Regardless of how long you’ve been sober, the holiday season can be incredibly challenging for people in recovery. With countless holiday parties, family gatherings and reunions with friends, this time of year can put you in tough or tempting situations.

Throughout these potentially uncomfortable events, however, it’s important to remember that you have the strength to abstain from drinking or using drugs. In fact, you can make this holiday season your best one yet while still staying sober! Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout the holiday season.

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 why drinking is such a popular holiday tradition. Many turn to alcohol as a way to loosen up during awkward family gatherings or cope with holiday anxieties, but it’s a way of escaping reality. There are other, healthier ways to survive this time of year while in recovery. In addition, you’ll be better able to remember the precious moments you share with loved ones without alcohol fogging your memory.

Many people make it through the holiday season without even thinking about alcohol. Unfortunately, for some people in recovery, it’s common to feel pressured to drink. 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. If you do choose to go, it’s a good idea to have a plan — including an exit strategy and how to answer questions you may get — in case things get too overwhelming.

Stay Present

Instead of going through the holidays on autopilot, practice the art of living in the moment. In the past, your drinking may have caused you to pass up or not be fully present for fun holiday activities with friends or community members. Now that you’re sober, it’s the perfect time to stir up some holiday spirit! Noone expects you to suddenly become the jolliest person in the world, but your sober presence will be enough to spark joy for your friends and family.

And, since you’ll no longer have to deal with the shame of hiding your drinking or going overboard, you can begin to make new, positive memories with your loved ones. Once you create some new sober traditions, you can look forward to celebrating them each year in the future!

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 up to those you care about. Though they may not completely understand what you’re going through, many of them would likely love to discuss your brave new lifestyle. Few people want to bring up another guest’s recovery out of nowhere, but they’ll be happy to hear about your sobriety if you open up about it yourself.

So, don’t be afraid to bring it up on your own. Family gatherings are a great opportunity to discuss important issues and get everyone involved in what could be an insightful, positive conversation. Those in your life who don’t know what it’s like to live with an addiction could benefit greatly from learning more from your perspective.

The best way to get the most out of your sober holiday season is to focus on what’s truly important: the people you care about and your overall health and wellness. These are the holidays that you will think of the most, as they will be filled with moments that you can truly cherish — and remember!