‘Tis the season for feasting with friends and family. Here’s how to avoid excess on your own terms (without dimming that glorious end-of-year buzz!)
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Routines change, socialising increases and cultural expectations widen. Collectively, we’re thrust onto a chaotic conveyor belt of pleasurable and obligatory customs.
And, although I’ve been semi-blissfully alcohol-free for over 2-years – holiday events still feel challenging to face without my usual side-kick of Prosecco.
Quite frankly, whilst juggling the expectations of my tumultuous family, an increase in dinners with my beautiful wine-appreciating friends and those scorching end-of-year work deadlines, it's the season when I’m most likely to grieve the loss of her altogether.
If you’re in the same boat and mindfully trying to refrain from participating in excess that feels harmful to your well-being (with anything – alcohol, shopping, partying or worrying,) I hope the following tips help ease your mind and stack your emotional toolbox with actions that help.
I’m type-A, but I think preparing ahead of time is important. In western culture, our friends at holiday-themed parties and family gatherings tend to shop, party, eat and drink heavily. If you decline an offer, they may be taken aback.
Prepare in advance for stressful and potentially triggering circumstances and what ways you can self-soothe if something feels slightly off. For me, this looks like remaining very mindful about why I decided alcohol wasn’t for me and shopping for some delicious fizzy alternatives like Kin, Ghia or Curious Elixirs.
If you feel bitter or are going back over old memories and events from your past because of the holidays, it may be helpful to tell a friend about how you're feeling.
Personally, this often looks like being open with my partner about any lingering sobriety vulnerabilities that arise before a party. (My holiday season used to look like a swinging vine between hangovers a, b and c.)
I also find it helpful to acknowledge that drinking or partying in excess is not a cure for my pent-up tension and has never worked for me.
If your cultural, health, or emotional needs mean you will need to avoid communal offerings at holiday events (perhaps you’re celiac, perhaps you feel triggered by fatphobia, perhaps a post-meal sherry isn’t in your wheelhouse) – arm yourself with alternatives that make you feel good.
Bringing along a nice plate of food that suits your diet, removing yourself from uncomfortable conversations or sipping something soothing can feel like an empowering way to feel connected to the party while maintaining your personal preferences.
You don’t need to feel removed from your friends and family by doing things slightly differently. If anyone has a problem with it – that’s their journey.
Whether it’s the “most wonderful time of the year” or not – take care of yourself! This holiday season, reflect on how far you've come in establishing your youtime.
Ensure you get enough sleep, nourish your body, and take the necessary space. No matter how hectic your day may be, try to carve out a few minutes for some peaceful reflection and meditation; read a book, take a bath, and take a breath.
Celebrating the season with delicious food, drinks, gathering, and gifting is a beautiful ritual shared universally. If you choose to indulge in any enjoyable activity, that’s a wonderful thing to do (and kind of the point of it all?)
If you wake up feeling a little so-and-so from a food coma or a champagne hangover – you’re not a bad person, you’re great, and I hope you had so much fun with your special people. If you spend a whole paycheck on gifts for your family and feel your heart burst as they unwrap the packaging, that’s pretty special, too.
My advice is to treat your body, mind, finances and time in a way that feels comfortable, gratifying and memorable. I think I deserve that, and you do too.
Happy holidays x