I used to love BBQs when I was drinking; they were the perfect excuse to day drink without feeling like an alcoholic.
The warm weather used to make me crave beer and the idea of watching the sun go down, stone cold sober, seemed unimaginable.
When I stopped drinking, I was surprised to discover that summer parties and BBQs were still fun.
I began to realise that what really mattered was the mood I was in, the people at the party, the food, the atmosphere, the music. Basically, 101 tiny things that I’d never stopped to consider before.
Nowadays, knocking back a beer at a BBQ is as appealing as sipping rat poison; I’d much rather have ice cold fizzy water, a mocktail or a glass of fresh juice. But I can still remember how challenging these events can be in early sobriety.
If you’re about to tackle your first ever sober party, boozy BBQ or wedding this summer, this blog is for you. Here are 10 tips for staying alcohol free (and having a great time!)
1. Decide you’re not going to drink
I know this seems like an obvious one but seriously – do NOT wait until you get there to decide what you’re going to do. A ‘maybe’ or a ‘wait and see’ is nearly always a yes. There’s a lot of freedom in making a firm decision and knowing that you’re going to stick to it, no matter what.
Remember, you can’t figure sobriety out without overcoming a few challenges. Rather than seeing these events as things that are ‘impossible’ to do without drinking, reframe them as a challenge that you will rise up to and overcome.
2. Be positive
A lot of this is about perception – thinking something is true often makes it so. If you decide that it’s going to be an awkward event and you’ll hate it, then guess what? You probably will feel like that!
Stay positive and remember that alcohol is not the secret to having a good time. (If that were true then you should have an amazing time at every single boozy party. But haven’t we all been to events that were boring, no matter how much we drank?)
3. Have something to eat and drink before you go
Feeling hungry or thirsty will exacerbate any cravings you have, and you’ll be more likely to feel tired, grumpy and lethargic. Make life easy on yourself and have something to eat and drink beforehand.
4. Take a drink you love with you
The great thing about BBQs is that you can bring whatever you like with you. Now is not the time to pretend you’re happy drinking lukewarm water or flat diet coke – find something you genuinely love to drink! Being sober does not mean ‘making do’ with boring drinks.
5. Decide what you’re going to bring the host
Are you comfortable taking them a bottle of wine that you’re not going to drink? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. You could always volunteer to bring some food or non-alcoholic drinks. (A pitcher of something alcohol-free is often very welcome and disappears surprisingly quickly.)
6. Get a drink as soon as you arrive
Keeping a drink in your hand makes it harder for other people to offer you alcoholic drinks, plus it gives you something to do with your hands. Fizzy water and a slice of lemon in a wine glass could easily pass for an alcoholic drink if you don’t want to attract attention.
7. Prepare a response
You’ll be amazed how many people won’t notice that you’re not drinking. Some people just don’t care about this stuff and others are far too wrapped up in themselves. But it’s worth thinking about what you’ll say if someone is being nosy. I made a few suggestions here.
8. Watch the kids
If you catch yourself slipping into a negative state, look at what the kids are doing. The chances are they’re playing games, having a good time and mixing with other children they’ve never met before. They don’t need alcohol in order to have a good time. You were that kid once!
9. Make sure you can leave when you want
Respect your own time and head home when you’re ready. Don’t stay until the bitter end because you feel you have to (or because that’s what you would’ve done when drinking). If you’re tired or you’ve had enough, just go – people won’t care as much as you think. If they’re drunk, they might not even notice! So plan your escape route in advance.
10. Celebrate afterwards
Woo hoo – you did it! You made it through a challenging situation. Take some time out to really acknowledge that, reflect on how things went and congratulate yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. Plan some lovely sober treats for you to enjoy when you get home or the next day.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What are your tips for staying sober at boozy BBQs, weddings and summer parties? What have been your experiences so far? Let me know below 🙂
This week I’m on holiday enjoying some sun and a chance to relax.
It’s at times like this that I feel particularly grateful not to be battling a hangover, or letting alcohol dull any memories.
I know that if you’re newly sober – or thinking about cutting out booze – the idea of an alcohol free holiday can feel intimidating.
Perhaps you know you need to take a break from drinking, but you’re thinking about putting it off until you get back from your next trip.
I get it.
