Using AA Slogans to Deal with Holiday Stress

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You can recite these slogans like a mantra, and center your mind on your own mental health and happiness—and your sobriety

Trying to Have a Sober Holiday? These Slogans Will Make It Your Best Yet

The holiday season can be incredibly stressful for people who are new to recovery or AA. Maybe it will be your first time seeing extended family since you got sober. It might be the first time you encounter alcohol or other drugs in "the real world," and you don't have a sober support system there to guide you. Or maybe it's the first time you re-experience family conflict or dysfunction now that you're sober.

Everything is going to be okay. Your arrival on this page is not by accident: you already know the holidays might threaten your sobriety, and you're concerned enough about protecting your sobriety to make a plan.

That's a really good start. If your heart and mind stay in the right place, and if you continue to "do the next right thing," your sobriety should find solid footing this holiday season.

With all that being said, the holidays will still be stressful. That's true for everyone—not just people who are new to recovery or AA. That's why you need a few simple AA slogans to point your heart and mind in the right direction, and to help you stay not only sober, but happy and calm too.

How Do Slogans Work? Are They a Spell of Some Sort?

Now you might be wondering, "how do AA slogans help during the holidays" or "how can slogans possibly keep me sober?"

The short answer: these AA slogans will focus your energy into productive thoughts and behaviors. Rather than backsliding into fear, negativity or blame, you can control your response to holiday and family stress—and you can actually rewire your brain.

Then if you can't attend an AA meeting or another support group, you can recite these slogans like a mantra, and center your mind on your own mental health and happiness—and your sobriety.

Here Are Seven of Our Favorite AA Slogans for the Holidays

Have we convinced you to give AA slogans a try this holiday season? Here are seven slogans that we love to recite whenever holiday stress reaches fever pitch, helping us to center and ground ourselves in the principles of good recovery.

Easy Does It

Happiness is not a race, and neither is recovery. In fact, any attempts to hack or crack them are likely to have the opposite effect. Happiness is achieved not in its reckless pursuit, but as a complement to other sensations and feelings of fulfillment. Recovery is much the same way, and you will get nowhere fast by attempting to speed-run it.

Go easy. Take time for yourself and your recovery. Be present and mindful, and find a physical or mental space from which you draw calm energy. You are on a long journey toward happiness and fulfillment; you have to go easy or you will never get there.

First Things First

Some priorities change over time, but your sobriety should always come first. This holiday season, you might be especially tempted to move your priorities around, preferring to nail down the shopping list or hang out with family. That's completely fine, but your recovery must still come first. Remember, "Whatever you put before your sobriety, you are likely to lose."

If you want to balance all your priorities and have a good sober holiday, come prepared with a list of self-care techniques that help you re-invest in long-term sobriety. Then practice them, no matter the cost, on a regular schedule and whenever you feel the need.

Live and Let Live

What a great reminder that we all do things differently, and that's okay. Maybe your uncle drives you nuts, or maybe your parents have holiday expectations or traditions that send you up a wall. Live and let live. Everyone has their own set of priorities, and everyone attempts to fulfill their needs differently. There's nothing wrong with that, so long as your sobriety isn't in danger.

Set boundaries whenever necessary, then tend to your own garden and let others tend to theirs. You should be all the calmer for it.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

As Dwight from The Office says, "Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time."

This holiday season, try to keep it simple. You can't do everything, and you can't meet everyone's expectations (without sacrificing your own mental health). Rather than trying to accomplish everything, simplify your sober holidays by choosing a few things that really matter to you, then fully participate in them. When things start to feel overwhelming, pare down your schedule, simplify your itinerary and hit a meeting. The holidays don't have to be complicated to be beautiful.

Take What You Like and Leave the Rest

Remember, recovery gives you the unflappable power to choose. You can slow down and choose how you spend your time, energy and money. You can embrace whichever holiday traditions you like the most, and you can celebrate whichever relationships you cherish the most. These are the things with which to fill your recovery, and these are the bonds that strengthen your sobriety. If anyone has an issue with your priorities, we have an AA slogan for them.

This Too Shall Pass

The holidays can be incredibly difficult, whether you're sober and in recovery or not. There's nothing wrong with having a hard time. The first step is always acceptance. Then do whatever you can to protect your sobriety: attend extra meetings, schedule time with sober friends and commit to regular prayer or meditation.

Recovery has good days and bad, and part of recovery is how you handle the lows without resorting to alcohol or other drugs. You can handle these feelings sober, and you can absolutely trust that "This too shall pass."

Keep Coming Back

Family conflict and holiday stress can produce some uncomfortable emotions, causing old patterns to bubble up from beneath the surface. If you feel self-pity, fear or resentment creeping up, hit a meeting. You don't have to face those feelings alone. In fact, the halls of AA and other support groups will be filled with familiar faces, and plenty of recovering addicts and alcoholics* will be navigating the holidays together.

Keep coming back. You can count on your community to have your back, to love you unconditionally and to help you get through the holidays relatively unscathed.

* Editor's note: We much prefer the person-first language that emphasizes a person's identity before their disease. However, in keeping with the history of AA and NA, their founding principles and the language that still exists within the fellowships, we have decided to keep the words addict and alcoholic to describe people with substance use disorders.

Our hope is merely to capture the spirit of the fellowships, and to approach people with the language they commonly use to describe the disease of addiction.

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