May 2024

Drinking in Excess to Be the “Life of the Party”? You’re Not Alone.

For many of us, alcohol is the glue that holds all social activities together. Here's how you can avoid drinking and still be the life of the party.

Having a glass of bubbles in my hand was the social crutch I had come to depend on. It made socialising that much easier, a cheers with friends, a sense of connection when meeting new people, a symbolism of enjoying the moment and seeing where the night might take me—spoiler alert: more often than not, it was to one bar too many, then via Maccas in an Uber on the way home, cursing myself for not leaving at 11 pm when I had my chance!

For many of us, seemingly overnight, alcohol moves from having a few glasses when meeting up with friends to the glue that holds all social activities together. Birthdays, milestone achievements, commiserations, good days at work, bad days at work—insert any excuse here—slowly but surely, alcohol takes centre stage. Often without even realising it, alcohol becomes a form of social lubrication, the “life of the party” rhetoric playing on repeat every weekend.

How then can you identify if alcohol is not actually serving you in social situations, and what can be done to ensure you don’t need to use alcohol as your social crutch? You can begin by asking yourself:

  • Do I feel anxious or self-conscious in social settings without alcohol?
  • Am I using alcohol to mask social insecurities or boost confidence?
  • Have I experienced guilt or regret after drinking in excess?
  • Do I struggle to find balance and moderation in social drinking settings?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these, then reassessing how alcohol shows up in your life could be of great benefit to you. Here are 10 ways you can get started:

1. Plan your drinks

Heading into a social setting with a drinks game plan is essential for staying on top of your consumption. Take note of how many drinks (if any) you intend to consume. Slow everything down to stay present in the moment.

2. Journal your moods

After your event, make a note of what you consumed against your planned drinks. Did you stay on track or is there room for improvement? This step is integral to establishing patterns and environments that help you stay on track and allow you to identify the triggers that lead you to drink more than you intended.

3. Explore alcohol-free alternatives

Mixing up your drinks with alcohol-free alternatives provides the social inclusion of having a drink in hand but also allows you to stay on track with your reduction goals. This is a growing industry with some amazing options on offer.

4. Use Visualisation Techniques

Hear me out; this is not as woo-woo as it sounds. Ahead of an event, simply visualize how the night might look for you—walking through the door, greeting the hosts, the guests that you know will be there, the conversations you can have with those people, a couple of conversation starters with those you don’t know. The more prepared you are mentally, the more in control you will feel on arrival.

5. Loop a friend into the plan

Attend social events with someone who makes you feel comfortable. Let them know your intention to drink less. This avoids the well-meaning top-ups or shouting of rounds.

6. Enjoy the moment

Really take in the details of your environment; the décor, food, music, ambience, speeches, the attention to detail. These are the things people labour over ahead of social occasions; it’s such a waste when alcohol drowns them out for you.

7. Play the tape forward

Imagine yourself leaving as fresh as you arrived. That feeling of coming home, taking your makeup off, and jumping into bed with a cuppa, knowing you won’t be waking up with anxiety, regret (or a false eyelash stuck to your forehead), never gets old!

8. Become acquainted with ‘Quit-Lit’

This is a genre of literature for the sober curious. They range from education on alcohol and its effects to light-hearted reads with stories from people talking about their own relationship with alcohol.

9. Listen to a sober-curious podcast

There is relatability in hearing other people’s stories. Podcasts offer a great medium for privacy and convenience, enabling you to educate yourself when you’re out for a walk, in the car, or going about your day.

10. Take meditation out for a whirl

Try incorporating short meditation sessions into your routine. I would suggest starting with a guided meditation to fall asleep. It’s a quick and easy way to get out of your head and feels like a bedtime story for adults.

Being mindful of what you consume and the environments and emotions that lead to excess consumption is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol. It can take time to break ingrained habits but playing the long game of setting realistic goals for social interactions, allows you to enjoy yourself without relying on alcohol as a crutch. Not only do you genuinely start to enjoy the moment, but you also wake up fresh, ready to take on whatever the weekend holds, and that is something to be celebrated.

Remember, alcohol isn’t what makes you the life of the party; on the contrary, you are a vibe all on your own!

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