Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends get together, enjoy food and drink, and think about their blessings. This holiday feast seems like a time that everyone can look forward to, but for people in recovery from an addiction, Thanksgiving can be very stressful.
The best way to stay sober at Thanksgiving is to have a plan in place ahead of time. The tips below will help you to enjoy the holiday while styaing sober.
Traditions Change Over Time
Most Thanksgiving family traditions are fun and comforting. These traditions are ones worth keeping. There are some traditions that aren’t so great, though.
If you get an invitation to a holiday gathering that you suspect will be stressful and will drive you to drink or use, then turn it down. You don’t “have” to go and it’s in everyone’s best interest that you take a pass.
Let Go of Negativity About the Thanksgiving Holiday
Don’t forget, families aren’t perfect, and holiday gatherings tend to provoke lots of drama. It’s human natural to remember past family events and use them gauge the upcoming events. If you believe there will be difficult relatives attending who have a history of being toxic, you may be reflecting on previous holidays when things were done that made the occasion difficult. You may envision future Thanksgiving events and already know how the day will go and that you need to “be prepared” for what your relatives will say and/or do to set you off.
We all do this type of ‘predicting’ from time to time. It’s a way of getting mentally prepared for a stressful holiday situation. We think if we anticipate the outcome, we will be ready to deal with it and can stand our ground. This kind of usumptive thinking implies that the only two options are to show strength or weakness.
It’s important to try and let go of negative feelings about the holiday. Join your family Thanksgiving feast without anticipating how anyone else is going to behave. The day will be less stressful and more enjoyable for you.
Attend a Recovery Meeting
Stay on your path, even though it’s a holiday. Attend a 12-step meeting before you head out to visit family and friends. Your recovery is a priority every day of the year, including holidays.
Bring a Friend
When you go to your family Thanksgiving dinner, bring a supportinve, sober friend with you. If you think you may feel pressured being the only one not drinking at the event, your sober friend will also be there for you.
Eat Before You Go
Thanksgiving Day is a dieter’s worst nightmare, and it may be tempting to forgo breakfast and lunch to reserve calories for the big feast. A healthy alternative is to eat small meals/snacks to keep you even throughout the day.
Not eating breakfaast and lunch can cause low blood sugar. Low blood sugar causes feelings of anxiety that you may not know comes from not having eaten. Low blood sugar can also lead to irritability and fatigue. These are not the feelings you want to have on Thanksgiving Day.
Avoid sweets that will give you an immediate rush and then make you crash. It’s better to eat some protein that will keep you fed longer in case your family dinner is delayed. You can also add some slow burning, complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables to give you sustained energy.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Beverages that are Non-Alcoholic
Although there are usually some non-alcoholic options, it’s best to bring your own. To avoid the akwardness of the classic, ”just have one drink”, have your own non-alcoholic drinks on hand for Thanksgiving dinner.
Look for some recipes for non-alcoholic Thanksgiving drinks that you can make. Bring the ingredients with you and ask your family and friends to have a drink you have made from scratch. They may find that they like your non-alcoholic beverages, as well.
Have Your Own Ride
When going to Thanksgiving dinner, make sure that you can leave when you’re ready. Have funds set aside for a Lyft or make arrangements with a someone sober to come pick you up if you decide you need to go.
Plan Something Fun for the Day After
Thanksgiving weekend is not just about the food. If you have a fun activity to look forward to the next day, then you’re more likely to have a positive attitude towards the holiday weekend.
- Go to see a movie Friday with family and freinds.
- Play games that you enjoyed growing up.
- Build a snowman and have some coffee afterwards.
Sober living is a daily thing for those in recovery and Thanksgiving can be challenging if you fail to plan. If you or a loved one has had a slip or a relapse, Bridgeway Sober Living has programs to get you back on track.