Thanksgiving is all about family, food and football for some. It can also mean rude comments, arguments and high stress levels that may make you wish you could have a drink to ease the tension. Dealing with family can be hard, especially during the holidays.
For others, it can be a lonely time because they don’t have anyone to spend the day with, and they wish they could be part of a family gathering. People who don’t have anyone to be with over the holidays can feel lonely and isolated, which is a feeling many have used alcohol or drugs to numb.
Either way, for someone who is newly sober, it can be a challenging day because the chance of relapse seems to be greater. When you don’t drink, what can you do to cope? Here are a few ways to deal with Thanksgiving, regardless of your situation.
1. Start a new tradition.
Who says Grandma has dibs on Thanksgiving? Suggest an alternative to your customary Thanksgiving Day and see if anyone is interested. Go out to eat at a restaurant instead of cooking. Being in public will help everyone be on their best behavior.
If you don’t have family, see if your friends want to have dinner together. You don’t have to cook the typical turkey and pumpkin pie meal, either. Make it exotic.
2. Make the rounds.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to several dinners or parties, try to visit them all. If you’re only obligated to stay at each one for an hour or two you’re less likely to become irritated with that long lost cousin you only see once a year. And, since you’re driving you can’t drink, which is a great reason to give those who don’t “get” why you’re sober now.
3. Have a meeting.
Suggest a support group meeting if you are a part of one. Chances are the people in your group are just as concerned about how to deal with the holidays. See if you can have a short meeting the day before or on Thanksgiving. You can share coping strategies beforehand, or talk about how it went during a meeting afterwards.
4. Spend the day volunteering.
If you can’t find anyone to celebrate the day with, or you don’t want to be with family because it will cause too much stress, volunteer. Shelters and food banks can use people to help cook and serve food and clean up the facilities afterwards. You’ll be doing something good for others as well as yourself.
5. Be a driver.
No, not an Uber driver (although you could earn some extra money that way). Be a designated driver for your family and friends. It’ll give you a solid reason to stay sober and you’ll be helping out those that might not make the best decisions after they’ve been drinking. And who knows? You might get some tips.
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