But speaking as someone who’s been on plenty of booze fuelled breaks – and lots of lovely sober ones – I’d strongly recommend you treat yourself to a holiday without drink!
Honestly, you won’t regret it. Alcohol-free holidays are the BEST. Here’s why:
You’ll come home feeling properly rested
One of the main reasons for going on holiday is to relax and recharge. When you’re drinking, you’re unlikely to come home genuinely refreshed. Instead, you might feel as if you need another break to get over the last one!
We live in a world where alcohol is often mistakenly linked to relaxation. The truth is that a) alcohol doesn’t genuinely relax you – I wrote about that here – and b) holidays are relaxing in their own right. Reading on a sun lounger is relaxing.
You’ll make the most of your holiday
Hangovers are horrible at the best of times. When you’ve travelled abroad, paid to stay somewhere nice and used up your precious annual leave to do so, it’s a shame to waste that time feeling rubbish. You did not travel thousands of miles across the world in order to spend your trip nursing a headache.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself
After I stopped drinking, I realised that I needed to do more on holiday than sunbathe and eat. Don’t get me wrong – I still love doing those things, but 24/7 sunbathing makes me feel a bit restless.
So, since I quit drinking I’ve done a lot more sightseeing on holiday than I used to. I’ve also been on a cycling tour of Croatia, done yoga in Kenya, and right now I’m staying at a resort with some weird and wonderful fitness classes. (I’ve posted pics of this on Instagram)
You’ll be making a key mindset shift
Please don’t fall for the myth that sobriety means missing out or living a life of less. Sobriety is not like being on a diet; it’s not something you can only stick to when you’re at home, living like a hermit. If you’re doing it right, alcohol-free living shouldn’t feel like that.
When you get your head around the idea of a booze-free holiday, you’ll be making a really important mental leap that will set you up for lots of good things in future.
An alcohol-free holiday will be the cheapest upgrade ever!
Ditching booze is a huge upgrade because you’ll come away from your trip with crystal clear, hangover-free memories. You’ll be fully present and living in the moment – and you’ll open yourself up to new, high quality experiences.
One of my students went on holiday recently and used the money she would’ve spent on booze to pay for spa treatments instead. How cool is that? I know someone else who used her first sober holiday to try scuba diving – something she’d always wondered about. She came home with her PADI open water qualification done and dusted.
It’s got to make you wonder… what could happen to you on your first sober holiday?
I was flicking through some magazines earlier and couldn’t help but notice all the diet tips and fitness plans.
At this time of year there always seems to be a big demand for advice on how to slim down and tone up.
As I was reading through the countless ‘diet hacks’, I was surprised to find that alcohol rarely got a mention.
There were all kinds of tips about upping your protein intake, lifting heavier weights and cutting out sugary fizzy drinks… but quitting drinking? I didn’t see that suggested anywhere, even though alcohol is a diet disaster! It’s full of empty calories.
So I wanted to put things right.
If you need a bit of motivation to stick to your alcohol-free goals this week, let’s talk all about the beach body benefits of a booze-free lifestyle…
1. You’ll save thousands of calories, making it easier to lose weight
I strongly believe there should be clearer calorie labelling on bottles of wine. I haven’t met many people who truly understand alcohol units, but calories? Most of us get that.
A glass of wine contains around 200 calories. A whole bottle is 600 calories – that’s the equivalent of scoffing three donuts or a McDonald’s Big Mac. It’s no wonder the average wine drinker puts on half a stone a year due to the excess calories.
2. You’ll be more likely to eat healthy food (and stick to your diet!)
When I was feeling hungover, my motivation went out the window. I snacked on pastries, chocolate, crisps and caffeine. Eating salad was rarely on the agenda!
I’m not going to pretend that sobriety has turned me into some kind of saint – I’ve always had a sweet tooth and still do. But in sobriety, I can get away with my chocolate habit because the rest of my diet is now pretty good.
I don’t skip breakfast anymore, I eat a healthy lunch, I drink plenty of water and I cook a proper dinner in the evening. When you’re being fairly healthy, most of the time, it makes a big difference to your waistline.
3. When you do go to the gym, you’ll make it count
As a drinker, I’d sometimes drag myself to the gym despite my hangover. (I was convinced I could sweat the alcohol out.) But all that effort was rarely worth it, because booze is a terrible workout buddy.
