun, join in, laugh, cry but just make sure you SHOW UP this year mentally and physically without the wine taking you into your own little world.
- REMEBER ITS JUST ONE DAY AND WHO ACTUALLY CARES IF ITS NOT ‘PERFECT’! (WHAT IS A PERFECT CHRISTAMS ANYWAY!) – Christmas Day lasts 24hrs just like any other day, its just one day in the whole year. Thats all you have to get through, one hour at a time, one minute at a time – just get through it. Drinking isn’t an option, you can do it, and just imagine waking up Boxing Day feeling fresh and hangover free, that will be the best present that you can give to yourself this Christmas!
- MAKE THE MOST OF IT – If you have got a few days off work around Christmas – just make the most of it! This is a time when drinking used to be the main activity, once you take that away the options are endless. Focus on the New Year and starting 2020 feeling fresh and recharged, with new goals and plans to continue on your journey of being the best you can be, alcohol free!
There are a lot of ideas and suggestions here and I know they won’t all work for everyone, but these are what worked for me!. I’m coming up to my fourth sober Christmas and honestly, alcohol or the absence of it doesn’t really cross my mind now. I know I can have a fantastic Christmas if not the best Christmas without drinking. If like me you have young children who are growing up soooo fast, just treasure the sober memories that you make with them this year.
Give yourself the gift of a sober Christmas this year, you will not regret it!
I hope these tips help someone in some way, if anyone has any other ideas or advice for a successful sober Christmas, please comment and share your ideas. And don’t forget to find me on Instagram too.
And remember if all else fails and you really feel like you can’t take anymore – offer to do the washing up!! You are out of the way, you get time to breathe and you are doing a job that will definitely get you brownie points!!
I wish you all a perfectly imperfect Christmas and a happy and healthy holidays!
love from me and my family (including Bruno!) xxxxxxxxx