The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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Image: Woman in Santa hat asleep on her laptop holding a bottle of wine. How can I drink less this Christmas?

How can I drink less this Christmas?

If you want to drink less this Christmas, or if you wish your festive season to be completely alcohol-free, you’re going to need a plan. The holiday season is a booze-soaked as a Christmas pudding, and avoiding alcohol during the darkest months can feel like an impossible challenge.

But a hangover-free midwinter celebration is possible. And drinking less this Christmas could actually make it better.

What do you want for Christmas?

I’m a child of the 70s and the music of Andy Williams looms large in my festive memories. I firmly believe him when he says it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

But my Christmas memories are unhappy too. My mum died when I was nine years old, and it changed my experience of the holidays forever. My family moved overseas in the wake of her death, and I remember being in floods of tears on 25 December because there were no familiar shows on the TV. In that moment, my sadness at mum’s loss and my yearning for a merry Christmas were inextricably bound together. Every year, I approach the festive season with eyes full of wonder and a heart full of grief.

I know that Christmas can never live up to my expectations or bring back my mum. But every December, I try again. I love Christmas because I need it to be a wonderful time.

Why tell you this? Because I want to make a simple point: Christmas is complicated.

You might have gifts under your tree rather than emotional baggage. But Christmas is a time of the year that evokes strong feelings in all of us. Love it or hate it, the festive season is a time of heightened emotions, conflicted thoughts and simmering tensions. Adding alcohol into the mix can be explosive. With enforced confinement in the house and a truckload of booze, it’s hardly surprising that our hopes for a merry Christmas can descend into drunken misery and family conflict.

The festive season is a time of heightened emotions, conflicted thoughts and simmering tensions. Adding alcohol into the mix can be explosive.

So as you approach the holidays, ask yourself what you want for Christmas this year. Even if your festivities have always centred on alcohol, you can do things differently. You certainly don’t have to spend the day drinking, and there are alternative ways to enjoy Christmas Day.

A clear and realistic image of your ideal festivities will put your decisions about alcohol into a bigger context. And that will help you make a plan you can stick to.

Making a plan to drink less this Christmas

Take it from someone’s who has been there. If you start drinking at breakfast time, you’re not going to get through the day unscathed. You are kidding yourself if you imagine that you can drink all day and not get drunk. So if you want to consume less alcohol this Christmas or avoid it altogether, you’re going to need to do things differently.

Making your plan to drink less this Christmas starts with understanding what will happen during the holidays. It’s helpful to open your calendar and start making notes. Pay attention to the basics:

  • Where will you be during the holidays?
  • When are events scheduled to happen?
  • Who will be there, or not?
  • What will you be doing?

Answering these questions will help you to become more mindful about your triggers for drinking. Once you’ve noticed the situations that make drinking feel inevitable, you can start to make plans to act differently.

One of the easiest ways to drink less this Christmas is to swap for low and no alcohol alternatives. There are many great alcohol-free drinks for Christmas, including alcohol-free Baileys you can make at home. And don’t rule out the possibility that the easiest way to get through the holidays might be to cut out drinking completely, rather than cut down.

Remember, drinking alcohol is never compulsory. Even if your family and friends are big drinkers, it’s OK to say no if you don’t want to consume alcohol with them. Some people even give up drinking on Christmas Day itself.

When you think about Christmas drinking, you may plan for parties and social occasions. But plans are just as important if you are spending time on your own. After all, almost one in ten people are alone on Christmas Day, and you will have moments when you are by yourself. Feeling lonely can be a trigger for drinking, but you can handle your big emotions and relax without drinking alcohol. And online communities like Club Soda can help to alleviate feelings of isolation.

Support to drink less this Christmas

If you intend to drink less this Christmas, or you plan to go through the holidays alcohol-free, Club Soda has a seasonal coaching programme designed to support you. Kicking off at the end of November, Christmas with Club Soda takes you step-by-step through the holidays all the way to the New Year.

Christmas with Club Soda gives you the tools, techniques and tips to make a success of the holiday season. The course will help you map out the holiday season and plan moments to look forward to. You will rethink your Christmas traditions, motivate yourself with rewards and learn how to navigate social and family pressures. And we’ll share lots of tips and ideas for delicious festive drinks that are alcohol-free.

Like all of Club Soda’s in-depth courses, we’ll also invite you to join our private group on Telegram, so you can chat with others in the Club Soda community at any time. And you’ll get invitations to our regular Breathing Space mindfulness meditation group.

You can drink less this Christmas, and Club Soda will be with you every step of the way. Sign up for Christmas with Club Soda today.

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