The “Happiest Season Of All” can be a big challenge to navigate alcohol-free, especially in early sobriety. But with the right strategies you can cope with holiday season anxiety and family stress without drinking over it.

Let’s be real, facing the holidays with your family without a drink in hand can be awkward. Maybe you’re used to drinking to celebrate or to cope with loneliness. 

You might use alcohol to push through a packed social schedule or navigate family gatherings. 

Anyway you look at it, there’s a reason that getting through the holidays alcohol-free can be challenging.

But it can be done and you’ll find that being fully present, without adding a substance that increases anxiety and depression during the holidays can be wonderful.

So I asked Dr. Aaron Weiner, PhD, a board certified psychologist and an addiction specialist, for guidance on how to move through holiday season anxiety and family stress without throwing away your sober momentum. 

We chatted about everything from planning ahead for drinking events and  family gatherings, setting healthy boundaries and managing negative thought patterns that can sneak up on us during this time of year.

In this episode, Casey and Aaron discuss:

  • How to cope with overwhelm, stress and drinking events during the holidays
  • The importance of prioritizing and communicating your needs
  • How to manage difficult family dynamics with boundaries, curiosity and empathy
  • Survival strategies and how to enjoy holiday parties when you’re not drinking
  • Conversations about why you’re not drinking and how to frame your decision as a health and wellness choice
  • Understanding and managing your anxiety
  • Aaron’s favorite apps for starting a meditation and mindfulness practice

Resources Mentioned In The Episode:

  • 5 Tips for Holiday Stress – A fantastic read where Aaron shares tips on managing stress during the holiday season, offering practical advice that complements our conversation.
  • 4 Tips to Reduce Anxiety – Aaron’s insights on reducing anxiety provide a valuable perspective, aligning with our discussion on recognizing signs of anxiety and managing panic attacks.
  • Deep Breathing for Anxiety Reduction – Exploring deep breathing techniques, Aaron’s article offers an in-depth look at how this practice can be a powerful tool for anxiety reduction.

Hello Someday Podcast Episodes On How To Enjoy A Sober Holiday Season

Your Sober Holiday Survival Guide with Jean McCarthy of Unpickled and The Bubble Hour

How To Enjoy Your First Sober Holiday Season

A Sober Girls Guide To The Holiday Season

Holding Your Hand Through A Sober Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Hello Someday Podcast Episodes On Anxiety, Boundaries, People Pleasing, Negative Thought Patterns, Your Inner Critic, Perfectionism, Toxic Relationships and Codependency

How To Manage And Minimize Anxiety In Sobriety Hello Someday Coaching

Podcast Interview on How To Stay Sober In Times Of Stress | Hello Someday Coaching

Using Breathwork in Sobriety I Calm Your Nervous System, Reduce Anxiety + Increase Joy | Hello Someday Coaching 

Codependency Recovery and People Pleasing in Early Sobriety | Podcast | Hello Someday Coaching 

The Hello Someday Podcast For Sober Curious Women: Why High-Achieving Women Struggle To Set Boundaries on Apple Podcasts 

Resolving Internal Conflict and Restoring Harmony | Hello Someday Coaching

Understanding Negative Thought Patterns | Hello Someday Coaching

Navigating A Toxic Relationship With A Narcissist | Hello Someday Coaching   

Your inner critic isn’t helping you. Stop beating yourself up and start feeling better. | Hello Someday Coaching

Overcoming Perfectionism | Hello Someday Coaching

How To Make Perfectionism Work For You | Hello Someday Coaching   

3 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More

Join The Sobriety Starter Kit, the only sober coaching course designed specifically for busy women. 

My proven, step-by-step sober coaching program will teach you exactly how to stop drinking  — and how to make it the best decision of your life.

Save your seat in my FREE MASTERCLASS, 5 Secrets To Successfully Take a Break From Drinking 

Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.

Connect with me for free sober coaching tips, updates + videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok @hellosomedaysober.

Connect with Dr. Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP

Aaron Weiner, PhD, is a licensed, board-certified psychologist and master addiction counselor. Dr.Weiner is a clinician, author, and frequent speaker on addiction treatment and issues.

Learn more about Dr. Weiner and how he can support you at Weinerphd.com

Listen & subscribe to Dr. Weiner’s mental health and addiction podcast, Let’s Talk with Dr. Aaron Weiner

Follow Dr. Weiner on LinkedIn

Watch & subscribe to Dr Weiner YouTube Channel

Connect with Casey

Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


Are you looking for the best sobriety podcast for women? The Hello Someday Podcast was created specifically for sober curious women and gray area drinkers ready to stop drinking, drink less and change their relationship with alcohol.

Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life and sobriety coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking and The Sobriety Starter Kit Sober Coaching Course, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol-free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this is the best sobriety podcast for you.

A Top 100 Mental Health Podcast, ranked in the top 0.5% of podcasts globally with over 1 million downloads, The Hello Someday Podcast is the best sobriety podcast for women.

In each episode, Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol-free life. 

Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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Holiday Season Anxiety and How To Cope With Family Stress with Dr. Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP


feel, drinking, people, work, breathing, hard, family, anxiety, holiday, stress, alcohol, boundaries, podcast, situation, party, panic attack, brain, folks, plan, prepare, meditate, pattern, nonalcoholic, breathwork, curiosity, empathy, you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, mindful meditation


SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Dr. Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

Hi there. Today we are talking about


Holiday season anxiety, and how to cope with family stress.


My guest today is Dr. Aaron Weiner. He’s a Board Certified Psychologist and an Addiction Specialist. And he speaks nationally on topics of addiction and behavioral health and the impact of drug policy on public health. His perspective is informed by his years of experience growing and directing addiction service lines for hospitals and healthcare systems. And Aaron, welcome to the podcast.



Oh my gosh, so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.


Casey McGuire Davidson  02:01

Yeah, well, we met because we were both part of a New York Times article on The Best Quit Lit To Read If You Want To Take A Break From Drinking or Quit Completely. And another podcaster, a friend of mine, Mary Tilson, who does The Sun and Moon Sober Living podcast had interviewed you and said you were fantastic. So, I’m glad we got to meet through that contact.



Thank you. That’s incredibly kind of you and of her. And I’m just excited to talk with you and listen to me, you know, it was, it’s always an honor to be able to contribute to articles like that, that can help, hopefully a lot of people. And I know I always look at the list of folks who are there to being like, Oh, these are these are probably people I’d like to know. And you’re doing fantastic work as well.

Casey McGuire Davidson  02:49

Yeah, well, so when we got together to talk about different things.

What I loved was your writing and your expertise.


