Making the decision to quit drinking for the month of January is probably one of the easiest times to put down the bottle. The party season is over, it’s a fresh, new year and nobody thinks anything of it if you don’t socialise for the month.
But what if you want to curb your consumption over the summer, when BBQs and sunny beer gardens beckon? Or if your New Year’s resolution is to give up alcohol for the year or for life?
A big concern for people choosing to go dry is that they won’t be fun in social situations, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
Annie Grace, author of ‘This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol’ who shares her own candid journey to sobriety in her book, says changing your mindset is key when it comes to how to give up alcohol and still be social.
“Before you ever drank a drop you did not need alcohol to enjoy yourself socially, yet as you grew older you observed everyone around you drinking in social situations,” she says.
Annie explains that you can get caught in a vicious cycle where since you believe alcohol helps you have fun, it does, and when you don’t have a drink you feel deprived.
If you do want to learn how to give up drinking and still be social she encourages you to look at the people who are tee total and hangover free!
“It’s not the alcohol which makes social occasions amazing,” she points out. “Think about a school dance, there was no alcohol, yet it was fun and exciting. You scoped out girls or guys, enjoyed looking at everyone’s outfits and spent social time with friends.”
She uses Hindu weddings as an reference too, showcasing how they have days of feasting, dancing and laughing and yet most Hindus don’t even drink.
“If everyone was drinking the party couldn’t go on for days on end. The second day would be full of hangovers and headaches.”
Annie knows from personal experience that it can initially feel uncomfortable to sit with a group of friends who are knocking back drinks at the bar while you opt for a nonalcoholic beer, and so she encourages you to socialise in other ways too.
Take up a sport, find a new hobby, experience new things and meet new people because socialising doesn’t have to just happen at a pub or at a drunken dinner party.
Annie also addresses the fact that people often drink to get over initial shyness and to “encourage a party atmosphere”. Instead of trying to drown that out, embrace it.
“Even as kids everyone is unsure of how they fit in,” she underlines. “Give it a few minutes and they are off and running, having a great time.
“It’s a good thing to be cautious at first. It helps you understand your surroundings and take the time to get to know the people you are with. Our initial shyness not only protects us but also ensures we don’t do or say something we will regret.”
Annie also reminds us that the craving, even if you’ve just had a drink fueled Christmas doesn’t go away immediately, but says: “Once your unconscious desire to drink is gone, you won’t be pining after a drink. You won’t feel like you are giving something up. The bar will be a reminder of the freedom you have gained, not of what you feel you have lost.”
If you enjoyed this article and want to know more about cutting down on alcohol then you you might like find out why Dry January could be good for your heart health and read these expert tips on banishing alcohol.