6 Tips (Advice) for Sober Socialising:
As we head out of lockdown again there will be those amongst us that are apprehensive about going back into the big wide world of sober socialising. Perhaps you have stayed sober during lockdown and not being allowed to socialise has worked in your favour, I know it has me. Sober socialising is one of the biggest ‘fear factors’ when a person quits drinking because it is like sending you into the lion’s den where alcohol is readily available, and the demon and witch are waiting, almost fishing, with you as the prize and the booze as the bait!
When you’re invited to go out, and regardless of the occasion, whether it is a few drinks, a meal out with friends or even a dinner together at someone’s house, you are entitled to feel a little anxious. Here is some advice to help you:
Do you really want to go?
Tough one this because you don’t want to appear boring, but at the same time, the company might just be the ones that bore you. Ask yourself if you are going along because you really want to? Do you have things in common or will it just be a case of getting pissed? This is the first consideration and to be quite honest, you might not know until you have returned home, but seriously have a think and if they are true friends you are going to socialise with, go anyway and see how it goes.
Prepare yourself mentally (6 P’s… again)
Planning & Preparation Prevents a Piss Poor Performance. I know I bang on about this so much and in this case, I am more referring to getting mentally prepared for sober socialising. Self-talk comes in handy here. In the build-up, try not to worry about ‘what happens if I drink’ or ‘what happens if I get offered drinks’, think more along the lines of ‘I’m looking forward to seeing my friends or family again, even though I don’t drink’ and ‘it will be great to catch up and not have a hangover the day after’. In NLP terms you are re-gaming. Your changing your active thoughts to suit a more positive you with a more positive mental attitude. The following tips take this further.
Let people know
The last thing you want is that awkward conversation that starts with ‘What you avin’ and you having to explain that you don’t want to drink alcohol, you’ve quit drinking etc. and the whole nine yards ‘war and peace’ about why. Always let your friends and family know where there is any chance of this happening. Personally, I would let them know regardless as a source of support. If for any reason you get kickback from this, then quite frankly, why would you socialise with them in the first place (put very politely)! You need people around you to support you and whom you feel comfortable with.
Put a time limit on it
Like self-talk and preparing for the event, this will help you mentally. Tell yourself that you will go for an hour or two and if you feel anxious then you can allow yourself to leave. There is no shame in being the first to go home and to be fair, if the conversation turns to drunken bollox (it happens!) you will want to be out of there anyway so allow yourself. You are in charge.
Don’t let negative thought escalation creep in
This is where you over think the fact that you are not drinking and associate it with not being fun. Put another way, you need to get rid of any thoughts that suggest the night will only be fun if alcohol is involved. Try and remember that not all social events are great, whether alcohol is involved or not and rather than thinking negative about not drinking, consider how fresh you will be the day after.
Have a ‘real’’ excuse
It may be that in the past you just simply could not face going to any social occasion through fear of alcohol and so you have made your excuses. Firstly, there is no shame in this because you do what you must do to stay off the sauce. But why not actually have a real activity or plan that you need or want to do. You will have heard people say in the past ‘I’m taking it steady because I have work in the morning’ or even better ‘I’m on a promise’. What is stopping you actually planning something else? It could be an early morning swim, a coffee with an old friend, a track day booked to drive super cars or whatever! It doesn’t have to be extreme, but it will give you that encouragement that you don’t have to stay and there is another agenda in life.
In summary, when you quit drinking and have to come to terms with sober socialising, remember, it will change, but this should be for the better and you should start thinking about things to do that don’t involve drinking. Start getting used to the realisation that your outlook on socialising will probably change. For example, you may still go to bars and restaurants but let’s say you are meeting friends for a drink. Once the alcohol flows it may annoy you, you will become bored or pissed off and cut it short. However, this is a positive, because you will get a marvellous night’s sleep and not feel like a bag of spanners the next day. Also, it makes much better for family life.
Socialising can now be on your terms, and yes you will go places in support of others, but you can also enjoy it without alcohol and remember that you are in charge of you. I hope this has helped.
All the best… Darren