Dreaming of a summer filled with rosé, cocktails, and the occasional spritzer? Or are you hoping for an altogether more sober affair? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone. Around 20% of Brits do not drink alcohol according to the latest government statistics. Deciding to take a step back from alcohol is a valid choice.
“We all have different reasons for why we want to cut out alcohol or cut down alcohol like improving our well-being or physical, mental and emotional reasons,” explains Camille Vidal, Founder of La Maison Wellness, yoga and meditation teacher, and Creator of Mindful Cocktails™. Whatever your reasoning, getting started doesn’t have to be hard. Here are five tips you can use to help you along the way.
1. Keep in mind that alcohol is a drug
Meeting your friends for a catch simply wouldn’t be the same without a bottle of wine or two, right? Drinking when you’re out and about is likely to feel habitual; entirely normal. So normal, in fact, that you might forget the reality of the situation. Vidal suggests keeping in mind that alcohol is a drug and, therefore, impacts your health.
“People find it hard to become sober or to become mindful drinkers because alcohol is so embedded in society,” says Vidal. “It is part of the way that we celebrate—we don't really think about it, It's very much a default habit. I think we underestimate that alcohol is a drug. It's a legal one. But it is a drug. It's something that we need to know the impact of.”
2. Mix things up with alcohol-free options
When you are out and about, spending the entire night drinking alcohol is not the only option. As Vidal explains, choosing to mix things up and have an alcohol-free cocktail could be the answer to keeping a balance. “Taking an alcohol-free option or going in and out, balancing your evening with both alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks allows you to show up as yourself and gives you the opportunity to be the best version of yourself.”
“I think that the last 18 months have taught us that drinking isn't just what's in the glass. It's so much more—it’s celebration around it; the connection; feeling that we belong,” explains Vidal. “As someone who has spent the last 15 years working as a recognised figure in the hospitality industry, I do a lot of work with partners and bars to help them develop their alcohol-free options.”
3. Speak to your friends and family
If you’re trying to cut back on alcohol, speaking up is a great place to start. Your friends, family and loved ones are your support. Sharing this information with them not only holds you accountable to your decision, but it also means that you will have people to talk to about it. You don’t have to do a big fanfare. Instead, simply mention to those closest to you that you’ve made the decision to cut back on alcohol for a while.
There’s no need to feel worried about having these conversations. One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to curbing drinking is that you must have a ‘drinking problem’ to do that. However, the truth of the matter is that there could be a whole range of reasons that you’ve decided to take a break from drinking.
“For some, it’s because they're very interested in fitness and alcohol and fitness don’t mix so well together,” says Vidal. “In some people, it's because they want to be more reliable, spend more time with their family or they have such a busy life that they just don't have time to wake up with a sore head any day of the week.”
4. Become more mindful of your habits
Mindfulness is by no means the answer to all of your worldly woes. However, chances are that it could help you improve many aspects of your lifestyle. If you find that you drink as your default setting when you’re out, it may be time for a quick reset. Taking the time to notice the habits serve you well and the ones that don’t is the first step. When you start to become aware of these things, cutting back on drinking may seem like a no-brainer.
“I believe that mindfulness is something that you sprinkle all over your life and not just by going to the gym or eating well. Drinking is a big part of the foundation of our well being,” says Vidal. You may find that cutting back on alcohol is the way to go for you. Or, on the other hand, you may decide to give up completely. The choice is 100% yours. You can also track this journey—in a journal or app—to see how you progress.
5. Avoid peer pressure to drink
Find it hard not to have a few in social situations? That might be something you want to address. Peer pressure is not a reason to drink if you don’t feel in the mood. Should you find that certain friends or even family members pile on the pressure to drink when you see them, speak to them openly about the situation.
It’s likely that they don’t realise how their words or actions affect you. Simply be honest and, if they support you, they will understand your reasoning. Of course, there may be some people you know who won’t accept this choice. If that’s the case, it’s worth questioning why that is or finding ways to hang out with them in a non-drinking setting. For example, you could skip a night in the pub in favour of an activity, such as bowling.
Ready to embrace your sober summer? Using the above tips could help you stay on track. Remember, going completely cold turkey may be difficult so you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, figure out what is healthy for you and take things at your own pace. Simple!