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How to get through the festive season Alcohol Free and Thrive!

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

As I approach my third alcohol free Christmas season, I am genuinely looking forward to it. I’m not worried about the alcohol side, as I feel confident in my alcohol free identity and I know that I will again enjoy being fully present with my family on Christmas Day, remember all of it and not feel rubbish the next day!

So, I wanted to share some tips with you, if you are about to experience your first alcohol free Christmas or are further ahead on your alcohol free journey but perhaps feeling triggered in some way.

I’d only ditched the booze for a short space of time when I hit my first alcohol free Christmas, having initially only planned to stop drinking for 21 days. I remember thinking there was no way I could get through Christmas and New Year alcohol free and fully expected it to be a bit of a challenge.

How would I cope without partaking in our normal traditions, which when I thought about it seemed to mainly revolve around alcohol…on reflection, I think that’s because it’s the one day of the year you are absolutely allowed to overindulge.

For or me that meant, no champagne with my smoked salmon breakfast, no champagne and red wine with the turkey dinner, no port after dinner, no baileys coffee or a night cap!

Christmas comes with so many traditions and associations that go back to when we were children and so if you’ve been drinking for a while, a lot of memories around Christmas probably involved alcohol. I can totally relate to this, as my first alcohol free Christmas was the only one I’d had as an adult, other than being pregnant with our daughter.

However, as the days went on and Christmas was approaching, I learned there was an alternative way and the benefits outweighed anything I thought I may miss out on, so I embraced the challenge and prepped ahead to ensure I was able to manage.

I remember wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve with alcohol free mulled wine and waking up on Christmas morning eager to see our daughter’s face as she excitedly discovered that Santa had been and watching her unwrap her gifts then going through the day fully present, taking things in and noticing more than I normally would. It was a great Christmas!

So, how do you get through this festive period, socialise and truly enjoying the experience?

Here are 5 tips:

1. Find Alcohol Free Alternatives

The alcohol free drinks market has expanded so much in the past couple of years that there are plenty of options out there, you just have to find the ones you like. You can pretty much find an alternative to all the drinks I mentioned above plus many more and they taste great!

I know for some people, alcohol free drinks may be triggering but a cup of tea at a party won’t hack it, as your inner toddler will feel like they’re missing out, so I’d suggest at least having something in a nice grown up glass that makes you feel like you are not missing out. You can get sparkling tea, kombucha or an artisan tonic, which may be a better alternative for you.

2. Prep Ahead and Know What To Say

If you are going to a social event, go online and check what alcohol free options the bar or restaurant has. If there aren’t any think about what you can have instead e.g. soda and lime or a flavoured tonic water.

If you are going to someone’s house but you’re not ready to get into a conversation about being what you’re doing then bring your own alcohol free drinks. When people ask you why you’re not drinking, have a reason prepared and this can be anything from “I’m driving”, “I’m trying to be healthier”, “I have an early start” etc. You are under no obligation to explain yourself.

Don’t worry, as most people won’t even mention it once they’ve had their first drink or you ask them a question about themselves to change the subject!

3. Practice Self-care

As part of your alcohol free toolkit, it’s important you have things you can go to when the cravings come or if you’re feeling you need to step away from the family drama that may happen. Think about things that make you happy, which are your self-care go to activities.

You may want to go for a run or walk first thing on Christmas Day or take yourself off to listen to a podcast or do some yoga at some point in the day or plan to do something like a jigsaw or knitting while people nod off in front of the TV. Make sure you’ve thought of a few just in case you can’t do the ideal one, for example, it may not be possible to go for a 5k run while you’re in the middle of Christmas dinner but you could play your favourite Christmas tunes to boost your mood or just breathe.

4. Plan Something The Morning After

When you have a night out planned, if you feel tempted to have a drink, play it forward. What would happen if you had that drink, where would it lead and how would you feel the next day.

If you have something fun planned for the morning, this will also give you motivation to not drink and can hold you accountable.

5. Own Your Alcohol Free Identity

Be proud of where you are on your alcohol free journey and how far you’ve come regardless of the number of days you’ve been alcohol free. Not many people can do what you’re doing, so it is a great achievement! As you go through this season, remember your why, think about all the things you’re gaining and own your new identity.

Finally, if this is something you’ve chosen to do, see this as a non-negotiable and enjoy the process. How great will it be to think you have got through one of the most prolific alcohol seasons and not wavered!

If you follow these tips, I promise you, it is absolutely possible to stay alcohol free this season, even though alcohol is right there when you walk through the entrance of supermarkets, it’s on adverts everywhere and featured in Christmas movies / tv shows and it seems everyone is drinking at every social gathering you attend!

However, if you think about what you want and how you’d like the season to go for you plus what could get in the way of you achieving that and have a plan for these obstacles, then you will no doubt get to the first of January alcohol free and set yourself up in the best way for 2023! You will no doubt then go from strength to strength, as you experience that being alcohol free is actually a superpower and the best kept secret!

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