Alcohol can dehydrate your body for up to a week. Not only does this make you feel like crap, it also means you’re more prone to musculoskeletal injuries such as cramps, muscle pulls and strains.
Drinking also lowers your rate of protein synthesis, which is needed for building and repairing muscles. So basically, if you want to get results from your workout, alcohol is never going to be your friend.
4. You can wave goodbye to bloating and puffiness
There’s a reason why celebrities like Jennifer Lopez don’t drink – it’s because they don’t want alcohol to ruin their looks. Booze makes your face puffy, bloated and more prone to redness.
If you’re thinking about quitting drinking, take a selfie first. I get all the women I work with to do this and I love seeing the results (you’ll be amazed at the difference). Alcohol is so sneaky – the chances are it’s affecting your appearance more than you think.
5. You’ll get your beauty sleep
Alcohol screws up your sleep cycle, which is why you often wake up at 4am, tired but somehow wide awake.
Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect the bags under your eyes. There’s also a clear link between sleep and obesity. Let’s face it: when you’re tired, you’re more likely to snack and skip the gym.
6. Quitting drinking will get you better results, in all areas!
Take a moment to think about all the time, money and effort you put into trying to look your best. Perhaps you invest in nice clothes, fancy face creams, gym memberships or getting your hair done.
If you care about how you look – and most of us do – why not maximise your results and get your money’s worth?
Without alcohol getting the way, that expensive moisturiser might actually make a difference. Those nice clothes will fit better. And that gym membership might just start paying off 🙂
“I just can’t be bothered to carry on with sobriety, it’s too much effort.” “One drink isn’t going to hurt.” “I was probably overreacting, I don’t really need to quit.” “People like me don’t change, so I may as well give up now.”
If you’re thinking along these lines, then I know you’re seriously considering drinking this week. Or maybe even tonight.
I used to be an expert at talking myself out of sobriety and slinking off in defeat.
So this week I’m bringing you a blog with a twist… it’s all about the, ahem, ‘benefits’ of giving up on alcohol-free living and going back to drinking. (I hope it motivates you to keep going!)
Reason #1 – Give yourself the gift of a hangover
You planned on having one glass of wine, but somehow, one turned into two and then three… and before you knew it, a whole bottle had vanished.
You wake up the next morning with a pounding headache and a mouth like the sahara desert. You didn’t clean your teeth or take your makeup off last night. You look (and feel) grim.
Best of all, it’s only 4am. You’re sooo tired, yet somehow you’re also wide awake. The day has already begun.
Reason #2 – Make a fool of yourself in public
You’re at a party and feeling nervous, so you knock back drink after drink. All of a sudden, you’re talking loudly and telling jokes that you find hilarious.
You escape to the dance floor as your favourite song comes on. Your moves quickly attract a few stares. Wow, you think. I never realised I was such a talented dancer…
Reason #3 – Get into a random argument
You wake up to discover your partner is really, really pissed off. You know you argued last night, but you just can’t remember what it was about. You rack your brain for answers.
It must’ve been serious because you’re getting the silent treatment now. You want to make amends, but what can you say when you just can’t remember what it was about?
You spend the rest of the day scrolling through text messages and trying to figure out who you called, what you said and what you posted on Facebook.
Reason #4 – Feel incredibly unhealthy and ditch all your fitness goals
You’d love to be ‘beach body ready’ but it feels impossible to find the time to exercise or eat healthily. How on earth do other people do it?
You’re always tired. You, carbs and caffeine seem to be in a serious relationship together. Just getting through the day feels like an achievement, never mind cooking healthy food and going to the gym.
Your new year goals (get fit! run a marathon! lose a stone!) feel like a distant memory.
Reason #5 – Reduce your free time to zero
It remains a mystery how some people get so much done in their free time. After drinking on a Friday night you spend Saturday recovering, whilst feeling bad that you aren’t doing all the things you promised you’d do.
Drinking again on Saturday seems like a good idea because a) it’s the weekend and b) you’re feeling rubbish anyway. You promise yourself you’ll start over next week… right?
You arrive at work on Monday morning and a colleague asks what you did over the weekend. “Oh nothing much,” you reply, wondering where the time went.
All jokes aside… don’t give up!
I hope this list helped you play the movie to the end and think through what really happens if you give up and have ‘just one drink’.
