Regardless of how long you’ve been sober, the holiday season is often the time of year where your recovery is challenged the most. With countless holiday parties, family gatherings, and reunions with friends, this time of year can put you in uncomfortable positions if you’re not careful. But throughout these potentially awkward encounters, it’s important to remember that it’s not only more than possible to remain sober: It’s also possible to make this sober holiday season the best one yet.

Remember That the Holidays Aren’t About Drinking

The holidays don’t have to feel any less special just because you’re sober. When it comes down to it, there’s no real reason that drinking is such a popular holiday tradition. Drinking may have always made partaking in family small talk or coping with holiday anxieties a little easier, but there are other, healthier ways to survive this time of year while in recovery.

Maybe you can make it through the holiday season sober with no problems. But for most people in recovery, it is pretty common to feel pressured to give in to old ways. When you’re asked to go out and celebrate, don’t be afraid to say “no” if you don’t feel comfortable being in a social drinking setting.

Stay Present

Instead of going through the holidays on autopilot, spend them practicing the art of living in the moment. Don’t be afraid to get involved in activities that would have once been passed up when this season involved heavy drinking and escaping your anxieties. Now that you no longer have to deal with the shame of hiding your drinking from family members, make some positive holiday memories with them. You can take comfort in the fact that you will actually be able to remember them this time around.

Open Up About Your Sobriety

You may feel like you have to keep your recovery to yourself as a way to make your family members feel comfortable. Instead, consider using the holidays as an opportunity to open to those you care about, even if they may not completely understand what you’re going through. You may even be surprised by just how many of them would love to discuss your brave new lifestyle; most of them just might not know how to bring up the topic. So, don’t be afraid to bring it up on your own. This is a great chance to discuss important issues and get everyone involved in what could be an insightful, positive conversation. Those in your life who will never know what it’s like to live with a substance or alcohol use disorder could benefit greatly from hearing about addiction from your perspective.

The best way to get the most out of your sober holiday season is to focus on what’s important. Form new memories and allow yourself to be vulnerable around your loved ones. These are the holidays that you will remember the most, because they will be filled with moments that you can truly cherish.