And the work you’ve done around coping with family stress, especially with the holiday season coming up and anxiety around that is a really big challenge, if you are navigating life without alcohol.



I know a lot of us are used to drinking around the holidays, not just because there are celebrations it’s a traditional time of parties and gatherings at dinners with alcohol. But also, if you are traveling to see family members or if family members are coming to stay with you. It’s a lot of personalities, there’s some conflict, you’re not used to people. So, I think this is going to be a really useful conversation.



Yeah, well, that’s, as I’m sure you and your audience knows, drinking is at its core, a coping strategy, it’s a way of trying to get through stressful times. And the holidays are really stressful for a lot of folks. And so, if you’ve taken away that coping mechanism, because it’s ultimately very unhealthy for you, you’re still left with the stress, and you’ve got to figure out a way to deal with that effectively. Or either one it’ll just kind of suck or two can lead you maybe back to drinking when you don’t want to. So, we’re really happy to have this conversation today. Well, so


Casey McGuire Davidson  04:14

what are the first steps that someone might want to take it the holidays are coming up and they know, you know, you’re either traveling or someone staying with you. And it’s typically a difficult time in addition to being awesome, but still hard?



Yeah, well, like the double edged sword right? Like so many things in life. You know, the, if I had to distill it down to one idea, it would be, to plan and to go into it not feeling like, you’re shooting from the hip or you’re just holding on for dear life or you’re hoping that it will be okay. Much like when we talk with folks about how do you make it through any challenging circumstance, where it might be hard not to drink. Planning ahead, knowing where your triggers are your vulnerabilities setting your stuff up for success. The same general structure applies to dealing with a stressful situation like this. And I know we’ll get more into the how do you do that? Because you know, it’s great to say, well plan ahead, well, then then what do you plan that matters to, but really being thoughtful? Not going into it? improvising, it goes a really long way.


Casey McGuire Davidson  05:19

Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, one of the things I love to do with my clients, when the holiday season is coming up is to literally go through the exercise of…

What do you love about the season?

What is hard for you? Or what do you dislike about the season?

Who do you want to spend time with? And what are situations where you typically would drink? or it would be hard for you not to drink? is just a starting point of getting down on paper. The good stuff that you want to optimize and the hard stuff that you need to plan for?



Yeah, well, so you bring up a really excellent point, which is that. Whatever we focus on, we tend to magnify, and whatever we turn away from, we don’t necessarily hold our gaze to, tends to get smaller. And one of the issues with stress or stressful circumstances, like, if you have this, like, I’m going to see my family, and that’s looming over me like this ominous cloud, is that you tend to fixate on it. And maybe you make it out in your mind to be even worse than it’s going to be. Or even just all that real estate that it’s taking up in your consciousness, that ends up amplifying the feeling boxing out those things that you might really like about the season and ultimately be energy that you could be spending. Maybe planning in a more productive way or coping in a more productive way but setting you up again for success.


Casey McGuire Davidson  06:48

Yeah, absolutely. And I know that one of the things that I like to do, once you have your list down, is to the things that are really difficult for you, or the things that make you want to drink or that typically, are drinking activities to, you know, question whether you have to do it the way you’ve always done it. Or if you can shift it in some way. And I’m talking, including staying with your parents, you know, or having the entire family stay with you. There are amazing Airbnb’s and hotels for a very good reason.



Right? Well, so maybe we should dive in a little bit. Let’s dive in, into the house. So, you bring up Airbnb is people staying with you or people not staying with you. One of the biggest traps that we fall into with family is that we feel like we have to either directly continue on patterns that have not worked for us in the past, or roles that we’ve had in our family unit that maybe we felt like we needed to do, or it’s just what feels comfortable, but ultimately are causing us problems, perhaps again, like alcohol used to where it felt comfortable, but it was actually causing more problems, and it was worth. And so, if truly, you need personal space, or having every one of the house is a problem. If what you’ve been doing causes problems, it is actually okay to say family, mom, dad, brother, sister, whoever it is, I love you, I want to see you. And this is overwhelming for me. Or like this particular dynamic doesn’t work for me and feeling comfortable, confident empowered, to see something like that to set a boundary for something that would be healthy for you.

There’s a couple of things. One is, that you might actually set that boundary and the whole situation gets healthier for you but to it gives you a measure of freedom. Because feeling trapped is another huge stressor. We don’t like to feel like we’re backed in a corner, there’s nothing that we can do. This is just going to happen to us. That feels terrible. But sometimes we rob ourselves of our own agency where we do have the ability to say, you know, I really don’t want to do that. And then the moment you realize that, it maybe, it feels like a prison, but the door is open. And you actually can walk out and build a new pattern. Just knowing that option is there can turn down the temperature a little bit on the stress and the anxiety because you know you’re not trapped.


Casey McGuire Davidson  09:19

Yeah, and that’s hard sometimes, right? I’m just thinking of myself and what I know other people kind of put themselves through, right, you get into the situation where you’re like, Oh, my mom’s a widow, or I don’t want to hurt their feelings, or I rarely go home and they want to spend time with the grandkids or, you know, I’m their daughter, I should you know, they’re not going to be around for that long. Right? All that that guilt, that obligation that whatever it is, or, you know, if I say anything, it’s going to be a nightmare because they’re either going to like to go into It immense guilting of me or, you know, to some extent get angrier. You know what I mean all this stuff, right?



Well, in sometimes there’s some very toxic dynamics that have been present in families, even sometimes for decades, like that example that you gave, if I tried to set a boundary here for my own health, you know, I’m never going to hear the end of it, or I’m going to be guilty. I mean, if we really think about that for a second, what you would be doing is you’d be saying to someone, who you love, and who theoretically probably does love you saying, hey, this isn’t healthy for me, can we please do something different? And then the response if the response actually is, how could you You’re being so soft? Like, you’re being so selfish? What about me? Me, me, me, me? Like, wait a second, right? It’s like that. Yeah, like, that’s not actually what healthy love looks like, anyway, right? Like, if someone you love says, this is hurting me, then a healthy response would be Oh, my gosh, okay. Like, maybe you’re a little disappointed, but you don’t want someone to hurt the love. And so, you’re going to work, to try to make it okay for them. And that’s not to say that if someone you know, you’re a family member has that response, that they’re a bad person, or you should never talk to them again. But it does sometimes put into perspective, like, Am I doing this? Because it’s good for me? Am I doing this? Because kind of being like, passively blackmailed? If it’s the latter, is that how I want this relationship to function? Because the more you engage in that pattern, the more hardwired it gets. And just about any pattern can be shaped and changed over time, as long as the two parties involved actually want to be in each other’s life? Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  11:41

And sometimes it’s just figuring out what is the most important thing to the other person. And also, just realizing that small shifts, in my experience can help a lot. So, do you have to go for an entire week? Or can you go for four days or three days, you know, I find that phrasing it sometimes in a different way being like, oh, so excited to come home. But I would love to show my family, this area of town. So, we’re going to spend three nights with you. And then we’re going to go check out this other area. Or I know my, my mom really wanted my family to fly to Ohio. And it was just a big thing. And finally, I had to really just ask her to be like, what is the most important thing? What’s important to you about this? And turns out the most important thing to her was my niece, who was 20, and my daughter, who was seven, getting to know each other. So, I was like, alright, we can work around that. But, you know, she was proposing initially, both families getting together for a week at a resort that nobody wanted to do, you know, right?



