So you made it through the holidays…now what? Maybe you overindulged on sugar and carbs and you are ready to recommit to some better choices that support eating and sleeping better, having more energy and fun while socializing without feeling like shit the next day plus shaving off some LB’s, but don’t know where to start?
As a Life Coach I always start by asking ‘What is NOT working for you?’ and ‘What areas of your life are you least satisfied?’ It is an interesting approach to change, but first we must get in touch with what isn’t working before we can discover what we want. We are multi-dimensional beings that require an assessment of our relationships (especially the one with ourself and often our relationship with alcohol), our career or how we find purpose in life, our health & wellness, and something called time freedom; this is the amount of time and freedom we have to pursue the interests we have in life. These key areas play a big part in how we manage our stress and how fulfilled we feel in life. If you are anything like me, you are aware that overindulgence doesn’t lead to self respect which influences our self worth and our ability to receive Self Love, the core principle of Living Clean.
Mindful drinking can make room for real change—physically, mentally and financially—in a positive, proactive way, akin to any practice that supports wellbeing. Mindful drinking is about less judging and more encouraging for long-term results— just like we congratulate friends on losing weight while also believing in the tradition of eating birthday cake. My belief is that when we are clear about what we want to feel and start making changes that support that vision we begin to develop the self confidence that comes from saying no to things that allow us to say YES to ourselves. Mindful Drinking is a trend that continues to point upward and encourages circles of friends that are non-judgmental and supportive vs peer pressuring and shame ridden. Shame is at the heart of addiction. Release the shame by making yourself proud of the choices you are making that again, support how you want to feel. Mindful drinking promotes intentional betterment, particularly when it comes to health and wellness. Mindful drinking is the missing piece of the puzzle—and more and more people are discovering it. In fact, 39% of adults who drink alcohol say they have considered mindful drinking, but what is it? Mindful drinking is about adopting a new way of living that involves cutting back because you understand society’s previous brainwashing by Big Alcohol and you are ready to start living more consciously. This philosophy is at the heart of our company slogan Live Clean, Drink Dirty.
If you don’t know how detrimental alcohol is to health, take a look at the keynote presentation I did for NoLow Conference in London last year.
Replacing or cutting back on alcohol should feel as comfortable and normal as cutting calories or increasing your number of daily steps. Drinking alcohol has become so embedded in our culture that it can often times feel challenging.
Here are 14 ideas to navigate social situations when you’re starting to drink more mindfully or abstaining from alcohol completely:
- Prioritize yourSelf and your goals. Drink OR NOT on your own terms. This involves being clear about your goals, knowing how to say no, and setting yourself up for success by either having adult non-alcohol drink options available where you might go or stocking up with zero sugar probiotic mocktails that support your goals at home.
- Aim for small victories. Focusing on cutting back or abstaining during one event is doable. Focusing on a year’s worth of cutting back or abstaining will likely seem more challenging. Although you may have an overarching goal in mind, focus on small wins and the progress you make at each social event and even how you self soothe at home. Even cutting back one drink per gathering can add up to big wins over time. We need to get comfortable saying no to things that do not support our overall vision we have for our life. Like my grandma used to say ‘One step at a time.’
- Order drinks with half shots or check out the Mocktail Menu! Ask the bartender to make your drink with half the amount of alcohol (it’s like ordering a half-caf espresso drink), Order a mocktail or better yet—-get your local bar to stock your favorite adult non-alcoholic ‘ready to drink’ beverages you love! With mindful drinking on the rise, chances are you’re not the first person to make this request. Half shots are an easy way to reduce your alcohol intake if you are not completely abstaining while also allowing yourself to sip on cocktails twice as long. Being the gut health evangelist I am, I encourage you to keep all your drinks low sugar and low ABV (4% and under) in general and just commit to that instead. If you are doing our 21 Day Sugar Challenge that means zero alcohol.
