They don’t call it the ‘silly season’ for nothin.’ There’s an energy at this time of year that feels thick with intensity. On the roads people honk their horns a bit quicker, snap at waiters more often and you feel buzzed yet drained all at once with the constant loop of ‘shit I’ve gotta do before Christmas’ on repeat in your head.
It’s standard for everything to feel more extreme – especially ‘Christmas catch up drinks’ (which sidebar – are ridic when often you haven’t seen someone in six months and all decide NOW would be a perfect time to do lunch?!) It’s not hard to get carried away with the ‘f*ck it, it’s almosssst holidays’ headspace at long lunches that turn into eve longer dinners which turn into even longer dancefloor sesh’s. It feels impossible to say ‘no’ to a celebratory glass because if you opt out you’re basically ruining Christmas / don’t believe in love / now have no reason to see ANYBODY in your ridiculously short window before Santa rocks up. But I’m here to tell you it can be done (and by can be done, I mean not done at all – drinking that is!)
This time last year I was almost two months sober. I’d started a journey of self improvement that began without a single drop of Christmas cheer. I’ve struggled with a relationship with alcohol my whole life (which you can find out more about here, here and here PS!) but the Christmas / New Year’s period was easily THE HARDEST part of my 12 months of sobriety.
And whilst my own journey entailed quitting completely – I don’t think everyone’s path requires such an extreme approach. There’ve been some seriously important lessons I’ve learned about being in a good place with booze this time of year and considering it’s Christmas blah blah blah I thought it’d be rude not to share them with you…
1.) People pressuring you to drink is almost always their own shit – the moment I got my head around other people’s self-projection, being sober felt way less daunting. It’s like someone breaking their diet and pressuring everyone around them to also have chocolate cake with them because sharing the food means sharing the guilt, just like sharing the frothie does too. Someone can tell themselves ‘I think I drunk too much the other night…but ah well so did everyone else so it’s fine.’ Negating guilt and normalising unhealthy behaviour is so, so commonplace – especially when it comes to booze in this country. Saying ‘no’ the tequila shot makes people reflect back on and question their own behaviour – which for some people is really confronting. So just know that a LOT of this is their stuff, not yours. Once I realised this, saying ‘no thanks’ felt less daunting because I knew it wasn’t actually me that they had a problem with, it was their own drinking habits they felt uncomfortable with.
2.) Always have a beverage (even if it’s non-alcoholic) to feel included – this is SUCH a simple, practical thing to do. So much of the conversation around not drinking is that it’s ‘antisocial’ and in a way there are certain things that you are let out of when you’re not doing the same thing that everyone else is doing. Soda water with lime became my secret weapon – not only did it stopped people asking ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ (because CBF answering after the 234th time in one night) but it allowed me to be involved in the ‘cheers to good health’ I was still a part of the round with mates just with a soda water or a cheeky red bull, I still walked to the bar with my friends and got a drink instead of feeling stuck at the table because without drinking I had no reason to leave. When you stop / change your drinking habits it’s not hard to feel different and a bit left out, so this trick really helps you to feel included…not to mention the liquid will mean you still need to pee all the time with your friends that are drinking #social
Sidebar – there is such a MASSIVE range of non-alcoholic beveradges on the market it’ll blow your socks off how yummy some of them are. Here are a few of my faves –
*Blue Nun Shiraz
*Maggie Beer non-alcoholic sparkling ruby cabernet
*Hillbilly Non Alcoholic Apple Cider (I LOVED THESE BAD BOYS)
Almost every bottle shop will have a selection of non-alcoholic drinks as well as supermarkets – but my tip is to choose things that have been de-alcoholized, so still brewed the same way normal alcohol has before having that element removed which is way better than sugary fruit juice in a wine bottle which is what you’d usually find in supermarkets.
3.) Think of other catch up ideas than just ‘a drink’ – I get it, it’s a heccas time of year so ‘grabbing a drink’ with a mate / family around Chrissy is an option you don’t have to think about, but there are SO many other (and funner) things you can do together. I found that people welcomed the change – because they too are probs feeling bored and bloated by the amount of ‘Christmas drinks.’ Going for a walk / the movies / a picnic / ice-cream / a coffee / a yoga class / a Sunday drive / a swim / an art class / shopping / movie night on the couch / seeing live music / rock climbing (yes I actually did this) were all reasons I used to catch up with people that didn’t completely revolve around alcohol. It can be easy when you’re sober to opt out of catch ups with people completely
Just remember that you should feel proud, instead of embarrassed. Even having a conscious thought-process around how much you’re drinking and why is a really fucking massive step in putting your own self-worth first – because believe it or not, that is WAY more important than your work BFF having three seconds of disappointment that you said ‘no’ to a glass of rose! You got dis.