Well, and even I would say, not to, like, push back on your mom at all. But no, I wouldn’t even necessarily say that she gets to make the decision about what’s best for your daughter or for her niece, you know, and it’s not to say that she can’t preferences or suggest things or have great ideas. But ultimately, I think whenever anybody really starts to put their needs in front of other people’s, right, like, if someone says, I’m uncomfortable with that, and the other person says, Well, too bad. You know, I don’t think you’re allowed to do that. Personally, I think, particularly in like healthy adult relationships, you know, like everyone is actually allowed to be okay, you know, we can all be okay, and we can find compromises. And if someone’s going to be very upset that you just want to feel okay, then okay, well, they might just have to deal with those feelings you could give in. But then you have to be the one to carry that burden, which might not actually ultimately be either appropriate or best and might perpetuate a toxic pattern.


Casey McGuire Davidson  14:01

Yeah. And one thing I find with the women I work with is sort of the very deep pull to not inconvenience anyone else. I mean, sometimes I’ll hear well, this is my problem. And I don’t want anyone else to have to shift what they do to accommodate me, or I don’t want them to know it’s as hard for me as it is if they sit around drinking multiple bottles of wine in front of me when I’m not drinking. And one of the things I always try to remind them of is this is your vacation too. So, your needs are not less than what everyone else is needs. And sometimes there can be a happy middle. You know, Brian well, in particularly,. when it comes to either like behavioral health things or addiction, it’s easy to marginalize yourself particular If you’ve internalized JSON, like shame, and you’re having trouble coming to grips with the past as you move forward into the future, where like, say you had a family member who has, like, I don’t know, like celiac disease and can’t have gluten, and they’re like, Well, I would love to come for Thanksgiving, but there can’t be any stuffing or what, you know, we can’t do the traditional stuffing, because I’m really afraid of contamination. You know, like, people might be like, yeah, like, I don’t want you to have to, like, go to the hospital or be in a bathroom all night, like, well, we’ll make dietary shifts for you. Because we love you, and you want you to be there, or we want you to be there.

Or the flipside would be, you know, like, you could say, there’s, there’s room to both be courteous and to say, Listen, I totally understand you’ve got these traditions, you’d like to have cocktails or to drink, and to have this presence, have this present there. I don’t know if I’m ready for that right now. Because I’m working in early recovery. And this just isn’t something I think I can do. And I won’t be upset if you’d really like to have your holiday. But, you know, if I’m there, this is just the situation. And like any other health concern, I think it’s very possible to one feel comfortable. And saying like this is this is an accommodation that I needed, at least at least right now. If not, maybe just indefinitely, but this is some accommodation. And if it doesn’t work for someone, like that’s totally okay, you don’t have to be angry that they might want their alcohol there if it’s important to them and that tradition, but by the same token, they should be okay. They can be okay with you being you.


Casey McGuire Davidson  16:26

And I also think that sometimes the people in your life don’t necessarily take it as seriously as you might or actually want you to drink think you’re being dramatic or hard on yourself or just are like, you know, they just don’t want to lose their drinking, buddy. And I think that that’s hard, right? Because they’re like, Oh, my God, you’re not going to drink on New Year’s, you’re not going to do XYZ. So, in my opinion, like, just phrasing it as a health and wellness choice can help as well. If you’re not ready to be like this as a health condition, in the same way that if you were choosing to become a vegetarian, you would expect them to respect that.


Casey McGuire Davidson 


Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.


The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.

This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 




Hey, yeah, I mean, like, Could you imagine if someone was like, you were going to dinner and they were like, pressuring you to eat meat? Like, what do you mean, you’re a vegetarian Here, have this bite, I’m going to push it in front of you. I’m going to even buy you a steak. I’m just going to watch it. That would be I’m just going to bully you to eat me. Yeah, there’ll be so mean. Yeah, there’s almost like, there’s some odd cultural, and like, our culture is oddly infused at times with alcohol. And sometimes in certain situations like drug related pressures, where you put that in any other context, and you’re like, why would you, like, blatantly disregard somebody’s choice? How is that? Okay? Or then if someone wants to say no, that they feel like they’re the ones stepping over the line? When they’re saying like, Hey, I don’t want to do this, you know, consensus important.


Casey McGuire Davidson  18:04

So, what are the other? I mean, there’s so many dynamics to let’s just dig into family stress, like, what are the things you typically see, for individual sake? Yet anyone? I would think you’d have children with parents, but it could be with a spouse or in laws, or whatever it is.



Yeah, well, there’s oftentimes, just interpersonal patterns, or preferences or lack of respect for boundaries, things that are being asked of you. Sometimes topics that are brought up. And again, there’s this feeling oftentimes of being like, I have to put up with this, or I’m going to be like the one causing all the drama, or yeah, I’ll be my fault that Everything’s ruined, or I’ll be making a scene at Christmas, or, you know, whatever it is. And so, people feel like they can’t set the boundaries that they need to set.


But what I found, and I should mention. So, I, as a Psychologist, we all have our theoretical orientations, ways that we go about working with folks to, to do therapy, and I’m very much in the cognitive behavioral realm, I put a lot of weight on the way that we think about and engage with our world, changing how we feel about it. And so, a lot it’s and that’s if you if we think back a few minutes to one I was speaking about, you focus on you magnify this idea that if you’re trapped, you feel more stressed. There’s a lot of ways that you can look at these situations or approached them differently to just lower the level of tension inside yourself.