- Alternate with water. This win-win solution helps with hydration and pacing. Reality: Alcohol kills good gut bacteria, robs us of HCL (hydrochloric acid which is essential for digestive wellness and glowing skin), antioxidants, and B & C vitamins—hence why alcohol ages us so much faster. Alcohol is a major contributor to dehydration—no facial creams can save face like proper hydration can. Make drinking half of your body weight in ounces a day a consistent, positive habit for yourself and always drinking a big glass of water between your drinks as you need even more than half of your body weight if drinking alcohol. Don’t forget to end your day with a couple extra glasses just to top things off…watch the weight melt off.
- Surround yourself with positivity. I call this ‘HIGH VIBES ONLY’ Its not spiritual by-passing…its spiritual digestion and choosing not to numb out any longer. Thus is what our 21 Day Challenge is all about—meeting a whole new community of like-minded folks who are on a similar mission for holistic health—mind, heart, and gut. If cutting back on alcohol or removing sugar (numbing agents), reach out to the friend who will want to join you for a morning walk or yoga session versus a boozy brunch. Physical activities such as hiking, biking, skiing or rollerskating are easy ways to socialize without a drink in hand….although I am known to have a Shrub-Bucha in hand while doing so! When at parties, out to eat, or cheering on your favorite team, sit next to those who simply don’t care what’s in your cup.
- Socialize mindfully. One of the best parts of mindful drinking is how it often leads to mindful engagement. When you look at socializing not so much as a reason to drink but more as a way to meaningfully connect with others, chances are you’ll leave social situations feeling far more fulfilled. Use cutting back as an opportunity to truly engage.
- Eat! Order an appetizer. Share a low sugar dessert. Nibble on a healthy snack. If you’re used to holding something in a bar and you’ve reached your drink limit (which can be zero too!)and hold a plate instead of a glass. Eating also can help break up drinking and keeps you from drinking too much on an empty stomach.
- Nurse your drink. Sip slowly and savor. It will last longer. Key word; Savor.
- Remember “new” is only new for a little while. Just like starting an exercise program or diet, cutting back on drinking can feel different because it’s new. But unlike many exercise programs and diets, mindful drinking is often just a series of small tweaks that have minimal day-to-day impact but provide maximum long-term results. Focus on all the positives this “new” normal will bring and remember that “new” will be “normal” soon enough. It’s absit what you decide to have not what you have decided not to have.
- Know that you are part of a movement. No matter the setting, chances are you’re not the only one tracking for better health and interested in adopting new ways of being that support your goals. Share your favorite non-alcohol drink brands with friends, stores, bars, and other venues you frequent and spread the cheer!
- Have a backup plan. Sometimes a few rounds of beers will turn into a few rounds of shots, which wasn’t part of your plan. This is when you need to be particularly mindful of social pressure. If the evening changes course or you realize the people you’re with have different drinking plans, allow yourself the freedom (and power) to call it a night or not going at all. This may mean leaving earlier than anticipated, with your nightcap being a cocktail of a warm bath, comfortable clothes, your couch and Netflix.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to if you stick to your plan. Maybe it’s a fancy coffee drink or a new book or a long bike ride on a new trail you’ve been wanting to try. This doesn’t need to be a forever thing but it’s a great in-the-beginning motivator. Often times we drink because we are looking for reward—Rewire your brain to reward yourself with things that support your goals in how you want to feel.
- Don’t give in to FOMO. As with many lifestyle changes, it can be hard to not to feel like you’re “missing out” when you’re cutting down or declining the offer of an alcoholic beverage. So, focus on what you’re gaining (greater clarity and control) and JOMO (joy of missing out).
- Enjoy the clarity. If you’re used to increasingly blurry evenings with fuzzy endings, pay attention to how you feel on the mornings you wake up after cutting back—no headache, no dry mouth, no bloat and inflammation, no light and sound sensitivity, no fatigue, no hangxiety. Instead you’re energized and you remember all the interesting little details of a fun night with family or friends. Capture this feeling and remember it. This is why you’re cutting back. This why you are Living Clean while Drinking Dirty. Celebrate these successes.
Here is to Mindfulness in general! May our new habits live longer than Dry January!
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