The holiday season sets our social lives’ abuzz: There’s parties to attend to, potlucks to host, gifts to give (and receive), and ugly sweaters to scout. And what does fête after fête add up to? Um, lots and lots of alcohol. So much so, that by the time the new year rolls along, the last two weeks feel like one long hangover. Which is why with January approaching, maybe you’ve decided to go cold-turkey on the booze. No alcohol. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Sober January, renewed self, here we come!
But—exactly how does one go about successfully executing a Sober January? Does it require living like a hermit? Forgoing all social activities? Having a ready “excuse” for why you’re not drinking? Fear not, ahead are some simple tips that should make sticking with a Sober January easy peasy.
Identify your why
Before you embark on your 30-day booze-free month, take time to reflect on what your goals are. Why is it that you’re doing a Sober January? Are you trying to no longer deal with hangovers? Are you trying to save cash? Are you curious about what your social life will look like without alcohol? By understanding your motivation at the onset of the month, you can then come up with a catchphrase that sums up your goal. Think something along the lines of, “I’m taking this month to focus on my health by nourishing my body with foods and drink that replenish my energy and make me feel good about myself.”
Now, it’s important here to phrase your “why” in a positive light. Think about how negative the situation sounds if you sum up your motivation by declaring what you’re giving up. “I will not be drinking any alcohol this month.” When you put the focus on what you can and will do, rather than what you won’t, you’re empowering yourself. The other way just sounds like you’re depriving yourself—and that takes willpower that can quickly evaporate. Use your “why” whenever you need that extra spark of motivation to get you through the month.
Make your plan
Abstaining from your usual social activities might quickly feel energy-depleting. To combat the fear of missing out, you need a plan for how you’ll socialize, what activities you’ll embark on, and how you’ll explain your decision to friends.
In Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol, author Rubi Warrington advises first identifying the triggers that make you crave alcohol. Ask yourself: Are you the kind of person who feels the need to unwind after a long week at work? Does the unwinding usually happen over Friday happy hour with friends where you commiserate over your crummy job? When you understand what causes you to want to reach for a drink, you can then question the situation, Warrington writes. That is, if you really want to de-stress after a hard work week, does alcohol actually help you? What about the morning after spent dealing with a hangover? Does that cause you more stress because you’ve now wasted a day?
Identify your triggers, be they situations or feelings and make an alternative plan to help you deal with those emotions.
Choose your activities wisely
In Sober Curious, Warrington suggests opting for social events that are day-focused and that include some form of activity. Instead of a late-night dinner (ultimately accompanied by drinks), opt for brunch (sans the mimosas). Instead of joining happy hour, why not invite friends to a yoga class, to go bowling, or a comedy show? The idea is to get your body moving, your hands occupied, and your mind squarely focused on a task. in doing so, you’ll avoid the temptation to absentmindedly reach for a drink.
And oh, yeah—if you must join your friends for a drink. Why not make it a personal challenge to just get through the first round? Ask for a club soda with bitters and by round two, your friends will likely have given up on asking you to join them.
And that’s it! Enjoy your best self. You’ll be the belle of the ball come February since, lest we forget, you’ll have glowing skin, enjoy restful sleep, and have some extra cash in your pocket.