So, we already spoke about knowing that there’s an exit that you don’t have to do anything that if you’re just getting very angry, you actually can leave like you can do that you can draw boundaries, whatever is required for you to be okay. Is okay. You can do that for yourself. Another trick that you can use, that sometimes helps say with anger if you find yourself getting irritated or angry at some and your family is to try as hard as this is sometimes to flex your empathy and curiosity muscles. Because what happens when instead of being in a judgmental mindset, and saying things like, they shouldn’t talk that way, to me, they shouldn’t think those things, they shouldn’t say those things. How could they have those political views? You know, whatever, whatever the case may be, if instead you think to yourself, what’s informing those views? Where are they coming from? Why might they talk this way? Or if they’re doing something that feels like it’s either out of character, or not out, or just not in line with your values? Ask yourself, well, where? Where are they coming from? And make it in some ways less about you? And just think about where, where are they coming from, because part of what we do, when we get angry at people oftentimes is we dehumanize them, we don’t think about them as like, this is someone I love. This is someone I have a history with. This is someone maybe I want a relationship with, we just think someone’s hurting me right now, emotionally, and I want it to stop right now. So, I’m going to snap or I’m going to wall myself off and get really closed off and shut, because that way, they won’t get through my armor, and then I will feel it. Whereas there’s other options there where you can keep yourself open, without necessarily either going on the offensive or the defensive.


Casey McGuire Davidson  21:20

One was boundaries. To what and stating what you need. Another one was, approaching some of your people or triggers or difficult situations with curiosity and empathy. What’s another technique? Because you mentioned there are some god, I feel like whenever I’m around my family, I suddenly revert to all the emotions I had at the age of 13. Did I feel like whatever your family designated you to be as a child, somehow, you could be 50 years old, and they’d still put you in that same box and treat you the same way.



Right? What will that says I just take some personal work, you’ve kind of got to, you’ve got to ahead of time, really, and this is great to do with a therapist or journaling on your own just thinking deeply about, like, what was my role in my family when I was growing up? Was I the one who made everything okay, all the time was I the perfect one was either failure was the clown was that, you know, there’s people oftentimes internalize these labels. And then in some ways, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or if you step back and look at how you’re being treated, or how you’re letting yourself be treated, in that environment, with your family versus any other place in your life, like a second. I’m not like that anywhere else. Awareness is the first step where you’ve got to see the pattern. And then once you see it, you can try to essentially do the opposite, maybe not quite so dramatic, but you can say, okay, so if I’m the one who is always being, I was always acquiescing, I’m always going along with things, I don’t want to rock the boat, I don’t want to cause trouble.


Maybe that was because your parents were angry all the time, or they would fight. Or maybe you found that if you did something, you calm down the tension in the house, or whatever it is. If you can see that, then you can say, okay, so I have that it feels very comfortable to supplicate myself or to kind of like lay down and get walked on. Because that pain I’m familiar with that disrespect I’m familiar with. And even if that doesn’t feel good, in some ways, I know how that feels. Whereas the idea of setting a boundary feels so tremendously scary, even if, intellectually, I know there might be a payoff there. It’s really hard to take that step, knowing in advance, it’s not going to feel right, knowing that there’s going to be all of these years of patterns that are saying, no, no, no, don’t do that. That’s not your role that’s not for you. So, you don’t deserve those sorts of good things. You just got to know that’s going to happen. But that’s not because it’s not the right thing to do, necessarily. That’s just because it’s not what you’re used to.


Casey McGuire Davidson  24:04

Yeah, I think that’s a good suggestion. And you know, in my mind if you’re, if you’re not drinking, and you have sober momentum, which is so precious and hard to get when you’re going into a holiday, it does help to anticipate that it’s going to be uncomfortable that even if you like I know my first holiday I was seven months alcohol free, and I expected it to be a breeze. My husband supported me I was proud of myself. I felt better. My mom knew I wasn’t drinking. And I still found it really hard when they brought out the wine to put on the dining room table. We hadn’t had wine in our house for ever. And I the next night had to be like alright, no, that was hard. I don’t want that anymore. But I was shocked at how was difficult, it was not necessarily for me not to drink, because I hadn’t been drinking for a long time, but emotionally to navigate all of the sorts of things that typically I would drink over, including, hey, it’s a special night and we’re having a big dinner and you know, all that conditioning that this alcoholic beverage should pair with that, right?



It’s one of the hardest things is to be patient with yourself in your recovery process. And to give yourself some grace, or to not even necessarily see it as a personal failure. If you have like a craving or you feeling triggered, and you’re like, oh, like, I’m seven months sober, I’m, I’m doing great. And then you hit like a difficult patch. Okay, you know, like, if this were easy, no one would need therapists like me, or programs like yours. I mean, everyone would be like, All right, time to make a behavioral change in my life, like, not drink anymore, after you know, and they just do it. But it’s a hard, it’s really difficult. And particularly, if you’ve had some success, when you hit those bumps in the road, even if you pop out the other side, and you’ve met your goals, it still can be a wakeup call and be like, okay, you know, like I I’m, this is still something that very much is resting within me and is not just taken care of, and all better.


Casey McGuire Davidson  26:18

I think it helps that anticipate that anything you’re doing for the first time without drinking will be uncomfortable, and does take some planning ahead of time, no matter no matter what it is. So certainly, your first Thanksgiving, your first New Year’s Eve, your first holiday, but including a cocktail party. For me, it was a white elephant party with all of our friends that we’ve been doing for 15 years. And it was the first time I wasn’t drinking at it. And I did all the preparation, and you know, had my alcohol free beverages. And everyone knew I wasn’t drinking, I mean, all the right things. And I also had to say to my husband, this is going to be really hard for me, right? I just, I’m used to drinking at this, I’m used to celebrating, but I also like you said, like, I was curious about how it would go and how it would feel and what would be different. If I didn’t drink. And it was it was good. I spent more time being present with the kids and remembered the end of the night and felt good the next morning and, you know, got to talk to all my friends. So it wasn’t easy, but it was good.



Yeah, and, and you bring up a really important point there too, that so many of us equate celebrating with drinking, because that’s what we see it in the media, we might have grown up with it. Some families really have it, like, baked into the fabric of special occasions. And maybe for some people it is. But if you’re in recovery, or you’re trying, you’re shooting for sobriety, it’s actually not anymore, but we can’t necessarily expect that because then right? If you’re if you’re drinking, celebrating, it’s kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. Right? It’s the opposite of celebrating in many ways. But until you condition yourself in a different direction, like Yeah, of course, that’s where your mind is going to go, it’s going to be like, Oh, I feel a certain way, whether or not it’s happy or sad or anxious, then then I drink.


And so, if this is the first time you’re going to the party, or you’re feeling a certain way, and then you’re not doing it, when you’ve had all of these hundreds, perhaps or even 1000s, depending on the situation of repetitions being like, this is what you do. This is what you do. And this is what you do. Yeah, yeah. It’s understandable. That might be that might be tough. That might be tough from job.


