Katherine Ketcham

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4 Tips to Make Your Holiday Parties Better for Non-Dri...

It’s okay not to drink. In fact, it’s normal, a fact that many people tend to forget, especially around the holidays.

My husband, Pat, quit drinking thirty-three years ago, and he is not at all shy about telling people he’s in long-term recovery. Yet even close friends and relatives who know his story still try to foist alcohol on him.

At holiday parties, people insist him to try “at least a sip” because they brought the alcohol as a gift, or express incredulity at Pat’s description of himself as an alcoholic. “I never saw you drunk or out of control,” one woman once said, “so how could you be an alcoholic?”

Even at a New Year’s Eve party, another friend offered Pat a glass of champagne. When he replied, simply, “No, thanks,” this friend took the opportunity to extol the virtues of moderation.

Moderation may work for some but it does not work for Pat and an estimated 23 million people in this country who are in recovery from alcohol or other drug addiction — including our son Ben, who recently celebrated his tenth year of recovery. Alcohol works its poison slowly, but poison it is, in large and small amounts for those who are susceptible to its addictive effects – and for untold others who get caught up in the party spirit and overly imbibe.

During this holiday season when alcohol flows so freely at intimate family gatherings, holiday parties, and New Year’s Eve celebrations, here’s a short list of suggestions for hosts that will make life easier for non-drinkers and drinkers alike:

 

  1. Respect “no” as an answer

When someone says, “No thank you” to an offer of beer, wine, or spirits, don’t push, nudge, cajole, or question.  Take no for an answer, point to the table containing the different beverages (be sure the non-alcoholic selections get equal space) and say, “We have a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, what can I get one for you?”

  1. Get creative with these non-alcoholic beverage ideas
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice with sparkling water (Perrier or sugar- and calorie-free waters such as Refreshe or La Croix )
  • Fruit or vegetable-infused water (watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, mint, lemons, limes, the list goes on and on) are super hydrating and pretty to look at, too.
  • It’s always a good idea to offer several different sodas (ginger ale, colas, root beer, 7-up, sugar free-sodas) or flavored sparkling waters.
  • Forget punches or pitchers of beverages (eggnog for example) that are laced with alcohol; they’re too easy to mistake as non-alcoholic.
  • Garnishes such as lemons, limes, and mint are fun additions to non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic beverages. Put them in little bowls on the beverage tables.
  1. Keep nutritious snacks stocked to curb cravings

Nutritious, high protein snacks help control blood sugar, which can drop around party time (typically late afternoon) and trigger cravings. You don’t have to get fancy–try crackers and cheese; nuts or seeds (cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds); bruschetta with tomato and basil; or antipasto plates.

  1. Set out a board game or puzzle on a coffee or dining room table

We always have a jigsaw puzzle going and people love to gather around and concentrate on something other than drinking and small talk (of course, drinkers are also welcome).

 

Remember: It’s okay not to drink. In fact, it’s “normal.” And for many millions of people, not drinking is in fact life-saving. I encourage you to try some of these tips this holiday season and throughout the year at any and every social gathering.

 

Looking for more great reads?

 

Excerpted from The Only LIfe I Could Save, by Katherine Ketcham

Katherine Ketcham has been writing nonfiction books for over 30 years and has coauthored 16 books—10 of which are on the subject of addiction and recovery. Her books have been published in 16 languages. Ketcham has led treatment and recovery efforts at the Walla Walla Juvenile Justice Center, and in 2002 she founded Trilogy Recovery Community. She lives in Washington State. Her newest book, The Only Life I Could Save, is being published by Sounds True and will be on available on April 1, 2018.

 

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What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
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  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

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Ignite empathy as a superpower for personal healing, deeper relationships, and more potent work in the world. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Judith Orloff draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and energy medicine to show us how to access our sensitivities, soothe our nervous systems, and embody our most fierce and authentic selves.

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