4 Tips for a Sober Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Blog Featured Photo
The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.
— William Blake

The holidays are rough!

You're not alone in feeling fearful of a sober Thanksgiving. 

The thought of being around family during the holidays without a mind-altering substance may cause your palms to sweat and your heart to beat irregularly. 

Fortunately, there are tools you can keep in your pocket (sometimes literally) that will help you have a beautiful, sober Thanksgiving.

Keep your phone on-hand

I’m usually the last person to condone the use of technology while socializing; I hold the idea that digital connection undermines real connection.

But, your phone can be your greatest ally during the holidays.

I suggest pulling out your phone at this moment and putting your sponsor and three close friends in your ‘favorites.’

Feeling an urge to steal the glass of wine straight from your mother’s nicely polished hands? Text your sponsor instead.

Finding your resentment list is growing with every mundane conversation regarding ‘how you’re doing’ or ‘what you’re doing with your life’? Text your sponsor.

Tryptophan finally kicking in from all of the turkey you consumed and you’re feeling oddly reminiscent of your days nodding out into your pumpkin pie? Text your sponsor.

What if your sponsor doesn’t respond?

Text your three friend ‘favorites’ and use them for support. The more comrades you include on your Thanksgiving adventure, the better.

We are not opposed to a ‘bathroom break’ FaceTime session.

Spending time with family newly sober (and sometimes with a long time sober) is quite difficult as is putting on your brave face as you field off questions about your life.

But, you’re not alone. Your friends and sobriety trudgers are just a text away.

If your hands are lonely, grab apple cider and stop whining.

Depending on how long you drank, it may take some time to feel comfortable with empty hands at functions.

This Thanksgiving, if you’re feeling awkward, fill a glass with apple cider and carry that around with you during your Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re still feeling awkward, refer to tip #1 and talk it out.

Remaining in self-pity, saying things like: “All I want is just to have a beer in my hand so I feel more a part of,” or “I feel more uncomfortable by the second,” will only make you feel worse.

Focus on the positive: you’re sober, there’s good food for you to eat, and you get to be present for a family function.

Don’t eat too much.

This may seem an impertinent tip for getting through the holidays, but there is a distinct correlation between what we eat and how we feel emotionally and physically.

I’ve done a bit of a nutrition experiment with myself over the past month. Due to my natural levels of anxiety, I decided to address the one aspect of my life that I have not used as a tool: food.

I eliminated highly acidic foods such as spicy condiments (Sriracha, Tabasco, Sombal, etc.) and greasy foods (pizza, French fries, etc.) first, monitoring both my physical self and my mental self. My anxiety levels had subsided. Then, I eliminated caffeine from my diet, and I found that overall in the past month, I have had significantly less anxiety.

What you eat affects mental health.

Overeating often causes fatigue and discomfort, which can be a trigger if you’re newly sober. By all means, enjoy your Thanksgiving feast. But maybe, instead of a feast, go for just a meal… A Thanksgiving meal.

Use the SoberGrid app for sober to give back to the sober community.

The best way to get out of your own head is to help someone else.

Try thinking about yourself when you’re helping someone through their problems. I dare you.

Utilize the ‘Feed’ section of the SoberGrid app to help other alcoholics and addicts who are also struggling with the holidays. Scroll through the feed and comment or message SoberGrid users who are sharing troublesome statuses or message those who have identified a ‘burning desire’ to drink or use.

Our last tip... 

When it comes to the holidays, I understand how stressful they can be.

I hope you find good news in this bit of advice I received in early recovery: “You may not be able to control your first thought, but you can control the second thought.”

Control Thoughts

How you choose to combat your first thought is truly important. Give yourself a break and treat yourself as nicely as you would treat a friend.