Casey McGuire Davidson  28:44

Yeah, absolutely. One of the reasons I wanted to bring you on as well is you’ve written quite a bit about the signs of anxiety. And I’d love you to go through them. What I was surprised at, even though I’ve experienced it, is how physical, a lot of them are like, it manifests in your body. It’s not just mental.



Yeah. So, anxiety is it’s a really interesting mental health arena, because it’s something that feels incredibly intense when you’re in it. And incredibly real. And you do feel it in your body. And that’s because of what its purpose is and where it comes from. But ultimately, it’s all also just an appraisal seeing danger. So let me back up for a second. So yeah, basically what anxiety and fear is about is it’s your body’s way of trying to keep you safe. It is now the if you take it to a 10 It’s the fight or flight response, the fear response where you’re either you see danger, like imagine you’re like your key people and we’re like out there and you see a saber toothed Tiger, or maybe the those didn’t, didn’t exist at the same time but let’s say they do like In this age, and you see that that saber toothed Tiger, well, you’ve got to be able to either fight it off, you know, your body has to your heart has to speed up, you’ve got to have all that, that blood rushing to your heart, your muscles and tensed, so that you can fight it off or to run away to keep yourself safe. And that that’s a very natural response to a danger.


And the thing about our bodies, that are in our brains, is that we have that same I’m in physical danger response, regardless of whether or not what we’re afraid of, is actually a physical danger. Or if it’s a threat to our ego, or our bank account, or a family system, or our health or any number of different things and health in that in the like immediate death. But maybe losing your sobriety can cause a lot of anxiety. And so, we react to all of it, though, with the same sort of physiological tension and feeling these, that’s all our brain knows how to do. But it all comes back to this question of, do you perceive danger? Do you think something bad’s going to happen, because that’s what anxiety is about, it’s you looking into the future and saying, oh, like, I think I’m going to be in danger. So, I’m going to be kind of like on guard, I’m going to watch out for that danger. I’m going to narrow my scope of attention so that it doesn’t sneak up on me like that, like that tiger. It’s all based on this idea of your brain trying to keep you safe. The problem is, a lot of times, that process, although maybe would work great. 1000s of years ago, does not work so well for us now in modern life. And when we’re trying to navigate social situations, or work situations or the holidays, it actually causes more harm than good.


Casey McGuire Davidson  31:38

And one of the, I mean, I remember, I think this was more of a panic attack. But, you know, there was a point. And it was also when I was drinking, which I think exacerbates that to the nth degree. But I remember just laying up in my bed in the dark at like, 7pm. And I felt like I was tingling, like all over, I was tingling. And my husband’s like, What is wrong with? I took it is what’s wrong with you? You know, he was like, trying to solve all my issues. Like, why didn’t you say this? Why don’t you do that? And I was like, I’m just trying to like, literally last through this moment, you know? What do you suggest in those situations? Like if it gets to that extent?



Yeah, well, so the first thing I’ll say is that there’s no necessarily quick fix for panic attacks, particularly ones that just come out of the blue. Like, there’s some folks where it’s not even prompted by something that you think is really scary, like, social situation, or public. Speaking of flying on planes, or spiders, or bugs, if you listen to the podcast and raise my hand for spiders, those are, those are pretty rough for me. But it but it just happens, it just happens. And it comes and it feels awful. And it just comes in waves. So, there’s no quick fix, but there definitely are very viable fixes. And it usually involves a couple different ingredients.


The first is to recognize what you’re actually going through. A lot of times when people have panic attacks, they think either they’re actually in danger, like I’m going to have a heart attack, or I’m going to stroke out, or I’m going to like actually, like lose touch with reality, and have a psychotic break. And those things will not happen with a panic attack. It’s not going to happen to 99.99999999% of cases. It’s just your body trying to make you be able to fight off the tire the tiger or to run away. And so, knowing what you’re going through, is really important, being able to keep that perspective.


The second part, that’s very helpful, is to recognize what it’s trying to do, but then teach your brain something different. I’m going to bridge over here for a second to the more prompted panic attacks where you’re just really stressed out or there’s something that you’re afraid of what’s happening is that your brain is basically saying, I’m going to send you these signals to run away and to avoid this situation. Because by avoiding the situation, what you’re afraid of is not going to happen, I’m going to save you from dying in a fireball in this plant, I’m going to save you from being mortified at dinner with your family, I’m going to save you from embarrassing yourself in front of everybody at work, you know, and so you’re going to pass this presentation off to your colleague, you know, whatever it is, it’s what’s called a safety behavior. Your brain says you’re going to do this other thing. And look, the bad thing doesn’t happen to you. The problem with that logic, though, is that it might have been okay anyway.


Maybe you can go to the party. Maybe you can sleep in the dark without a nightlight. Maybe you can drive. You know even if one at one point say you hit a deer on the road and it was really, really rough, and traumatic. These are things that you can do. But you have to actually teach your brain through the process that we can go into, but you basically have The teachers off, this is actually okay, by not avoiding by not doing the safety behavior. And by recognizing that even though those symptoms of panic feel super intense, they feel super present and tangible and dangerous, recognizing, I like to call it really bad heartburn, where it feels awful. But it means nothing really, in the grand scheme of things. And if you treat it that way, what eventually happens is it gets better anxiety as a whole is like those finger traps, you know, where you’ve got like one finger on each side. And the more you try to pull out, the tighter it squeezes, yeah, that’s how anxiety works, the more you’re like, I can’t feel this way, I can’t feel this way this can’t be happening, then the more it will, but almost paradoxically, if you lean into it, you say, okay, my heart is racing. I, my limbs are tingling, I have this intense urge to not leave my better my room and to stay in the fetal position. If you can get that and say, and I know why this is happening, the way that eventually it doesn’t, as I show myself that I will not take my speech, I will not embarrass myself at work. I will not crash my car. I will not die on this airplane. You know what, whatever. The more irrational fear is that, you know, because I’m feeling panic, I can’t blink, you have to use real world evidence to push back against that. Now stop talking because I’ve been going on for like, 10.


Casey McGuire Davidson  36:24

No, no, no, that’s super, super interesting. And, you know, obviously, that’s the more extreme case of anxiety, but it is something that I’ve experienced. So, I just wanted to if anyone else is feeling that I know how bad it is and how physical it can feel. On the, you know, more generalized, oh my God, I don’t know how to go to this party and not be socially awkward and talk to people or my God going to this dinner with my extended family is going to be really hard or just overwhelmed. I don’t know how I’m going to get all of this done. Does breathing really help? Or is there more thing? I mean, you know, you think it through you rationalize it, you look at, you know, how true your thoughts are like, what are what are the steps someone should go to?



