13 tips to drink less alcohol during holiday season

13 Tips For Drinking Less Alcohol During The Holidays

by Martha Wright •

I hope you find a few helpful tips here for either skipping or slowing down on the alcohol this holiday season. You might also check out my post from last year The Key To Drinking Less During The Holidays Is Keeping Your Cup Full.

How to stay off alcohol during the Holidays

Let's dive into those 13 tips!

  1. Celebrate! Celebrate that you are willing to consider attending an event alcohol-free! We live in an alcohol obsessed culture and bucking the norm is cool, rebellious and bad-ass.

  2. Get curious! The event presents an incredibly rich opportunity to make observations and to learn, and your expectations matter. Don’t expect the event to be terrible and to feel deprived, but neither is it required that this event proves to be the best time of your life! It might be just ok! And that would be a win! So lead with curiosity and maybe a little bit of excitement that you’re kicking off an experiment!

  3. Make one firm decision! Rather than “deciding in the moment” (a maybe is a yes), go all in, knowing that if you want, you can give yourself permission to drink another day and that not drinking at this event will begin the creation of a new neural pathway in your brain.

  4. Plan ahead! Check with your host or look online. Will there be non-alcoholic beverages provided by your host or available at the venue? Would it be ok to bring your own alcohol free drink? If options are limited, do you have a go-to order (such as sparkling water with a splash of cranberry and lime, or bitters & soda) that you’re comfortable with? What do I say if someone asks if I want a drink? Say yes, I’m parched, I’d love a glass of water. (Your host just wants to do his/her “duty” and get a glass in your hand). What do I say if people ask why I’m not drinking? Say as much or as little as you wish. You don’t owe explanations. You can say, “I feel happier when I’m not drinking,” or “I’m not drinking today,” or “I was just curious if I’d sleep better, so I’m doing a month off and feel amazing so far,” and change the subject. When you use an “I” statement, it’s all about YOU so there is little chance of someone else feeling judged. And people will follow your lead. If you look and sound upbeat and confident in the decision, they are less likely to hassle you.

  5. Pre-Game! Liberally hydrate and eat snacks high in good fat during the day, ahead of the event. We often misinterpret actual thirst for a craving for alcohol, so drinking adequate water throughout the day and before the event helps. And protein and snacks high in good fat can help stabilize blood sugar which also helps reduce alcohol cravings.

  6. Contribute! Where appropriate, is there something that you would like to bring to share whether non-alcoholic beverages like beers, wine or a savory or sweet food that you’re excited about and the host would appreciate?

  7. Visualize! Ahead of the event, picture yourself there. Picture yourself looking and feeling the way you’d like to feel. Maybe open, engaged, interested, playful. It’s up to you. Comfortable. Content. Allow yourself to really feel these states and emotions. Picture yourself being offered a drink, picture yourself holding an NA beverage and feeling sharp, clear-headed, curious about other people (or however you want to feel). I like to take a moment also to consider who this event is most important to. How do I want to show up in general and how can I show up for that person.

  8. Anticipate a few seconds of discomfort! Social events can have momentary discomfort or awkwardness whether drinking or not. A few seconds of discomfort (what do I do when they pass around the Champagne toast? What do I do when someone asks why I’m not drinking) may pale in comparison to the discomfort of a sleepless night, anxiety, saying something you regret or disappointment in breaking a promise to yourself as a result of drinking.

  9. Play A Game! Give yourself a challenge, maybe to learn one new thing or meet one new person.

  10. Slip Out The Back, Jack! Give yourself permission to leave early! Have an exit plan for when you’ve had enough. Most likely, no one will notice.

  11. Reward yourself! Have a treat waiting for you at home. You totally deserve it. It’s a big deal to not drink, and all the drinkers had their dopamine hits. You deserve a treat and it reinforces to your brain that you accomplished your goal and that being AF has its rewards.

  12. Debrief! An important step that many people forget. Review the event and write down or share with someone else all your observations. What did you expect? Did your predictions match up with the way the event played out? What did you enjoy/not enjoy about the event? Was anything harder or easier than you thought? Did you observe anything in your own behavior? In the behavior of others who were drinking? How did you feel at the event, later and the next day Any notes for the next event

  13. Celebrate again! Your new neural pathway has begun! Not everyone has the courage to break from the herd, the tradition, the norm.

You did it!! What tactics or prep is working for you? Please share in the comments!

Martha Wright is a New Orleans-born wine industry veteran turned sobriety/mindful drinking coach. She works in small groups and 1:1 in her own practice, Clear Power Coaching, as well as serving as Senior Coach within This Naked Mind (founded by best-selling author Annie Grace). Martha offers a path to regain control that focuses on understanding the neuroscience of habits, uncovering unconscious beliefs, honing coping tools and cultivating fun and play. The goal is not removing alcohol, but rather removing alcohol is just one tool in reconnecting to our thriving lives. She loves sourcing and tasting the latest non-alcoholic beverages; inspirational podcasts; traveling; ping pong and roller skating.

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