How To Have A Sober Christmas To Remember!

How To Have A Sober Christmas To Remember!

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Firstly I would like to say a huge THANKYOU to all of you who congratulated me on hitting two years sober last week!! You really made an already special day, extra special and I was certainly feeling the sober love!

I have had quite a few messages and requests for hints and tips on how to stay sober over the Christmas period. So with December almost upon us I thought it wa a good 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!

Two years ago when I decided to stop drinking, 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 third 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 especially with having children, 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 the finish of the holidays!

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 !

 

  • 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!

 

  • 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 2019 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 third 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.  My youngest is nine and I know that this will be her last year of believing, I am just so grateful that I get to remember all of it with no alcohol involved – I get to feel the natural, pure excitement that she feels and you seriously can not beat that!

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 if your off on your holidays over Christmas my next blog will cover sober holiday tips too!

Happy Christmas Chaos Guys, LETS DO THIS!

Angie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Triggers Kill Your Progress!

Don’t Let Triggers Kill Your Progress!

Ok so firstly I’ve just got to say I hate the term ‘Triggers’!!! It sounds so extreme, like the millisecond moment of weakness that sends you on a three-day bender and finds you waking up in a different country, with no recollection of how you got there!!! (I know this may have happened to some people but thankfully I was nowhere near that level of drinking!)

Basically a ‘trigger’ is something that takes you off your track of sobriety (or diet, giving up smoking/drugs anything you’re trying to give up) It can be a certain time a day, an event, a person, a feeling, the weather, anything that gives you that urge and desire to have a drink.

One of the reasons it took me so long to stop drinking was that I would predict the urge to have a drink, and sort of talk myself out of ‘not’ drinking before I had even started. It’s only now that I realise how crazy that was! So for example even if I had a quiet weekend coming up, but the weekend after we would be having a night out with friends I would think ‘well I may as well drink this weekend because there’s no way I could go out next weekend and not drink’! I would already be feeling anxious about going out and being the only one not drinking, I had already given in to the trigger of a night out that was two weeks away!

Yesterday I hit nineteen months of not drinking, and I can honestly say I’ve possibly had less than ten times when something has triggered me into wanting a drink. Instead of calling them triggers I prefer to think of them as the drinks I missed, but didn’t miss it enough to pick up a glass and give in.

The first was in the December after I had stopped in the November, so it was early days.  I had put the Christmas tree up with the girls and we had decorated it together. Now normally, my tradition would be to have a glass of mulled wine once we had finished, and then I would slowly carry on for the rest of the day. That’s the first time I had the urge to drink, my first trigger, but instead we decorated the tree then walked down to the local café for cake and hot chocolate, walking back when it was getting dark and seeing the house all a glow with lights was lovely.  Something I will never forget and something I would definitely not have done after a bottle of mulled wine!!!!

Obviously Christmas and New Years are a big time for drinking but I was already reaping the benefits by then of not drinking and was feeling good so I didn’t want to spoil that. Plus it was a novelty to feel so fresh and full of energy over Christmas and New Years and make the most of the time together as a family.

Birthdays and celebrations are a big trigger for some people, although I haven’t really found this a struggle.  My birthday is in August so I already had ten months of not drinking under my belt by then, so I wasnt going to ruin that.  Birthdays are also a great time to remind your other half how much money you’ve saved by not drinking! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)

Holidays are a biggie, because it’s a time when you probably drink more than normal, this can be when people given into temptation. We had a beach holiday booked In my first year, luckily it wasn’t all-inclusive so that sort of helped!  The hardest time was the night before we went on holiday because normally that’s when the wine would be flowing, in full on ‘Holiday mode’  I struggled because I was so excited and just wanted the night to pass quickly so we could set off (bit like being a child really!) but I just kept myself busy and the feeling went away. I’ve done a past blog on sober holidays which you can read here, Happy, Healthy Holidays! so I won’t go into too much detail but I got through the holiday with no problems.  This year we did go all-inclusive and I didn’t have one thought to have an alcoholic drink.  Something, that nineteen months ago I would have thought impossible!

Surprisingly camping holidays hit me harder than a beach holiday!! Once the tent is up and we are unpacked I would religiously sit down with a beer.  The first time I  went camping that really made me want to crack, but a Becks Blue sort of quenched my thirst and then I got more involved playing with the kids and it passed, any campers will know there’s always something that needs doing!

I have found that two of my main triggers are boredom and people! I have to be with people who I can laugh with, have good chats with, people who I can be myself with. And I do not enjoy being bored or lazy, sat talking rubbish, or watching garbage on the tv whilst I down a bottle of wine! As a result I’ve got true friends who get me and I get them and I love being in their company.  And I’ve now got a really active lifestyle, taking on more challenges and filling my life with more than I’ve ever done.

I have realised that a lot of the times I wanted to drink were linked to traditions and habit, what I would ‘usually’ do. But think of the saying ‘if you keep on doing what you’ve always done you will keep on getting what you’ve always got!’ This is so true. Yes it was hard to deal with those triggers, it was difficult to do something differently. But it’s only the first time or the first few times that its hard, it then becomes the norm. The new, sober you becomes the normal you, and you will do all of those things sober and believe me you will enjoy them so much more. It feels like a whole new world, you’re experiencing things in a different light and the best part is…….. you get to remember it all!

So if you’ve struggled with a certain trigger whatever that may be, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just put it down to experience and move on, knowing that next time you won’t let it defeat you. I think feeling anxious is normal, but just literally talk yourself through it a minute at a time. Just breathe and tell yourself you can do it, and you know what, YOU CAN!

What have been your triggers? How do you deal with them? Any tips or advice for others?

Hope it’s a happy, healthy weekend for you!!

Angie xx