10 Tips If You're Trying To Stay Sober At Christmas

This is a repost of something I shared last year on Christmas Eve, with a few edits. It still rings true. My greatest hope today is that the person who is suffering feels the promise of hope and knows that she is not alone. If you’re not struggling with alcohol today, chances are you know someone who is (we’re everywhere). She may be the one who looks like she has it all together at Christmas dinner, and she may not. This list is for you too, to help you be a friend.

Today I pray the light of this season finds you where you are, and if you need encouragement, know you are loved and not alone. Merry Christmas, ESS


“Reading a lot of messages from people who are struggling with sobriety this Christmas. So I'm writing my list of handy tips to survive the next 24 hours:

1. You will get to a point where you're not just surviving the holidays. I can't say when but it does happen. (2018 edit: this is my fourth sober Christmas and it’s just not starting to feel normal.)

2. Drinking doesn't make anything better. It may numb you, but everything you drank at will be there after the alcohol wears off.

3. Drinking does not have to be part of your celebration. Even when others are partaking, when you are not, for whatever reason, you are choosing a radical act, one of self-love, planting seeds for your future, and challenging accepted cultural norms.

4. Some people will question you. That's not your problem; it is theirs. You do not need to give a reason why you don't want to have ‘just one,’ nor explain your decision. When someone pesters you, it may be because they need to examine their own relationship with alcohol. 

5. Have an escape plan. Oh, you are staying with a relative in a remote Alaskan village? Find a room, close the door, take a deep breath and say a prayer: just for today, keep me sober. 

6. People who choose to not drink are more connected than ever. Grab your phone in your remote Alaskan village and call/text/DM/Tweet/FB someone. Download a podcast (like The Unruffled Podcast or Since Right Now). All of them have tribes and you can find them on the Interwebs. You can also look up and call AA 24/7 and nice people will talk with you, which I'm sure goes for other fellowships. Don't do it alone. 

7. Do whatever it takes to stay sober. If that means leaving the dinner/cherished family tradition/night reuniting with old friends: here is your permission slip. If people love you they will ultimately want what's best for you, even if they don't understand your decision. Long-term people. We want to stay alive and thrive and be around for our loved ones. There will be a Honey Baked Ham another year. Trust me. 

8. Look to your sobriety toolbox. Don't have one? Make this Christmas the start of yours. Everyone's sobriety toolbox is different but may include recovery literature, a list of reasons you choose you, meditation, coffee/tea, physical activity, Netflix watching, music, journaling ... the list goes on. (Mine includes Twelve Step meetings, prayer, meditation, a huge network of sober women, Pilates, and writing)

If your toolbox is new, that’s OK. Ask other people what is in theirs. Start building one now and next year it will be overflowing.

9. Know you matter and the world desperately needs you. That the voice inside of you that has told you not to drink is real, regardless of how you label yourself ("But I'm not an alcoholic!") or how bad your problem has gotten, etc. Get still for a moment and listen to that voice. Call it your intuition, the Holy Spirit, a nagging friend or your new best friend. Listen.

10. Don't drink.

I could write 100 tips, all because of what I've learned from people who have chosen to live this beautiful way of life. I am still learning. But I know this: It's not about what we "miss out on" but what we gain, which is a zillion times more than anything a drink can bring.

If you are struggling this Christmas, please feel free to private message me. Message someone. You can do this. It is a radical act. You have it in you. xo, ESS“