Well, that’s it’s funny, you mentioned breathing, because it is actually far and away one of the best tools that most of us have. I know some folks, some listeners, you might struggle to breathe. And if that’s the case, then there are other ways to get there. But if you can breathe, particularly without pain, this is a really handy tool. And the reason for that is as strange as it sounds like how does breathing help, we will talk about it, there’s a way to breathe, that helps, and there’s a way to breathe, it doesn’t. But when you breathe through your diaphragm you do true deep breathing is actually the only way we know to turn on what’s called your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of your body, it’s the part of your nervous system that calms you down. There’s lots of ways to fire up your sympathetic nervous system, that’s the part of your nervous system that gets you all amped up, it gets you all worked up, you could think about something stressful. For example, well, you can just with your mind, get yourself riled up. But to calm down, this type of breathing is how you do it. And so, the way you breathe through your diaphragm, is you ideally you want to be sitting in a chair or laying down either one works, but in a position where you don’t have to hold tension in your core or on your back.


So, a lot of times when I do this with my patients will be leaning back into a chair, sometimes they’ll opt to lie down, but you breathe in through your nose. And you can almost imagine inflating a balloon behind your belly button. Usually, when I teach folks to do this the first time, I’ll have them put their hand on their belly button, so that they can really feel that go up. And you won’t feel much movement in your chest and shoulders or see it either. A lot of times when people breathe, quote, unquote, deeply there, it’s all it’s almost like hyperventilating, like, you know, it’s very elevated in where it’s where it’s sitting, that does nothing for you, if anything that will actually make you more tense. But if you can get a go all to go all the way down into your belly, take that deep breath, maybe just hold it for just a second, and then let it out slowly through your mouth, and really track that feeling of a release. Because that’s what the breathing does, it creates this gentle sense of tension. And then you can really lean into this release of breath, and to sink into that. And just doing that alone for about five minutes. Honest to goodness can make you feel better. If you layer on some extra levels though, like say, timed breathing, like say box breathing where you breathe in into your diaphragm for a count of four, you hold it for a count of four. You let it out over a count of four and then you wait for a count of four. And then you repeat that for, say, four or five minutes, that also can help.


Or if you breathe that way, while you’re doing mindful meditation, that’s like hitting all the different calming elements that really can help. Now it may not short circuit, say a full on panic attack, like some, like, alcohol might. That might have been why some people might have been doing it because it just numbs you out. Breathing doesn’t work that way. What it does do though, is it will bring your anxiety down, most of the time, I’m going to say like, 90 95% of the time, it will help, maybe not all the way, but it will help and show you how to de-escalate. But then it also gets better with practice. And that’s another one of the biggest differences between drinking, and sustainable healthy coping skills is that they take time to build up in effectiveness, and you have to stick with it.


So, for the same reason that we’ve been talking today about all these situations that cue you to want to drink, you’ve conditioned yourself to be like, Oh, I’m sad, I drink, oh, I’m happy I’m celebrating is New Year’s I drink. You can do the same thing with breathing. If you practice it at times when you’re not already super anxious, because then what starts to happen as you teach your body. When I breathe into my diaphragm, I chill out. And even if it normally takes you like say four or five minutes to get there, when you practice it enough, from the very first couple of breaths, your brain is going to be like, Oh, I know what this means. When I do this, I feel better. But there’s no shortcuts to this, you have to repeat it. And that’s part of why practicing or meditating daily keeping that up for a couple of months. The benefits actually increase over time, which is the opposite of alcohol where the benefits decrease over time.


Casey McGuire Davidson  41:46

Hmm, yeah, I love that you know who I do box breathing often, that’s usually what I do. And I feel really anxious or my mind’s racing. And my daughter actually taught it to me when she was eight years old, like she grabbed her, you know, my phone and went to YouTube and was like, Mom, you should do that. So, we did it together, it just blows my mind.



Yeah, well, in the best part about it too. And listeners, if you haven’t tried this, I wholeheartedly recommend it, you can go on YouTube and type it in, and you’ll find some guided ones. I have a think instructional, quote unquote, “video” on my channel as well. It’s more of just like an audio recording. But it can make a profound difference in a very short amount of time. And it’s part of why I like to use this technique with folks who have maybe it’s your first time in therapy, you haven’t done this sort of work before. Because it immediately, it just tends to help pretty quickly if you are truly breathing into your diaphragm, because it’s like a biological mechanism, where for most people, most of the time, it’s not 100% most people most of the time, you’re going to feel better if you do it. And so, there are so few of these types of interventions, where you can get that really quick experience like this, the quick wins are like, Oh, wow, I just did that for like five or 10 minutes and actually feel a little bit better.


Like, when we’re talking about these patterns that you get in, you know, you fall into in childhood and carry into adulthood, like, that’s going to take some work and therapy and even when you come to the epiphany of like, Oh, I’m the fixer, oh, I’m super sensitive to everybody’s emotions, because that’s how I kept myself from getting yelled at as a kid. Like, okay, that’s still then take some time to, to do something with and to actually benefit you. Like awareness is the first step. But with breathing with meditation, you can actually get some benefits pretty early on, which is pretty nice.


Casey McGuire Davidson  43:37

With meditation, I am not a big meditator, what’s your favorite strategy to suggest for a beginner.



So, I’m a huge fan of mobile apps for this. Because guided meditations help a tremendous amount, the app that I recommend, disclosure, I am not being paid by them is 10% happier than here is 10% happier, they teach it the right way. science based really good. Probably my second place would be headspace. They also do a lot of good science based meditation in there and they’ve got a lot of resources there for kids. But what’s helpful about guided meditations is that you will have a voice to help bring you back to your anchor point. So, when you meditate, very common misconception about meditating is that you’re supposed to clear your mind. You can’t do that. That’s how the brain works. You will get distracted meditation and part of why it’s so useful for working with anxiety is about watching your mind and seeing that your brain and your thoughts and your feelings are not you are a consciousness that sees this happening. They can see it happening and can also get wrapped up in it. But that is not you. You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. And so, when you meditate, what you do is you focus on an anchor point like the feeling of Breathing into your diaphragm, which feels awesome and super relaxing most of the time. But it’s also actually pretty boring. And so, what happens when you meditate? And let’s be honest, right? It’s breathing. And so, your brain jumps without your consent. And so, what happens then is when you notice, like, oh, man, like I’m thinking about work, I’m thinking about the holidays and thinking about drinking, and thinking about family. You know, it’s like, waking up, it’s like seeing, Oh, man, my brain just carried me away to anxiety to work to restlessness, that judging whatever it is. And then you kind of mentally put it down, you can’t like, get rid of it. That’s not how thoughts work. But you can kind of like, place it. I like to imagine there being like, the thought is a little box that I put in my lap or down by my feet, and then come back to that really relaxing feeling of breathing. And then you get distracted again. And then you come back again. And then you get distracted again. And you can think of meditating almost as like being a gym, going to the gym for your brain. You’re training, the skill of mindfulness.