If you need a reminder of why alcohol-free living is so awesome, check out this blog post here.
I for one am very glad not to be drinking today, or tomorrow, or anytime this week, because I think sobriety ROCKS.
And if you need any help making the shift into a happier, alcohol-free life, check out my online course here.
Let me know which of these reasons resonates with you the most. What so called ‘benefits’ have I missed off my list?!
For many of us, one of the toughest things about quitting drinking is the idea of being different to everyone else.
Let’s face it: most people do drink – and most of us like to fit in!
Choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle means going against the grain. You’re doing your own thing and stepping out from the crowd… and that can be really scary at first.
If this is something you’re struggling with right now, I hope today’s video will inspire you to get out there and be AF and proud!
1) Remember that you’re far more independent and bloody-minded than you think!
Perhaps you have an unusual hobby, a unique taste in music, or you’re passionate about certain social or political issues. When it comes to those things, I bet you don’t care whether other people agree, approve, or join in with you.
You are a lot more independent than you give yourself credit for. When it comes to sobriety, try and channel that same bloody-mindedness; you are not going to stay stuck in a rut just because other people might raise an eyebrow!
2) It won’t feel this hard forever.
It’s official – you are not the only sober person on the planet. New government figures show that in boozy old Britain, 1 in 5 adults are now teetotal. So why does it feel as if everyone drinks?
It comes down to perspective. We all have a confirmation bias, so when we believe that ‘everyone’ drinks, we keep on finding more evidence that supports this theory. But when you stop drinking, you will soon start to spot other non-drinkers, or people who drink a lot less than you thought they did.
3) Being in a minority will set you up for good things!
Choosing not to follow the masses is a quiet act of rebellion. Once you’ve gone against the grain once, it’ll boost your confidence – and who knows where you’ll stop? You’ll be able to take on anything 🙂
We’re often encouraged to have a few drinks to loosen up and overcome anxiety.
Whether it’s to help us get in the mood at a party, or pluck up the courage to talk to that guy or girl, the message we often hear is: alcohol will help.
When I first quit drinking, the idea of socialising sober seemed unthinkable! I’m a pretty shy person and I used to rely on booze to get me through those situations.
So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that ditching alcohol actually reduced my anxiety. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But when you look at the science around this, it’s not actually all that surprising. Here’s why:
Science shows alcohol increases anxiety
What if the drug you rely on to calm your nerves actually made them worse? This study by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine shows that long-term drinking can increase our susceptibility to anxiety problems.
These findings tally with my own experience and that of my students. As a drinker, I was a lot more anxious in general, but I’d see a massive spike in my anxiety the morning after a big drinking session. I think the cool kids call this ‘hangxiety’. It was pretty horrible.
Over time you’ll need more and more
Tolerance is not your friend. If you’re convinced that alcohol puts you at ease, you need to be aware that over time, alcohol will stop working so well. Your body will build up a tolerance to booze, so you’ll need to drink more and more to feel any effect.
Alcohol never treats the problem
If your children felt too nervous to join in with the other kids at a party, would you give them a drug in order to help them conquer their nerves? I doubt it. You’d want them to figure out how to socialise on their own.
You’re in the same situation here. Drinking isn’t treating your anxiety – it’s just masking it for a while. That means you’re not getting the opportunity to grow your sober muscles and discover what the real you is capable of.
Tips for dealing with social anxiety, sober:
Flip your perspective
Rather than seeing parties or events as challenges that need to be avoided, try and view them as something to push through and rise up against. It’s like building muscle at the gym – you have to do the work and put some effort in if you want to get stronger.
Make a commitment to show up and give it your all
Promise yourself that you’ll listen, ask questions and be fully present. This makes you so much more interesting than the drunk person who just talks and talks and isn’t having a two way conversation.
View everything as an experiment – you’re simply on a fact-finding mission. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to show up and see what happens.
Celebrate and review afterwards
Observe how things felt. If it was a lot easier to make small talk than you imagined, you’ll want to acknowledge that – don’t gloss over it! So often the beliefs and stories we have about ourselves just aren’t true.
No matter how the event goes, celebrate with an amazing sober treat afterwards. You showed up and pushed yourself outside your comfort zone, and that means you are AWESOME! 🙌
What are your tips for overcoming anxiety and socialising sober?
I’d love to hear what works for you. Let me know in the comments!