You deserve to have the Christmas you want. In all the madness of caring for others, don’t forget to plan for you – yourself. Knowing what actions you will take to certain triggers will mean that you are primed and ready to bat back any discomfort coming your way. And make sure you build your Christmas survival kit in advance!
Stocking up on alcohol-free rewards will make it less likely that you will succumb to ‘just one’ drink. Guard your sobriety goals this Christmas, and you will find the next year a doddle!
Why you need a Christmas survival kit
At Club Soda, we believe the better planned you are the more likely you are to achieve your behaviour change goals. At a time like Christmas, where alcohol is everywhere, and if you don’t partake you can be accused of rebuffing hospitality, it can be hard to stick to your goals.
It can be tempting to say ‘I will have Christmas off’ because you have managed to do so well, or think that because you managed the last eight months you can pick up again where you left off after the festive season. It is easier to feel ambivalent, especially if you have struggled so far. The festive season presents countless excuses to ditch your goals.
But it is not that easy. If changing your drinking habits were easy you would not be here. Do you really want to go through those tough first three months all over again? Do you want to reset the dial to day 1? Are you sure you can stop again? Will you feel a success for a failure?
Your first sober Christmas, birthday, wedding will all be difficult. But once you have done the first one, it gets easier. Chucking your goals before a ‘first’ is just copping out. It will have to come at some time!
If you can manage a sober Christmas I can assure you that every other social event will seem a doddle in comparison. So it is worth getting a sober Xmas under your belt!
How to start with your Christmas survival kit
Make a list of all possible triggers you will face over the next few weeks. From the smell of mulled wine to the nagging voice at the back of your head saying ‘you deserve a treat, it’s Christmas.’ Think about where and when this trigger may happen (will you be at home or will you be at a party or even at work)? How in control of your environment will you be? This will affect what you can and cannot do in response to that trigger.
Look at each of the items on the list and decide for each situation whether the best tactic is to
- Control the trigger: Can you turn up late or go home early? Drive or take yourself away from the situation for a while? Can you fill your fridge in advance?
- Avoid it: Can you change the plans, not go or just decline?
- Escape: Know that you can leave at any time, or have a person who will make sure you go when things get hard. Will you need an escape plan?
- Replace: Get some alcohol-free mulled wine, craft sodas, cake, or stick your headphones on. Can you replace a possible trigger with something more wholesome?
- Understand: It may be that there is little you can do, but give yourself some time to reflect on the situation. Understand why it triggers you, and know how you will plan better next time – it will keep you distracted for five minutes at the very least!
What to put in your Christmas survival kit
Make a list. Actually, make lots of lists:
- Things you like doing with other people; watching films, going to markets, sex …
- Things you like doing alone
- Things that make you happy
- Things you wish you had more time for
- Odd jobs that you still have not done
- Things you like to eat and drink.
How your kit fits into a WOOP
Woop stands for Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan – you can use this acronym to plan your whole Christmas goal, or just the day ahead. In either case, the list of triggers and things you enjoy are key to the Obstacle and Plan parts of your WOOP plan too.
Look at the situations and decide what on your lists is your ‘If …Then’ action or item. For example:
IF the trigger is ‘Uncle Bernie gets boring and hard to deal with’ THEN your plan is to get our your favourite board game for everyone to play while he dribbles in front of the telly (do you need to set up a games room?).
IF the trigger is the smell of mulled wine, THEN create your own alcohol-free version.
IF cooking lunch is tiring and stressful THEN telling everyone you are having 90 minutes off whilst they wash up to have a bath (make sure you run it before they start washing up) and get in loads of goodies for you, or even watch a bit of telly whilst you are in there.
This time of year you need to protect your sobriety goals. So don’t:
- Feel guilty about asking for what you need
- Be afraid of asking for help
- Feel bad for protecting your treats and drinks where they cannot be nabbed by anyone else!
I would say good luck, but you don’t need luck – because you have a plan!