Enjoy the Turkey Feast Without Waking the Addiction Beast

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There’s tasty turkey. There’s delicious desserts. There’s family, football and fun times. That all sounds great, but Thanksgiving often brings additional things – like family drama, stress, awkward social situations and cravings (for something stronger than pie.)

Count Your Blessings

The good news is, you can survive all this sober. You just need a game plan going into the holiday. Put a strategy together that will help you enjoy Thanksgiving, and do so without alcohol.

Here are ten tips that should help:

  • Decide and Determine: This is key: Don’t go into your Thanksgiving plans riding the fence. Decide ahead of time that you aren’t going to drink. Period. No discussion. Don’t leave your mind open to the possibility. When you determine this ahead of time, it’s likely you won’t break your resolve.
  • Take Alone Time: All those relatives can be overwhelming. If you need a break – take one. Find a comfy chair in an unoccupied room. Retreat to the patio for a minute or two. Step into the restroom if you have to. Take a few deep breaths. Regroup. Don’t hide in your retreat all day, but give yourself the quiet alone-time you need to keep a healthy mental state.
  • Treat Yourself: Your holiday weekend may look a lot different than it used to. Find a way to treat yourself that starts a new personal tradition. Maybe you buy yourself a gift on Black Friday. Maybe you devote some time to reading your favorite book. You might even stay in your pj’s one day and watch your favorite movie series. Do something that helps you look forward to the holiday in a new, sober way.
  • Disengage: This is toughest for people-pleasers. Keep this in mind as you interact with friends and family: You don’t have to have conversations you don’t want to. Yes, there are times when we have to have tough talks, but there are also many times when it’s okay to say “I’m not going to have that conversation,” change the subject, or excuse yourself. If a conversation (or relationship) is hurting more than helping, disengage.
  • BYOBeverage: If you’re concerned about what drinks might be served with dinner, bring your own. This is an easy way to avoid awkward drink refusals. Bring something fun, like sparkling juices, to share with everyone.
  • Hang With the Kids: This can provide a breath of fresh air. If the adults are getting too serious or stressful, an energetic game of tag, a silly round of “I spy,” or a simple giggle-fest can provide the perfect release.
  • Serve: Help out wherever you can. Doing dishes, setting the table, or making a casserole keeps the focus off you. This will prevent you from crawling inside your head; you don’t want to get trapped there. So, pick up a dish towel.
  • Keep a Healthy Perspective: If you have a negative interaction with someone, don’t let it spoil your day. Remember, the things people say and do are rarely (if ever) about you. It’s always about them. Their story. Their reactions. Their perceptions of events and the world. You can’t control that. But, you can control your reaction to them.
  • Find a Meeting: You aren’t the only one struggling this holiday. If you are away from home, there are meetings nearby. Take an hour before or after dinner and attend one.
  • Be Thankful: An attitude of gratitude will help you stay sober. What better timing than on Thanksgiving to focus on your blessings? Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Maybe you even write them on a note card or set reminders on your phone, so you see them throughout the holiday. As you fill your mind with gratitude, you’ll stay focused on the positive and truly give thanks.

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