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10 Tips to Help You Socialise Sober (and Love It!)

In this blog, Lucy shares with us her top 10 tips to help you socialise sober.

This month I am celebrating my 39th Birthday. After two years of lockdown birthdays I’ve decided to make a few plans to celebrate with my partner, close friends and family. The last time I celebrated my birthday with a group was my 30th. That involved hours of day drinking with friends, carrying on to the evening, traipsing around the streets of St Kilda,  losing my friends and stumbling home on my own crying (of course). My bestie had gifted me a beautiful necklace that day. When I woke up the following morning, it was broken, tied in a knot around my neck with no memory of what had occurred. Joy! 

It’s ridiculous to think that in early sobriety I feared what my social life would be like without alcohol, and all that I would ‘miss out’ on. How would I socialise without my dutch courage, and how would I have fun? The associations we have between alcohol and fun are so deeply embedded in our brain after years of being brainwashed by ads, the media, Movies and TV shows (thanks Carrie Bradshaw…)

Many Thrivalist members also share that one of their biggest fears about getting sober is how they will socialise and have fun without drinking. The Big Alcohol Industry has done such a great job brainwashing us through their advertising and messaging. But this is all just an illusion. 

Socialising and having fun does not require alcohol. And drinking does not equal fun. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog, as you work towards changing your relationship with alcohol. These are untrue beliefs that you haven’t let go of (yet!).

In this blog I was to share 10 tips to help you navigate socialising without booze and have a much better time doing it than you ever did as a drinker.

1. Decide in advance that you’re not going to drink.

Now while this may sound obvious, it’s important that you take a moment before going to an event to make that rock solid decision that you’re not going to drink. There can be a lot of thoughts creeping into the lead up to an event that may sound a little like:  “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t”, but if your goal is to stay sober, it’s important to take the time to make that firm commitment in advance. If you allow yourself to waver between “maybe I will, maybe I won’t”, it’s possible you’ll quickly cave in to the wine witch or have your arm twisted and end up drinking. So lock that decision to not drink in and then use the following tips to get really prepared.

2. Flip your mindset from ‘socialising is only fun with alcohol’ to ‘it’s fun anyway’ 

Whatever you believe will be true for you, and alcohol often unfairly gets the credit for most of the fun that’s had at social occasions. The elevated vibe, excitement and electricity in the room at the beginning of an event or a dinner is because humans get off on connection. It’s not the alcohol that’s creating that elevated mood. It just happens to be that we are holding a drink at the same time, so alcohol often unfairly gets all the credit for something that’s genuinely fun for humans anyway, which is interacting with each other. 

So just open your mind to the possibility that you can have fun without alcohol. It’s possible that you’ll need to re-learn how to do that, and maybe it’s something that might take a bit of time and energy and exposure therapy. For me, I had to attend a few social events, feel a little bit awkward, and then realise that I could have fun and in fact, more fun without drinking. Each time you demonstrate to your brain that yes, sober socialising can be fun, it takes away some of the fear and dread that can come with attending social events without drinking.

3. Be prepared with alternative alcohol-free drinks 

If you’re not fond of the Non Alc wines, beers and spirits or perhaps you feel they trigger you (this can be a thing so please be wary) it’s still important to plan ahead of time what you will be drinking. Even if it’s water with chopped up fruit or a Kombucha – be prepared! If you’re going to someone else’s house, take your drinks with you. If you’re going to a restaurant or bar, check the drinks list ahead of time if they have it on their website, or if you don’t know what drinks are available for you, then give them a call ahead of time. And if they don’t have anything that you feel is suitable to drink, you can ask them if you can BYO. I have done this a number of times and I will always ask to speak to the manager, and then let them know that they don’t cater to me, but I still want to enjoy my night as everyone else gets to and this normally works! 

4. Visualise your alcohol-free evening 

Visualisation is SO powerful when it comes to achieving your goals. So before heading out for your event, spend five minutes visualising yourself enjoying your Non Alc drinks, having a great time, laughing with your friends or enjoying quality time with your loved ones. Get excited about the evening and not having to worry about how much you’ll drink, what you’ll say or do or how you’ll feel the following day. 

5. Take a supportive partner or friend with you 

I was lucky to have a best friend in early sobriety that wore this hat for me at a few big events. She would stay by my side, check in and see if I was OK regularly, leave when I wanted and even spent an hour in a toilet cubicle with me when I was struggling on a night out. So make sure you have this person in your life, be it a partner, friend or sibling and be really clear with them about what you need from them support wise. This may be that they order your drinks for you, leave with you when you’ve had enough or take a short walk around the block with you to get some air.

6. Know what to say to people when they ask why you’re not drinking 

Prepare your one-liner ahead of time so that you’re not thrown off when people ask. I recommend if you’re new to sober socialising to keep it simple with a response such as ‘I’m on a health kick’ so you’re not stuck in an unnecessarily uncomfortable situation or thrown off by someone judging your decision to go sober. 

7. Expect to feel some discomfort, especially when sober socialising is new for you. 

Yes it may feel uncomfortable because it’s something different, you’re challenging yourself and stretching yourself when your brain and body are used to having alcohol in the situation. Now, you’re having to sit with your feelings, and perhaps feel some social anxiety. These feelings may feel uncomfortable, but you are completely capable of sitting through them. Try treating the discomfort with compassionate curiosity and giving yourself what you need to support yourself in a healthy way.

8. Have your transport home organised ahead of time

This is important so that if you happen to decide you need to escape, you have prepared a way to get yourself home and you’re not waiting around desperate to get home, at the same time as battling the wine witch. Whether that’s by driving and being prepared with where to park, knowing the train times, or making sure you can get an Uber from the venue. It’s also a good idea to text the host ahead of time if you think there is a chance you’ll leave without saying goodbye.

9. Make a moment out of your sober bedtime routine 

This is simply heavenly. Enjoy every single moment of this. Take a long hot shower, wash off your makeup, apply a luxurious face cream, hop into your comfy PJs and then slide into your clean sheets. This is one of my favourite things about sobriety. When I drank I would normally always sleep with my makeup on, and sometimes even my outfit, and wake up beyond revolting. Sobriety gives you the complete opposite nighttime experience – so lap it up! 

10. Plan a beautiful hangover-free morning to celebrate yourself 

It’s important to really make the most of the fact that you didn’t drink the night before so do whatever it is that makes you feel good. Whether that’s yoga,a beach walk, a hike, or just a lie in with a cup of tea, when we reward ourselves for our achievements, it gives us more motivation to keep going – because it feels so good! 

Sober socialising can truly be a joy if you’re willing to  push through the discomfort, flip your mindset and decondition your subconscious beliefs around alcohol being fun. Our Thrivalist Membership is a fantastic way to get support from other women who know exactly what you’re going through. 

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