Trying to cut back on your alcohol? Tough call. This is especially true if the vast majority of your friends see drinking as a social necessity and you find it a necessary clutch for your own insecurities. In Australia particularly, it is hard to remove alcohol from gatherings, without turning into a social recluse. Alcohol, the wonderful social lubricant, is used to help quash self-doubt, lift damp moods and decrease anxiety. In fact, the more resolute you become with your goal, the more friends appear to go out of their way to guilt you into a drink. Particularly, if there is no apparent ‘reason’ for not drinking. I mean, who would choose not to drink just because?
It is, however, possible to stay strong and sober without denying yourself of a good social life. And there are a few tactics the HYPOXI crew used during Dry July to keep us on the straight and narrow.
1. It’s all in your head. The sad truth is that alcohol is highly overrated. Indeed there is little evidence to suggest that alcohol actually alleviates social anxiety- the reality is; you just think it does. Alcohol’s benefits are far more psychological than biological and your own sober conversation is far more funny and stimulating than your drunken drivel.
2. Learn how to refuse. Despite our best intentions, unless we practice a new habit, willpower or our lack thereof will get the better of us. Know how to refuse and repeat it to yourself a few times, before entering a gathering. Be confident with your decision and remember practice makes perfect. Whether you want to eliminate alcohol altogether or drink in moderation, you will need to have a response ready and be resolute about your decision.
3. Make a healthy bet. Get serious about your health and bet with your friend to get up early each morning to exercise. If your friends then encourage you to stay out and drink, your answer changes the focus on to something else. You can’t lose that bet, right?
4. Cheat. Pretend to drink. That’s right. Ask the bar staff to serve you water and ice only when you order. That means when you order your vodka and soda or gin on the rocks, in your loud booming ‘intoxicated’ voice, your discreet drinking habits can be left unquestioned. Or just order a drink that looks alcoholic. No one can tell whether your glass of Diet Coke has rum in it.
What happens after Dry July?
A short hiatus from binge drinking won’t have a meaningful impact on your health. Rather, drop the all or nothing approach and seek to cut back to a moderate level of drinking over several months.
While giving up alcohol was downright difficult, there were actually many perks to the process. Conversations without alcohol became eye opening. Without the numbness of alcohol to distract us, those dark kept secrets divulged to you via drunken friends lips were remembered. Plus, eating out became significantly cheaper -as if you were the only one on the table who had been part of a group buying discount voucher.
The deliriously best part of not drinking though, was the clarity it gave us – for once we could see with upmost precision which friends we were relaxed around and which ones left us dying for a drink. An amazing screening process really.
And lucky for us all – while we still love Friday afternoon drinks, we didn’t need them here at head office in order to create the usual chaotic laughs and conversations.