As the world opens up and the atmosphere is feeling more celebratory, you may find yourself struggling to refuse drinks during reunions with families, friends and colleagues. Hello Sunday Morning gets how hard it is to stay the course when everyone around you seems to be raising their glasses to new-found freedoms.
As reported, Australian media darling and broadcaster Chrissie Swan turned away from drinking and towards walking during Victoria’s lockdowns. She’s enjoyed the health and lifestyle benefits, sharing after a recent alcohol-free Karaoke night, “I can’t quite believe it but it IS POSSIBLE. Fresh as a daisy this morning and I still have my voice!’”
Chrissie focussed on what worked for her to achieve her health goals. But we know that as socialising gets into full swing, maintaining a choice to not drink isn’t always straightforward. Our Hello Sunday Morning Health Coaches remind us that “Making a change is hard. Changing our relationship with alcohol is a big step and it comes with its share of challenges.”
Especially at a time when everyone wants to celebrate.
We know from research that “the highest likelihood of consuming alcohol is around social occasions such as at a party or relaxing with friends”
As we come out of lockdowns, and towards border re-openings and greater access to friends, we’re more likely to find ourselves in situations where we’re encouraged to consume alcohol. Sharing the news that you’re choosing not to drink can sometimes feel daunting too.
Hello Sunday Morning’s social media posts have touched on the anxieties some of us feel in maintaining change while emerging from restrictions. Our Care Navigators (who offer additional and personalised support for our members through the Daybreak app) share that the secret to staying the course is having a strategy to keep you focussed.
Whether you’re taking a break from alcohol altogether, or cutting back, try these 6 tips to keep you on track:
1. Practice your new social script
Having an idea of what you’ll say in advance really can take the pressure off, and help you stand your ground if someone’s insistent on pressing a drink into your hands. Be firm, thank them for the offer and try these lines to encourage them to respect your refusal:
“I don’t drink anymore”
“I’m not drinking this year”
“I’m focusing on my health at the moment”
“I have to drive home, but please don’t let that stop you.”
2. Include others
There’s strength in inclusivity. You may feel alone in your situation, but you might meet others who also taking steps away from socialising with alcohol. If you notice someone else abstaining from drinking, keeping them company could lead to stronger support strategies and create new bonds. This could help you stay alcohol-free as you’re building the habit to abstain .
3. Social roles and jobs
If refusing a drink feels all too hard, but you crave the company, why not appoint yourself a social role at each event? You could become the chief caterer, kid wrangler, games host, or even the person documenting the fun. Hello Sunday Morning community member Sally gets behind her camera to get way from temptation.
“I make myself the ‘official’ photographer for the night. Moving around the room, getting pics of people and sending them to them is a great way of opening conversations and keeping a record for the host and attendees. It also opens up conversations with people I haven’t met before, keeps me busy and connected before I slip out the door completely unnoticed and put my feet up having enjoyed a sober night out.”
4. Set a new social time
You might remember George’s story. He altered his interactions with mates to stay on the sober curious wagon. “My daily routine became one revolving around the gym, study and seeing mates for breakfast or lunch instead of going to the pub.”
Changing the way he interacted with others helped avoid tricky circumstances and awkward conversations while George was finding his feet. That may work for you too.
5. Goal accountability
You could give yourself a self-talk session in the mirror to remind yourself why you’d invested in making the change. Or, you may need to lean on the support of others to help you stay on task, and remind you of the benefits
Kim re-evaluated her drinking in order to address her digestive health. She turned to the Hello Sunday Morning community to help her check in each day. “I know this festive season might be a challenge with celebrations, but I’m grateful for this community of people to help me through,” Kim shared.
Your own goals may centre around being more mindful for family, revisiting health benefits, or feeling more productive with your days. Asking yourself why you made the alcohol-free change, or asking others to help keep you accountable, can make all the difference in reaching your goals.
6. Forgive yourself
Even if you do accept a drink, or drink one too many, forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for having a drink; others who choose to make change also struggle at times. Feeling guilty will only give you more stress, making you more inclined to drink again! You’re not weak, you’re just learning to adapt. Don’t lose sight of your initial commitment to drink less, or not at all.
If you feel you need company while moderating drinking, check in with the Daybreak community.
Our Daybreak app is made up of a community of people who want to change their drinking habits, one day at a time. Its anonymous and supportive environment helps you check in with others, with Care Navigators to stay focussed on your goals, during festive times, and beyond.