‘Tis the Season to Stay Sober and Sane: How to Beat Winter Blues (sans Booze)

‘Tis the Season to Stay Sober and Sane!

You’ve plowed through the Halloween candy. Stores are now urging you to get out there and buy holiday gifts, but you haven’t even thought about how you'll get through Thanksgiving.

Ah, November. If this is the part of year where a drink (or drug, or other vice of your choosing) sounds most welcome, you aren’t alone. Holiday cheer is often easier said than done. The days grow shorter and chillier, the jingles are a little too loud, and then your mother suggests that you host Thanksgiving for the extended family in your studio apartment.

So how can you forgo a hot toddy for hot tea this holiday season? Face bleak wintry days without a shot of whiskey in your coffee? Really, how can anyone get through the winter months sober and sane?

5 Tips to Surviving Winter Sober

1. Know your triggers:

And holidays could be a big one! If the holiday party is at your favorite bar, it may be a good time to find a sober activity instead. If your family drives you to drink (and hey--whose doesn’t?), ensure you have a support system in place before and after any family activities.

2. Celebrate holiday mocktails:

Yup, I’m insisting that you delight in the delicious non-alcoholic beverages the internet has to offer you. Martha Stewart suggests some Apple Pie Cider, and Delish offers up such wonders as Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate and Haymaker’s Ginger Switchel. With recipes like these, there’s no reason to ever be caught without a (non-alcoholic) drink in your hand. Go on, cheers it up.

3. Give to get out of your head:

Worried about all the stuff surrounding your own holiday? Dial back your self-obsession by volunteering. Websites like volunteermatch.org will help you help others this holiday season. There’s nothing better than a reality check to help you return to an attitude of gratitude for all the good you’ve got in your life. And hey, people out there need help. Why not give it to them?

4. Structure your time:

Got some holiday time off work? Snowed in with the kids? Keep yourself busy, and focus on basic self-care first. Things like showering and getting dressed, making healthy meals, and cleaning the house should be priorities. These sound like no-brainers, but without a regular schedule, normal self-care can get lost. Since you’ve got spare time, try to make recovery a priority. If you can’t get out to a meeting, see what’s available online.

5. Delight in the wonder that is winter:

Oh, come on! Try to enjoy the wonder of snowfall just a little bit. Make snow angels alone on a beautiful night, gazing up at the sky and feeling the cold freeze your cheeks. If your holiday traditions involve drinking, begin to build new ones. Start snowball fights with unsuspecting friends. Snuggle with a blanket and a favorite book in front of a fire, thankful for apple cider and sobriety. Invite your infuriating family over for a holiday game night, offer up non-alcoholic drinks, and decorate some cookies to devour.

The holidays are still a stressful, freezing time of year. The bottom of your pants will get wet. Scraping ice off your car will suck. Office holiday parties will be unbearable. Drinking can numb all of this for you, or sobriety can make it all that much more poignant. So grab your glass of sparkling apple cider, wrap yourself in your favorite sweater, and welcome this big, crazy season into your sober arms.


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