No matter what holiday you celebrate, this can be a stressful time of year. There are so many factors: boozey parties, triggering relationships with family, the financial and social pressure of buying gifts if you do that. I’m over six years sober, and this holiday season is my seventh in sobriety. Beyond that, I’ve gone to many events (and experienced many stressors) in that time. The most helpful thing for me has been planning ahead, in both material and emotional ways. One practical way you can prepare is by making sure you have a good non-alcoholic beverage. Some parties may have seltzer or other NA options, but this isn’t always the case. It can be really uncomfortable to have nothing to drink while everyone else is holding a beverage. There’s always water, but it might be more fun to have something celebratory and seasonal. You might drink eggnog without the alcohol, for instance, or apple cider for the fall/winter vibes. Another practical way to plan is to check in with your sober support system beforehand. If you feel like you might need encouragement or someone to listen at any holiday event, tell someone you trust before the event. It can be hard to ask for help, but anyone who supports your sobriety will understand the request, even if they can’t be available that day. For your emotional health, it’s helpful to make a list of things that help ground you before any event you think might be stressful. This means you won’t have to choose what coping skill to use when you’re in a moment of heightened stress; when we’re feeling those intense emotions, it can be hard to make decisions. What works will be different for everyone, but some ideas are stepping outside for fresh air or a walk, suggesting a board game so that the focus isn’t on drinking or using, helping clean, finding a quiet space to meditate, focusing on your breath or doing a body scan, calling a friend, or any number of other things. It’s also important to check in with yourself while you’re out and make sure you can handle it. You can stay sober during the holidays, even if it’s hard. And once you do, you’ll have learned a lot about what helps you through challenges sober. If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build the tools to get through any life event sober. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.