The number 1 thing I get asked about when it comes to not drinking alcohol is how I deal with the social pressure.
While I think it’s important to point out that the social pressure, while feeling very real, is really something we create in our mind (thus meaning we also have the power to create circumstances in which we don’t feel it! Yay!), I have so much compassion for those of you who are desperately wanting to give up or reduce your alcohol intake but just can’t seem to stay on track when friends, colleagues, family are thrown into the mix.
So here are my top 10 tips to dealing with the social pressure around drinking alcohol:
1. Stop wasting your time trying to come up with a reason that people may or may not understand as to why you are not drinking. You don’t need to explain anything and any explanation only provides a basis for people to twist your arm and convince you that your reasoning is wrong.
Simply, politely answer: I’d just prefer not to.
2. Get used to the feeling of awkwardness. When I first stopped drinking, for some reason I went into those first few social outings looking upon my situation through eyes of amusement. I saw the humour in my situation and I enjoyed sitting in the awkwardness.
And, you know what I found? Once you give yourself the time to actually sit through the initial discomfort, things actually become a whole lot more comfortable. That’s right! The awkwardness wears off. I now believe that we just don’t give ourselves enough time to get to the other side of awkwardness. In my own experience, the awkwardness could last up to an hour after which everything was feeling pretty darn comfy to me.
3. Get yourself a replacement beverage to have on hand so that you still have something to hold. My personal drink of choice was a glass of sparkling water, hopefully with a little slice of lemon, lime or cucumber. In the beginning, I would order a large bottle of sparkling water and rest assured I would get through that bottle of water. You need it in the beginning. Don’t make things harder on yourself!
4. Write yourself a list of all the benefits to you of not drinking. So basically a list of all the reasons you have decided not to drink. These are your why. Commit them to memory, not so you share them with anyone – simply so you remember them in the face of any forgetting or doubt as to why you are doing this again.
5. Don’t say anything to the people you are with, if you can get away with it, about your not drinking. Just don’t point it out – see what you can get away with it!
6. Avoid social situations where you know you will feel the most struggle for your first month. Simply pass on them and make plans with people that will not involve drinking or where you will be less tempted. Or just hang out with yourself - do you know how awesome you are?
For instance, for me I knew Friday nights after work were going to be a big temptation. They were the nights where I wanted to forget the week I had had (because I wasn’t working in a job that I loved at the time) so I was most prone to wanting to go out and get “smashed”. So instead of still going along to work drinks, I would schedule a dinner date with my man, or a yoga session, a movie, the theatre or a coffee catch up with a friend or simply a date with myself!
7. Surround yourself with people who don’t drink. Once you stop drinking, you will start to become aware of people in your environment who also don’t drink or of organisations that promote no drinking and of many amazing, inspiring and successful people who also choose to go sober. Again, see it as a little game – who can you meet now that doesn't drink? This is a great time to bond over your decision!
8. Stand proud in your decision not to drink – for every person who does something against the status quo, you are without a doubt paving the way for someone else to do the same. Just by you doing something different, you give permission for others to do the same. How cool is that?!
9. Pretend that this is something that you are just experimenting with – it’s something you are taking for the team. What would you life be like without alcohol? For some reason, people seem to respond well to this. Everyone wants to know, what would it really be like? See your situation as doing something for the greater good.
10. Research 10 different activities you could do with your friends, colleagues or family that doesn’t involve drinking. Think of this as an opportunity to try something new! We all know how boring having the same drunk conversation can be anyway right?!
So there it is my beautiful friends! I hope you enjoyed this list. If you want to check out the top lessons I learned doing 12 months without alcohol you can find my earlier post on this topic here.
Life without alcohol was better than I could have ever imagined. I loved it to so much, I decided to continue!
Got some of your own tips for dealing with the social pressure around drinking? Share them with us below!
Lots of love,