When you are starting out on the alcohol free journey, every social occasion is hard. It is a battle of will versus temptation and if you are not committed, it is likely you will cave on your promise to yourself. For a few short hours, even minutes of indulging in alcohol, the next day will be full of guilt, shame and negative self-talk which could well lead you to drink again.
Starting out going alcohol free at Christmas time is just a bad idea, end of. You are stacking the deck in favour of failure as your mental resolve is not calloused yet and social invites are everywhere. That being said, this Christmas could be different…
Covid has brought with it much destruction to the world but hidden within it there is a gift in the pause. This Christmas is certainly different with curfews on hospitality across many countries which may make it easier to avoid alcohol on social nights out. In fact I would guess that alot of social nights are just being cancelled at this point in the run up to the big day.
As I head into my 3rd alcohol free Christmas, here are my top tips for navigating the silly season and keeping your AF pledge intact.
- Review your “Whys”
- The “Whys” are the reasons you are doing this. They are deep rooted, genuine and speak to the very soul of who you are and who you want to be. They are the concrete foundation of the new you. Write them down using an app on your phone so you always have them with you and refer to them frequently, even daily at the start but definitely before you go out socially. Cement your commitment to them silently before you leave the house.
- Look ahead in the calendar
- In these covid times, many superficial friendships have fallen away which is a good thing as real friends will (eventually) support your decision when they can see that you are committed to it. Plan a select few nights out with people you care about but ring ahead to make sure they have an AF drink option available.
- Consider how you are “selling” your Alcohol Free stance to others
- I chose to package it up as a challenge as it felt manly, exciting and basically made it easier for lads to accept someone in the group was not drinking on a night out. At the start it actually was a challenge so it helped that it was true. Packaging it up as a challenge also made it easier to ask for help along the way e.g. “you know I’m doing this 28 day AF challenge right now, and I really want to win at it so how about we go somewhere that has an AF drink available so I can keep the challenge up?”
- Role play the inevitable pressure scenarios
- You rock up to the bar and there is no AF beer, wine or anything available – what are you going to do? You have a busy bar person staring at you waiting for an order with other punters eager to get his attention, you have about 5 seconds to make up your mind here – what is your default answer here? If you don’t have one, you will likely revert to old answers (wine, beer, vodka etc…). Prepare an answer for this likely scenario so should it arise, you are ready.
If you are on an Alcohol Free journey right now, or even considering starting one, I commend you. It’s probably the biggest upgrade in life you will ever give yourself.
You got this!