When you do mindfulness meditation, mindfulness is being able to be aware of the present moment to see it happening, rather than be carried away by it. And so, when you when you flex that, when you strengthen that, which does take some time and work, you start to notice sooner when you’re getting carried away by a thought, or a narrative story, you’re telling yourself a feeling. And then when you can see that, that empowers you to go a different way. So that was a very long explanation for recommendations I’ve given, you know, I guess, yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  46:35

I think it’s very helpful. And I also think, like going into your first holiday, or any stressful situation, sort of practicing that in advance would really help. What do you see, you know, in your work as the most common family stress that people experience around the holidays? Well,



I’d say it’s, it’s one of a couple options. One is just if there’s some like family beef, right, if you’re not getting along with another member of the family, or someone’s partner, or something like that having to be in the same space as them can be very tense, or not wanting to go and be in that same space but feeling pressured to do so. I’d say, that’s probably one of the most common. The other, I’m hearing more and more recently, is political differences. Like we’ve gotten so polarized as a country that families have been, I don’t want to be overdramatic about it. But it can make very stressful if you have very different political views because of how we tend to demonize people who have different political views than us. You know, as a country, right now, there’s a lot of that going around. Or, or if something happens in a moment. And again, you feel like you can’t keep yourself emotionally safe. I think those would probably be the most common that I hear. And your suggestions on dealing with that. I mean, I know we’ve talked about it a little bit in advance, but yeah.



Yeah, well, so ultimately, ultimately, what it comes down to is feeling. If you come into a situation feeling prepared, and empowered, your stress will be vastly reduced.


So, when we talk, so we started off today, talking about how preparation is the most important part. So, what preparation looks like is one, lowering your baseline level of stress, if you already know you tend to run hot. So that means if you haven’t, say tried diaphragmatic breathing, if you haven’t tried mindfulness meditation, maybe give it a go. I don’t know exactly when this podcast is going to air. But assuming we have at least a little bit of time before a holiday hits, you’ve got a little bit of a lean in. And so, a lead in rather, and that means that you have some time to hopefully just lower that baseline level of stress so that when you get hit with a new stressor that doesn’t push you over the top, and you know, when you start to fall apart a little bit. So that would be one part of planning.

The other is, to know in advance, you don’t want to. You don’t want to cast too far, you don’t want to predict bad things happening, you know, that comes with some risks, different risks, your mental health, but if you can just be realistic about it and say, Okay, so this has happened a lot, just the personality of this person, or this is the family dynamic that I’ve been in, or this is this person’s political views that they’re probably going to spout off. How do I want to handle it in a way that I respect myself and be respectful of them? He’s ultimately, that dynamic where two people, even if they have differences of opinions, or values or beliefs can be respectful of each other and their boundaries. That’s like the Holy Grail. That’s where you want to get to. And so, being able to say in advance, think, okay, so if I’m in an environment this holiday season, that I don’t feel like my boundaries are being respected, or I am being disrespected. How do I want to handle that in a way that I feel good about later? Here, I feel like I’ve been true to myself and my values. And we’re I don’t have to debate whether or not it’s the right thing to do. And so, there’s so many different permutations that where tensions can arise, right? Like, we can’t predict everything. But if you have a process where you know where your boundaries are, you know how you’re going to respectfully hold them.


And, you know, have distance if you need to have distance or ask assertively but not aggressively for something, if you know, you need to need to do that, then hopefully, when you enter into that situation, if you choose to do so you can feel a little bit more settled. And then when you’re there, if something goes sideways, you can flick some of those skills, whether or not it’s putting on the empathy or curiosity cap, and instead of thinking like, like, Man, why is Uncle Fred such an asshole? Instead, you’re thinking, Hmm, you know, this is a problem that he has, do I want to tolerate it? Do I want to take some space? Do I want to correct him publicly in front of everybody else? I mean, all the options are on the table. Or you could even say, you know, like, I’m going to try this. And no matter what, I’m not going to make a scene. But if this is as bad as I think it might be, you know, maybe this is the last time I’m going to do this until this changes, because it really puts me on the spot.


Yeah, and I don’t want to, you know, I’m going to give. I’m going to give permission to do this one more time and give it a chance. But maybe not again, after that, well, whatever the mindset is, is knowing in advance what feels in line with the person, you want to be the daughter, you want to be the, you know, the partner you want to be, whatever the role is, just try to honor that. And then afterwards, look back on it and say, Did this feel right? Or, as I said, Before, it might not feel right. But with whatever frame, it feels like, this is my values. Did you feel like you could do it? And then if you need to do it differently next time, do it differently next time?


Casey McGuire Davidson  51:52

Yeah, yeah, I think that’s great advice. And what I would add, just from my experience, and women I’ve worked with is to expect that you will need a lot of alone time to decompress and not get overwhelmed. So, plan more of that. Plan more of that space into your life than you have before whether that means turning down a few things, shortening visits.


I always like telling people, Hey, one of my goals for this vacation is x. So, I’m going to try to do that every day, whether x is take a walk every day, or read two novels. So, I’m excited to read these in bed early at night or in the afternoon, my goal is to go to this park, I mean, pick some things that will get you away from people or at least moving outside or some alone time and just state it right off the bat. So that otherwise people have fill up every free moment you possibly have.



Yeah, and you know, what strikes me as you talk about that, like alone time being calm, again, coming to a place of rest. Feels simple, but so we so often don’t do it, you know, or like, you brushed it aside and be like, Oh, no, I don’t have to take this time to be alone, or I don’t have to take this time to meditate or to breathe, or to sleep. That would be another big one. If we’re talking about stress management, like make sure you’re getting your rest. But it’s that sort of thing where you might be blown away at the difference in the quality of your life, if you’re going from like five hours of sleep at night to seven hours of sleep a night. And you’ll see immediately how big of a difference that makes on your edginess, or your caffeine consumption, or you know, any number of different things. Lifestyle changes really can make a big difference. But like we mentioned, they sometimes take a little bit of time. But if you really stick with it, you might look back and say wow, like I really did handle that better. And it didn’t take like doing some grand, massive change to everything it just actually took caring for myself. Yeah, having boundaries.


