There are many reasons why people choose not to drink, or to reduce their alcohol intake altogether… but what about when you’re forced to? For those with addictions, illnesses or perhaps pressures from cultural or religious practices, you may find yourself in the sober girl society against your will! I for one definitely found myself in this camp. Giving up alcohol wasn’t something I wanted to do, but rather something I HAD to do (at least temporarily) due to ill health. Here are some of my top tips to deal with this (sometimes abrupt) change in lifestyle:
Tips to remember:
The classic ‘look on the bright side’
There are LOADS of positives to not drinking. An obvious one is you save loads of money, and in this economic climate, need I say more? Another positive is that you never have to deal with hangovers. More than likely, this will save you a bunch of time the following morning and possibly way into the afternoon! Overall, I found cutting down on alcohol allowed me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I was more aware of my body and what I consumed, and how it affected both my mental and physical health- as a result I really started to take my fitness and health more seriously. I actually found I learnt a fair bit about myself too; how I react in social situations, what my triggers were and what some of my weaknesses and strengths are when faced with making decisions.
I will say that focusing on the positives, rather than the negatives of what you’re giving up and potentially missing out on, can take a lot of practice. It requires you to be aware of your everyday thoughts (mindfulness can really help with this) and change the way you think. However, in the long run, focusing on the positives of not drinking can make the sober transition much easier and quicker.
Focus on your WHY
When you’re really struggling, you’re feeling frustrated with your situation, or you just really crave having a drink… remember why you’re doing this. What is the why for you? Is giving up drink supporting your fitness goals? Maintaining better mental health? Aligning with your faith? Whatever it is, try to remember what long term goals you’re aiming for, and remind yourself of that. Focusing on what going sober is helping you to achieve can take you out of your short-term frustrations, and focus on the bigger picture.
If you find it helps, keep a list on your phone of reasons why you don’t want to drink. This can serve as a quick and accessible reminder as to why it’s all worth it! You can easily refer to this list over and over again to remind yourself of your why, and stop yourself from making a decision you may later regret. Reframing your thinking and focusing on what you’re gaining can make a huge difference when it comes to obtaining your sober goals!
Try not to care what others think
I say try because if you’re like me, this one might be tough and take some time. When my sober journey began, I was in the depths of my uni party-girl era, and the last thing I wanted was to give up alcohol. It wasn’t a choice, it was rather forced upon me, which meant I often said yes to drinks when I shouldn’t have or didn’t want to. As a result, I often felt bad about myself after or wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. Looking back, a lot of the reason behind why I said ‘yes’ to drinking when I shouldn’t have, came down to worrying about what others would think. My own family at times would make insensitive comments or make me feel like the odd one out for not having a drink with them.
Earlier I mentioned that going sober taught me a lot about myself… well you’re also likely to find out a lot about those around you too! Friends and family can sometimes have different reactions to you not drinking, often not as you would expect. It can truly teach you who your real friends are, who your supporters are and how people react to your decisions. Who is accepting and who is not? Who is inspired, supportive, kind to your decision? Who is uncomfortable, annoyed or threatened? My tip would be to temporarily remove yourself from certain situations if you know you’re going to find it hard to stick to being sober. Later down the line you’ll be happy you stuck to your guns.
Go easy on yourself
As with everything, show patience and kindness to yourself. Show yourself genuine care (real compassion when things go wrong rather than just whacking on a face mask). It gets better and easier with time, and soon, like me, you might find yourself in situations choosing not to drink because you prefer it and feel so much better. Taking care of yourself and going easy of yourself, can also mean when you are offered a drink, you’re in a better position to say no. Speak kindly to yourself, take time to yourself and know you’ve got this!
By Zenia Khajotia
Zenia lives in North London and works on Transport Strategy in the UK. She has been partially sober for 7 years (on and off) and sends love to all those facing digestive issues, ibs or intolerances! She is passionate about gut health and sobriety and is happy to be contacted through her food and drink Instagram: @onegirltwobowls