7 Ways To Celebrate Your First Sober Thanksgiving

7 Ways To Celebrate Your First Sober Thanksgiving

When you’re recovering from an alcohol use disorder (also called alcohol addiction), Thanksgiving can bring a great deal of stress. You might have no idea how to celebrate the holiday without alcohol.

However, many people enjoy their first sober Thanksgiving each year. If you want to join them, try these tips.

1. Prepare For Triggers

Thanksgiving celebrations often include triggers. A trigger is anything that makes you crave alcohol. For instance, you might be triggered by the smell of alcohol, the presence of an old drinking buddy, or an argument that makes you feel sad, angry, or stressed.

Some triggers can be avoided. For example, you can skip a get-together if you know most of the guests are heavy drinkers.

However, other triggers take you by surprise. In those cases, you can use coping skills, such as deep breathing or thinking of all the reasons you quit alcohol. You can also call or text a sober friend for support.

If you get too overwhelmed, take a break in a quiet room, go for a walk, or leave the event.

2. Host A Sober Thanksgiving Dinner

One of the best ways to avoid triggers is to host your own Thanksgiving dinner. Your sober friends will appreciate this stress-free way to celebrate. Put up decorations, play some music, and plan alcohol-free activities like playing board games or watching movies.

Also, get plenty of non-alcoholic seasonal beverages, such as hot chocolate, apple cider, and eggnog. You could also prepare festive mocktails like virgin apple cider sangria.

However, some people find mocktails triggering, so check with your guests first. In addition, make sure any non-sober guests know the event is alcohol-free.

3. Enjoy Fall Activities

Early in addiction recovery, some people get triggered by all celebratory meals, even if there’s no alcohol involved.

If you feel this way, skip the festive feasts and celebrate with a fall-related activity instead. For example, you could:

  • visit a pumpkin patch
  • pick apples
  • explore a corn maze
  • go for a hayride
  • hike
  • camp

While these activities help you commemorate the season, they also take your mind off drinking. To stay extra safe, only invite loved ones who don’t drink (or who agree to not drink during the activity).

4. Volunteer

Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and helps you feel more grateful for what you have.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, you could help serve food at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or nursing home. You could also gather old toys or shop for new ones and donate them to a charity that provides holiday presents to families in need.

Although you can volunteer alone, lots of people prefer to invite friends and family members. In fact, some families volunteer as an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

5. Go For A Turkey Trot

A Turkey Trot is a footrace held on Thanksgiving Day. Hosted in numerous cities, these casual races welcome running, jogging, or walking.

Most Turkey Trots last about 3 miles, though some are shorter or longer. No matter the length, the race will benefit both your physical and mental health.

Exercise boosts endorphins, which are brain chemicals that reduce stress and promote pleasure. In general, the better you feel, the less likely you are to crave alcohol.

As with volunteering, you can invite your loved ones to the Turkey Trot and make it a special tradition.

6. Attend A Support Group

While you navigate your first sober Thanksgiving, you might feel like no one understands you. That’s where support groups come in.

The most popular alcohol addiction support group is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Other options include SMART Recovery, LifeRing, and Women For Sobriety. All of these groups hold meetings where you can discuss challenges, triumphs, and coping skills.

On Thanksgiving, many groups hold meetings all day long. A morning meeting can motivate you to stay sober throughout the day, while a night meeting can help you process any triggering events that occurred.

7. Focus On Gratitude

Although your first sober Thanksgiving brings challenges, it’s an amazing accomplishment. Take time to feel grateful for your recovery journey and the people who’ve supported you.

According to the National Institutes of Health, feeling grateful can help you cope with stress, which is a common cause of relapse.

That’s why many people in recovery practice gratitude every day. Some express their gratitude while praying or meditating. Others simply list the things they’re grateful for in a journal. These practices can help you stay calm and sober all year long.

If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our substance abuse and addiction treatment programs offer a variety of evidence-based treatments, including mental health counseling and support groups.

Written by
Recovering Champions Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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