Casey McGuire Davidson  54:11

And that’s a great thing as well to be like, hey, one of my goals on this break or this vacation or this trip is to catch up on sleep, you know, and so that way when people are drinking in the end of the evening, you’re you can leave without them wondering if you’re offending them or anything else because it’s his stated goal. The other thing I would suggest is always bring your own nonalcoholic drinks so either to a party, stock up your house or you can ship stuff like I know my favorite nonalcoholic beer and sparkling nonalcoholic Prosecco or kombucha. You can literally ship stuff through Amazon Prime to people’s houses and then have an exit plan. So, if you’re going to parties, talk with whoever you’re going with that you might want to leave early. And either they can Uber home, or they can agree to leave with you. Or you can take two cars, just knowing that sometimes all you need to do is show up a little late, make two rounds and take off, and people may or may not notice.



That’s a fair point, too, right? We, we tend to feel like, there’s a spotlight on us when in actuality like, people don’t really notice they’re focused on their own life, and you know, the time they’re having. But you also made a really important point about not doing it alone. And to have somebody there with you, either the exit strategy or just someone to hold on to someone to help level you out. We so for so many things in life, if we have a partner with us in it, it works better. And yeah, sobriety going through difficult situations to someone, they’re not even to just like, quote unquote, keep you from drinking, but just to be a support and to help remind you of who you are and what you value and that someone values you for the right reasons, perhaps, yeah, could make a tremendous difference.


Casey McGuire Davidson  56:11

Yeah, I find even just being like, Hey, I’m going to this party. And it may be hard for me. So when you helped me out, like with my husband, and early sobriety that helped a lot, even though he was drinking, even though he didn’t necessarily think that I needed to stop drinking, you know, hopefully, your partner, or your best friend, or anyone you know, who may or may not be drinking, sometimes it’s just a pregnant person who you know, who’s going to the same party being like, Alright, I’m not drinking at this party, it’s probably going to be hard for me want to hang out by the whatever thing that can help a lot.



Every person in early recovery needs that that pregnant friend, right. It’s just like a walk along the streets until you find someone who can do it. Now, I’ve joked but that’s a really good point, right? And feeling like you have if nothing else, also, you know, the thought that comes to mind that I know help so many folks, also is just being seen. And a little more harsh word is accountability. But just having someone there with you to be able to be like, yeah, like, I know what you’re shooting for. I’ll be there for you. I’ll be there with you. You don’t have to be alone. You know, I’ve got your back.


Casey McGuire Davidson  57:32

Yeah. And the other thing I wanted to mention is, even if you don’t have anyone, in person in your life, there are tons of people that are out there in Facebook groups, I have a membership with my course. But there are also a ton of free groups of people doing the same thing. And so even posting a picture of yourself all dressed up going to my okay, my first alcohol free, you know, party, holiday party, and then post midway through I mean, everybody will tell you, you look fantastic, which is awesome. And then when you finish that, you’re a badass. You can complain about your uncle, they don’t know Him. So, you can be like, This is a nightmare. My mother said, x, but just knowing people who get that this is really hard, can be wonderful.



Oh, yeah, community is everything. And it’s so wonderful to hear the vibe that you have in your course and in your community. And it’s totally true. I mean, when you not just have like one person who has your back and who’s walking through this with you. But a whole group of people, we tend to the mannerisms and habits and values and behaviors of the people that we surround ourselves with, in person but also virtually tend to rub off on us. And so if you’ve got that healthy community around you or you can be open you can share, be cheered on and cheer other people on. It means so much. Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, tell us more about your work, you, where people can follow you and find out more.


Aaron Weiner  59:08

Oh yeah. So, I’m an addiction psychologists I primarily actually speak in educate for a living I’ve got a passion for trying to get the information that we learn as clinical psychologist but also that’s always coming out in, in in journals and medical journals that no one ever really reads. But it’s really good information. I seriously I mean, it’s, it’s just the sad is the sad truth. And I’m not afraid to say it. There’s so much good work that is just wall away in academia that people are they deserve to be heard. It deserves to be read. And I like to be that translator and so I spend a lot of time speaking across the country and doing webinars talking about mental health and very much addiction a lot around teen wellness Teen Health vaping THC marijuana, those are those are big ones, as well are big concerns across the country right now. Because I think that knowledge and prevention and going a little bit further upstream, like imagine I just don’t for myself and I full disclosure, I’ve dealt with anxiety for most of my life. And let me tell you, I wish that I’d started doing breathing and meditation before the age of 30, which is when I finally figured out what actually works for me, like, man, it would have been great for, you know, 15 or 20 years prior to that, yeah, I was struggling with all these things. And so, I feel like if I can give that to people, earlier on, that she says, tremendous benefit for the world. And so, my website is Weinerphd.com.


Social media wise, I post constantly on LinkedIn, that’s, that’s where I live most of the time, because I found that people are nice there. And so, and very, in very, very chill, nice, professional. So that’s where I post most of the time.


But I also have a podcast of my own.


I have a YouTube channel where I post some analysis. And then, I also have a private practice where I see some folks clinically, but that’s, it’s smaller scale. But anyone who has a question, I always recommend, like, you can always email me, I will write you back. I have not gotten to the point where I don’t answer literally every email I received. So, if anyone ever has a question for you, please feel free to drop me a line. It’s on my website, but also just Aaron. Weinerphd.com.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:01:27

Awesome! And I will put all your links in the show notes for this episode. So, people can check out your YouTube channel and your podcasts, I think it’s really helpful to get your expertise on how to manage stress and anxiety during this time period.


So hopefully, everyone listening to this can focus on the good and really, really enjoy the holidays, but also have some tools in their back pockets for those moments that they know is going to be either a challenge not to drink, or stressful dynamics, we all have them. Even if it’s just being overwhelmed by the list of things you want to do. And the number of invitations you have, or loneliness therapy is a fantastic tool. And so is breathing and meditation and expecting what might be hard.



Yeah, and I guess this part a parting thought I just want to put out there, one, you’ve got this, you can have this. You can do it. The anxiety, anxiety, and so many other problems that we might experience in our life comes from the system, that we just our daily system, the way we deal with stress and family and work and all of that. If you change the system in healthy ways, like stopping drinking, like breathing, like meditation, like working with a therapist, like taking time to relax and to calm down, like having that that loving or supportive person next to you, like you suggested, those make a difference. And they add up and they grow in strength over time.


So, if you’ve been feeling disempowered, if you’ve been feeling like you can’t do it, just know and I say this, as a professional who helps people do this all the time, from addiction to trauma, to anxiety to depression, there are solutions. And we’ve talked about some really good ideas today to get the ball rolling. But you’ve got this, this is totally possible. It’s going to be a great holiday.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:03:29

Alright. I love that. Thank you so much. That’s the perfect place to end this. So, thank you for coming on and sharing your expertise.



And my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.



Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 



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