Dreading the holidays? Being single during the most festive time of year can make you feel you’re on the outside looking in as the Hallmark channel airs romantic movies non-stop this month, and commercials and ads for diamonds, romantic getaways, and standing under a mistletoe for that special kiss are constantly running online, on the TV, radio, and in magazines.  If you’re single and sober, the holidays can be a very stressful time and cause anxiety levels to rise.

Harvard’s Health website explains, “Part of this stress is related to the freely flowing alcohol that can be found at many holiday events, and another aspect is often related to complex interactions with family members who can be ‘triggers’ for dark and uncomfortable feelings that can even threaten one’s hard-won sobriety.”

So what do you do if you’re alone and feeling fragile during this time of the year? The best way to tackle the upsetting thoughts and feelings that may ruminate in your head is to have a plan, a strategy, for dealing with the reality of this season.

To start with, write or type down what your triggers are. Write what scenarios have triggered you in the past. When interacting with others, including family, what comes up? If you start feeling off-centered and you’re worried you might jeopardize your sobriety, who is available that you can call? Let the people you feel close to and/or your sponsor know you may need to reach out during the holiday so they know to be available and leave their phones on in case you call.  

Send E-cards that celebrate the single life. Websites like Match.com and Etsy have partnered and up created holiday e-cards that are geared for singles that you can download and share. This will get you in the fun, holiday, “it’s-good-to-be-single” mood!

Take yourself on a road-trip—even if it’s for one or two nights—and go explore a new city! If it’s in your budget, check out a new city you haven’t been to but have wanted to in the past. Google the cuisine there for new and interesting restaurants that are trending; check out what museums are open; where some good trails are or some well-reviewed spas of interest, and don’t forget to find out what the city is renowned for and go witness it. Don’t forget to look up meetings of interest in case you need to go to one or two.

Remind yourself daily when you wake up how good your life is being sober and that January is only a few weeks away. Write a stickie note in the bathroom or next to your coffee machine on your kitchen counter to remind yourself to think about this every day. Also, keep writing a daily Gratitude list each night so you can feel more rested and ready to nod off and get a good night’s sleep.

Meditate – If you know you have an outing  that has you around alcohol, colleagues or people that may trigger you, visualize yourself having a fun time and able to be relaxed from within while interacting with people that you know or imagine might be there.

Once you’re at the party and have made your entrance and chatted with some people, make your exit if you feel you’ve had your fill and you’re ready to leave. Don’t force yourself to stay longer just to people-please or out of concern that others may notice. Do what is healthy and right for you. Just going to the party is already a win-win.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Don’t forget to bring your own beverages if alcohol will be there and it may tempt you to drink. Come prepared with your own mocktails (non-alcoholic beverages) and a mental outlook of reinforcing that you will not rock your sobriety and have an alcoholic drink. For some great mocktail recipes, check out our blog on how to make 5 delicious sober mocktails (and bring one of your fancy, nice glasses with you to sip your drink!). Another helpful source is Meditation to get you in the right mind before going out so that you can ground yourself.

If you’re invited to numerous outings and you’re not sure you are up for it this holiday season, say NO and politely opt out. Remember that you, your happiness and your safety is priority. Same goes with family members that may disrupt your centeredness during the holidays. Best thing to do is avoid family members who have hurt you since the holidays are a highly-sensitized time of year and more often than not, bring up childhood memories, the good and the bad.

Celebrate your sobriety and the holiday with getting a present for yourself. Here, get yourself what you’ve always wanted to get (as long as it’s in the budget) and gift yourself something special.

Make a potluck dinner and movie night with your single, sober friends and let each one list their top three movies they’d like to see and then vote and decide which two or three you think you’d like to binge-watch for a girls-night-in cheery time.

Host a Holiday party or see if a couple of your friends want to co-host it with you, and buy yourself a hot outfit to make your grand entrance!

Volunteer or help someone who is alone. This is cathartic in recovery and ‘connects’ us on many different levels and can be just what the heart and soul needs this season.

Other helpful tips:

  • Buy or borrow a new recovery book to start 2020 off right.
  • If you’re hopping on a plane to spend the holidays out-of-town, google what meetings are held where you’re going so that you can attend to help keep you centered.
  • Get into arts and crafts and hand-make some presents for your family and friends (and yourself) this year.

When you scratch the surface, there are many websites with tips for navigating the holidays when you’re solo. It’s important to be realistic with what you’d like for your holiday season and to choreograph the custom action plan for you. Being (and staying) aware, disciplined, and prepared goes a long way and will help you sail through the few what-can-be tricky weeks.

 If you are struggling this holiday season, or know someone who might need our assistance, please contact us to see how we can help.