Defeating Drinking FOMO
In this blog Jen provides four suggestions to help you overcome the very common fear of missing out that arises when going alcohol-free.
When you’re considering going alcohol-free, the Fear Of Missing Out on all the drinking fun is real. But what if you know that alcohol isn’t serving you anymore?
In this blog we help you to feel the FOMO and change your relationship with alcohol anyway.
1. Ask yourself honestly: How much fun is drinking these days, REALLY?
I’m sure drinking genuinely used to be fun, but if you’ve gotten to the point of wanting to cut down or quit, chances are it’s not all fun and games anymore.
So, what’s the reality? How fun is drinking for you at this point?
I know when I was on the verge of going alcohol-free, drinking had lost its sparkle. All but gone were the pre-kids carefree days of getting dressed up, drinking with mates, laughing, and letting loose until the early hours. And completely gone were the days of being able to sleep off a hangover! The reality was more like me in my trackie dacks, drinking wine by myself in the kitchen, waiting for my husband to get home and give me a hand with the kids. And when we did have one of those boozy nights with mates, the reality was being woken at the crack of dawn by my toddlers, only to be struck by a pounding head, a sick, anxious stomach, and a mountain of guilt in my heart.
In my experience, when you start worrying that you might have a drinking problem, drinking stops being fun. Every craving becomes evidence of the thing that scares you. Every hangover, further proof. Every time you pour a drink, guilt and shame trickle out with it.
If you can relate to my experience, maybe drinking isn’t that fun for you anymore either.
It can be hard to accept that drinking isn’t fun anymore, especially with everyone and everything around us suggesting otherwise. The way people portray their drinking on social media is a good example. Why is it only the perfectly polished, full of smiles drinking pictures that get posted? Where are the drinking pictures of the other side; Wasted and inhaling a kebab at 2am? Having petty fights with their partner? Skipping bedtime stories with their kids because they are three glasses in and CBF?
If your reality is that drinking and its consequences in your life actually aren’t all that fun, it might help to make a list of all the ways that it isn’t. Write these things down and then review your list and use it to challenge FOMO when it arises.
Also, feel free to unfollow anyone who posts FOMO-triggering pictures on social media. You don’t need that in your feed.
Here’s an example, shared with permission by one of our students:
Untrue Current Belief:
Alcohol Creates Fun
Blacking out is NOT FUN
Hurting other is NOT FUN
Feeling ashamed is NOT FUN
Feeling sick is NOT FUN
2. Find what you love to do for fun
For many drinkers at the point of considering sobriety, drinking is their hobby. Probably their favourite hobby and possibly their only hobby. This was certainly the case for me. I’d lost touch with how to have fun without drinking because most of the fun in my adult life had revolved around alcohol.
The good news is that quitting alcohol is a fantastic opportunity to explore how to have good, clean fun and what activities are truly fun for you. The kind of fun that leaves you feeling nourished and recharged, rather than drained and sick. Where to start? Many people suggest thinking back to what you loved to do as a child. If you loved to sing, why not get a karaoke TV-game and belt out some ballads in your lounge room? If you loved to dance, try a Zumba class.
From my experience, the key is just to start, and then keep trying new things until you find what you enjoy and what brings a sense of lightness and playfulness into your life. I’ve tried a bunch of things in my sobriety – Tae Kwando, caravanning, running, shooting guns at the shooting range (what a rush!), piano lessons, bike riding, drawing, cross-stitch, video games, word games, board games, puzzles, snorkelling – you get the idea. I’m still on the journey of trying things out and the journey alone is fun.
And while some of these examples might sound lame, you’d be surprised how your definition of fun evolves once you eliminate the fake highs and lows that come from drinking. Little things, like solving a word puzzle, can spark real joy. Joy which often isn’t accessible in the little things when you’re drinking.
Now for you. What things did you love to do as a kid that you’ve long left behind? And what other things would you like to try for fun? There’s no need to wait. Make your list, get cracking, and you’ll soon see that you don’t need alcohol to have fun.
3. Take the initiative
Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself that you don’t get to drink with your friends anymore. Be proactive and invite your friends to do non-drinking activities with you. Walks, yoga, movies, coffee, a pottery class, morning play date, beach day, spa date, breakfast, none of these things involve drinking and are great ways to connect with your friends without alcohol.
4. Focus on what you’re gaining, not what you’re missing
Your mindset about not-drinking is EVERYTHING. Literally everything. If you focus on all the things you think you’re missing by not drinking, of course sobriety is going to be miserable for you. Feeling like ‘I don’t get to drink’ or ‘It’s so unfair that I can’t drink’ is a lack orientated mindset which is only going to leave you feeling deprived.
The good news is, you can choose a more positive and powerful mindset by focusing on everything that sobriety gives you. The joy of living hangover-free, the massively reduced anxiety and improved mental health, the outrageous productivity, the increase in self-esteem and self-love, the restorative sleep, the increase in confidence, feeling like a better mum, partner, friend, and so on. When you focus on these things (and there are many!) you change your mindset from ‘I don’t get to drink’ to ‘I don’t have to drink’, and from ‘It’s so unfair that I can’t drink’ to ‘I could drink, but I choose not to’.
When you cultivate this mindset, FOMO alchemises to JOMO, the Joy Of Missing Out. And that’s a wonderful place to be.