Advice for staying sober over the holidays

The end of the year can be taxing, with high levels of stress and increased use of alcohol. As someone who doesn’t drink, is trying to quit drinking or is recovering from alcoholism, it can feel like this time of year is a serious struggle. Whether it’s from the marketing, office parties, or family get-togethers – there’s always some “danger” lurking in the shadows waiting for you. It almost makes winter seem like a better season!

For now, concentrate on yourself.

The holidays can be difficult if you’re trying to stay sober and trying to have a good time. You will feel the pressure from friends and family, and the overwhelming ads portraying alcohol as something with which you need to be present. But, if you follow these few easy tips, you will make it through the holidays without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.

You’re the most important part of your mental well-being.

There is one way to get sober. It’s easy: stop drinking. If you start trying to say yes or no or drink with abandon, nothing will work out. You have to make a firm commitment not to drink, and not give in to small-time excuses. If you say maybe, then you will drink, there’s no doubt about that. It’s important that you make a strong-minded decision not to drink again, and that means NO drinks period.

Rehab over the holidays  to survive!

It is important to create achievable expectations for yourself.

When you do not drink alcohol, it can take some time for your body to get used to living with no booze. Getting on the wagon can be a hard adjustment and comes with some side effects. This may include feelings of loneliness, bitterness, and wistfulness.

You might feel anxious about not drinking or being judged for it, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. There are many people who have felt the same way as you – so don’t worry. You’re not an oddity, and your thoughts and feelings are completely normal. Those feelings might only be more pronounced around people who don’t get where you’re coming from (with some exceptions). It may seem hard to stick with your commitment to sobriety around these people, but it will be worth it in the long run. It might not make sense now, but at some point down the line this time will be a memory you’ll cherish. This is your challenge now – one that’s certainly difficult and challenging, but still possible if you stay committed. Remember this quote: “It’s impossible! Nothing is impossible!”

You deserve to be kind and curious to yourself

The holidays are tough, with events coming up that you may not be able to attend. But don’t worry! Johannesburg’s leading alcohol and drug rehab centre have a foolproof plan you can do at home to make the holidays less stressful. Talk to yourself with curiosity and kindness instead of judgement. Use compassion and love to drown out feelings like sadness or anger. Tell yourself how great you’re doing, and give yourself pep talks every day. Be your own cheerleader!

Alcohol isn’t as fun as you think

There is this barrier that often prevents people from stopping their addiction in the early stages. It’s the belief that something can’t be fun until you have something to drink. But if an event is only fun because it involves drinking, then it must not be a very good event. You should consider this statement with full intent. If there are people at an event who are having fun, surely it’s the event that is fun and not the alcohol? Once you make this change in your mindset, you realize that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.

Say ‘yes’ to a customized solution that works for you!

You need to think about what type of events you actually want to attend. There are actually only a few that you need to go to. Just because you get an invite, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes!

The decisions you make are an important part of your life. You need to choose what will make YOU happy, and push yourself to prioritize YOU every time! You might think this is selfish, but it’s not. Whatever happens, you have made a choice that is all about YOUR future. As long as you know what you are doing and why, go ahead and do it!

Preparation is critical in life, and business especially.

When you’re still undecided on whether or not to attend an event we encourage you to imagine yourself having a good time. If alcohol and substance abuse are part of your social world, then you have to beat your chest at the pride of being able to have a good time without it.

Make sure you bring your own! (Transportation is key) Even if the venue has a special assortment of alcohol-free drinks, make sure you still bring your own.

Drinking will still be responsible for a part of your social life, so prepare yourself by having pre-arranged answers ready for when people ask why you aren’t drinking. For instance, have snacks that can remove urges to drink and make sure you have dessert waiting at home waiting as a reward. The best part? You’ll wake up feeling completely fine the next day without a hangover!

Event attire

Here are some tips to help you stay energized at the party:

• Hear the affirmations in advance. Get into your zone before you even arrive.

As a bartender, you always have to be on the lookout for drinks that are running low. Buying glasses that look like everyone else’s will help you avoid this problem and make sure everyone has plenty of drinks to choose from.

Try to have a wingman with you at all times. They should be there to help you stay strong and keep on going. Someone who knows your situation and is willing to help.

• Take as many breaks and breathers as you can unless you’re at a phone call or in the middle of something important. If this is the case, find a place to escape from your work until your break is over.

• Focus on other people – it prevents you from getting stuck in your own head. You’ll get to know people a lot better.

Offer to pour drinks for guests. Don’t fetch for them.

Now, you can work when you want, where you want. You’ll never have to worry about normal business hours again.

On your way out

You’re at the end of an event and you’re heading home. Here are some things to think about and do:

• Tell yourself that you are doing it! You are driving away from a party, sober. That’s amazing!

• If you have family when you get home – see them, they’re the people who mean so much to you. If they’re awake, tell them; if they’re asleep, the time spent gazing in their faces is an opportunity to take in their beauty and glory. This is for both of you!

• Make your bed routine enjoyable and relaxing. It’s not a chore, it’s also important to note. Take in your PJs, the make-up remover, and the fresh bed. Savour this moment in your own time of sobriety. It doesn’t need to be rushed.

Hunger can strike anytime, so be prepared and brush up on portion control with these 5 hacks.

Alcohol, like any other drug, tends to have negative side-effects. The day after your event, you may start to feel those side-effects as the craving for alcohol is stronger than before. Get ready for it, and when it comes, know what it is and stop it. Avoid places and people that could trigger a drink; for example – the boys are meeting for breakfast at the pub after the end of year party. Make sure this isn’t a good idea! If you know beforehand that you might be weak in this moment, then there won’t be a chance to get caught off guard!

It is important to make use of sobriety.

Sometimes, being sober is a special thing to experience. You get to avoid the days that are usually spent in pain and regret, instead living life to its fullest. No exhaustion, no anxiety and no regrets. With this new energy you have, it’s your time to take advantage of it. Make sure you’re eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise! You have more than enough energy–make the most out of it by exploring nature or visiting a favorite beach spot.

Rewarding yourself is healthy.

You got through the holidays without drinking. That deserves a round of applause! Old habits are being replaced by better ones. Your body, your mind, and your spirit are getting a well-deserved break from alcohol. What a time to be alive! What you need to think about is that you’re saving money and giving yourself an amazing gift. So why not reward yourself? You’ve earned it! Book a long massage, eat at a favourite restaurant or buy that new pair of running shoes. Give yourself a present – one that means you’re saving money for your future self! Reward your sobriety.

If you’re struggling with addiction and desire help, First Step can provide resources and treatment for your needs. If you feel like you have nowhere left to turn, know that hope is always there for you.

Don’t wait—seek professional support from First Step, and get started on your journey toward a happy and healthy life.

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