As Christmas is fast approaching, some of us who are attempting an alcohol-free life are bracing ourselves for the temptations and urges presented along with this jolly season. Although temptations and urges occur throughout the year, we know that at this time it can be particularly testing.
But with careful planning, we can get through this season without a drop of alcohol and finish the year strong!
Managing urges to drink involves some self-reflection on our part as well as some personal strategies to overcome them. There is no one solution that fits all, but we have pulled together some suggestions that might give your tool box a boost.
1. What sets you off?
It might help to spend time to reflect and write down when urges are strongest. Try to remember the times when alcohol was a part of your Christmas and New Year celebrations. Consider what led you to drink. Was it a celebration of hard work done for the year? Was there a particularly persuading drinking buddy? Did you feel pressure from a family member? Or was it the general party vibe that encouraged your drinking?
2. Plan strategies and rewards
Once you identify your urges and triggers, work out a plan and strategy to counteract these.
If the urge is to reward yourself with drinks for making it through a tough year, consider buying yourself a gift or booking a holiday with the money saved from not buying drinks.
As one of our HSM staff recalled her own experience of the Fear of Missing Out (on alcohol), her strategy was to reassure herself that the only thing she would be missing out on is a hangover – which is a good thing to miss out on! She then treated herself on her hangover-free morning with a special brunch and a posy of fresh flowers.
3. Reasons for not drinking
Not all gatherings can be avoided and there are some situations which we just need to face head on – such as family gatherings. And this is where thinking about the reasons why you don’t drink could be your secret weapon. The key is to focus on your own purpose, goal and your own sobriety journey.
Think of the reason why you decided to stop drinking. Remind yourself and write it down on a piece of card or save it on your phone. When presented with challenges and thoughts, take a moment to pause and remind yourself of those reasons again. You’ve got this!
Tips and strategies
1. Be selective about location and event
If it is a work Christmas party at about your intention to not drink. Find out who will be attending and stick with those who don’t drink. But if you really think turning up would be too much of a burden, skip the party completely.
2. Practise your line
Although we don’t have to give excuses for not drinking, sometimes we can stumble over words when we are caught off guard. Practising your line may help you answer sounding confident and spontaneous – and it will get easier over time. As frustrating as it may feel, others are on a different journey and not everyone is ready to accept your decision just yet.
3. Plan ahead
Bring your own AF drink, notify the host ahead of time and have an activity planned ready for the next morning. Steven from the HSM community, organised a bike ride with some local dads early the next morning. Being the organiser meant Steven needed to be up early and felt confident telling others.
Some of our Daybreak community members also suggested ringing the venue ahead of time and confirming they have AF drink options.
4. Focusing on the purpose of the gathering
If you find yourself invited to an event where alcohol is the main focus, then best to just not attend. If you do go along, focus on the conversations, try to appreciate the company and the surroundings.
5. Post on Daybreak app
There is no secret that support from others is immensely helpful. If you have our Daybreak app, why not reach out and post to let them know of your concerns . Our community is anonymous and incredibly supportive. If you don’t have the Daybreak app, reach out to your sober friend. Let them know how to help you stick with your goal.
But not all temptations are outside the home
Alcohol dependency is a complex topic and drinking with mates is not always the only challenge some of us are facing. Often Christmas can be a difficult time of the year, and drinking helps numb sadness and pain to help cope, even if it is just to get through the day. This includes drinking alone at home. Beyond removing alcohol at home and staying with someone who can keep us from drinking, remember that you don’t have to do this alone and there is help from professionals if you need it.
Below are some of the list that could be handy to have on your phone:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Suicide call back service 1300 659 467
National alcohol & other drugs hotlines 1800 250 015
Alcohol drug information services ADIS Web Chat
Whatever the stage of your relationship with alcohol is, we hope you have a safe Christmas and a great New Year! Remember to look after yourself!