For many of us, 4th of July means barbecuing, fireworks and spending time with loved ones. But the reality often looks quite different, and the holiday stressors quickly pile up for those of us trying to stay sober this holiday weekend.

Family members expect holiday perfection, and they often demand every ounce of your time and energy—and patience. The family menu is a constant carb-load, and if you’re traveling, that puts a strain on your wallet. Packed airports, tight schedules, liquid lunch for Aunt Sally. Everyone is running on empty.

On top of that, it may be harding for you to take time away to check into a Reframe meeting, and you it may be harder to get ahold of other sober friends since they are just as busy. How does anyone stay sober during the 4th of July? Here are four tried-and-true tips and strategies that will prepare you for this weekend, help you avoid any relapses or slips, and protect you from any uncomfortable situations.

1. Have a Prevention Plan

The first tip sounds like a no-brainer, but plan ahead. Holiday-themed parties and family gatherings are often soaked in alcohol, and people are likely to offer you a drink—and they might be dumbstruck when you prefer to be sober. Plan ahead for uncomfortable situations and triggering environments. What might your holiday plan involve?

  • Attend a Reframe meeting beforehand, or invite a sober friend to tag along
  • Bring your own alcohol-free drink options
  • Find your own transportation, or hitch a ride with someone in your support system
  • Limit your time around stressful situations and difficult people
  • Prepare to politely refuse alcohol
  • Have an escape plan if things go south (no problem if you need to pull an irish goodbye!)

Don't be surprised by a trigger. If you come prepared to protect your sobriety, you should be able to outmaneuver your stressors and avoid any potential slips.

2. Want to stay sober? Stay helpful

If you want to stay sober this weekend, look for every opportunity to be of service or volunteer. Help in the kitchen or make food for a party, reach out to a new Reframe user in the forum, spend time with an elderly loved one or neighbor. There are a million different ways to give back, pay it forward and be of service, and each opportunity guides you further away from resentment, self-pity and fear.

When you take the opportunity to connect with others—to see, value and honor their experience—you exercise empathy. You exist outside of yourself, and you begin to notice all the things you have to be grateful for.

3. Be mindful of what you're drinking—and thinking

At family gatherings and social events, tote around your favorite non-alcoholic drink. People won't feel so inclined to offer you a drink, and they won't get the chance to pester you about your sobriety. Be mindful of asking someone else to grab you a drink. They may misunderstand you or forget that you don't intend to drink alcohol. If you do accidentally take a sip of an alcoholic beverage, don't panic. It's only a sip, and it doesn't mean you've relapsed—or that you should entertain the thought of relapsing now. Play the tape forward, take a sip of water and if you need to, check in on the forum for support.

If those thoughts begin to creep in—those rationalizations about your eminent capability to now handle your liquor—shut them down immediately. The damage is done, and there's no going back. Instead, talk it out with other’s on the Reframe forum or your sober friends. A mistake is not a relapse.

4. Practice self-care throughout the weekend

Celebrate the long weekend and the fullness of your sober life by taking time for yourself. Proper nutrition, gentle exercise and restorative sleep can do wonders for your well-being. The better you feel physically, the stronger you will be emotionally. Nourish your spirit, too, through personal reflection and connection with those you love. Find some quiet time each day for relaxation and meditation—if only for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. And let the highest version of yourself be your guide.

5. The Bottom Line

Getting through the holidays, especially when you first try to change your drinking habits, is hard. It could take some time and effort to find a strategy that helps you navigate them effectively, but you do have plenty of options for support– that’s why we’re here. At Reframe, we teach you how to reduce your alcohol consumption with a neuroscience approach. If you've decided it's time to change the way that alcohol is showing up in your life, there's an app for that.

Reframe is the #1 alcohol reduction app, built to help you drink less and live more. Whether your goal is to cut back or quit drinking entirely, Reframe’s neuroscience approach can help you change the way alcohol shows up in your life. With an  evidence-based, education program, progress tracking, a private community, and a multitude of tools (think meditations, courses and workshops), you’ve got everything you need to change your relationship with booze at the click of a button. Need extra support? Uplevel your alcohol-free or alcohol-reduction journey with Reframe’s premium Thrive Coaching and get 1:1 access to a certified recovery coach, live coaching calls, and a curated video library.