The holidays are fast approaching and it’s not uncommon in many cultures to associate drinking alcohol with celebrations, holidays included. If you’ve made the decision to not drink this holiday season, or you’re contemplating abstaining from alcohol use during your celebrations, there are some things you may want to consider beforehand. Planning ahead can help you stick to your plan of not drinking and still thoroughly enjoy the holiday festivities.
- Decide ahead of time whether or not you’re drinking and how much- It can be helpful to think through your decision to limit or completely cease drinking beforehand to help you follow through with this plan. Waiting until you’re at an event to decide can be overwhelming and could cause you to go back on your plans if you’re not fully committed going into a situation. To do this, take time before the holidays and make a decision on your drinking and how you plan to stick to that plan.
- Identify your reasonings or your “why”- Having a good understanding of why you’re choosing to limit or completely abstain from drinking altogether can help reinforce your plan. It can also be helpful to remind yourself of if you start to feel pressured or have urges to drink despite initially planning not to. As long as your “why” makes sense to you, it’s a good reason.
- Role-play how you’ll tell people you’re not drinking/say “no” when someone asks- If you typically drink during the holidays, not drinking may pose some questions. To avoid being influenced by peer pressure, feeling unable to say “no” when you want to, or going back on your plan in the moment, think through how you will tell others about your plan. It can also be helpful to think of what you might say if someone offers you a drink. Example: “I’m not drinking today. Do you have any soda/tea/water I could have instead?”
- Have healthy distractions- Having something to keep your mind off drinking or away from the alcoholic drinks can also be very helpful. Consider playing with children in the other room, helping clean up the kitchen, taking a walk after eating if needed, or talking to other individuals who are not drinking.
- Mix a festive alcohol-free drink – Mocktails are making a big comeback, and there are countless recipes online for mixing a tasty drink without the alcohol. You likely won’t be the only one at the party cutting back from drinking, so make enough to share!
- Set time limits- The longer you stay at a gathering/event, the more you may feel pressured to drink/partake. If needed, set time limits beforehand to help ensure you follow through with your plan. This may look like identifying you will only stay until after dessert is severed or for a specific time limit, such as two hours. There’s nothing wrong with saying you need to leave at a certain time.
- Leave early if you need to- If it starts to become too much, it’s okay to leave earlier than anticipated. You do not have to stay at a place you don’t want to be or do not feel comfortable at. Leaving early can be a great way to engage with family/friends/holiday events and still stick to your plan to not drink.
No matter what the event or occasion may be, the decision to drink or not drink is yours and only yours to make. Holidays can be full or mixed emotions, some exciting, stressful, sad, or even anxious. If alcohol impacts your holiday celebrations, consider reducing or abstaining from drinking to help you enjoy holidays to the fullest, on your terms.