Planning a sober night out, it can be hard right? We set off with certain intentions, and it all sort of backfires. Either we end up drinking when we initially wanted not to, or we spend the evening bargaining with ourselves on how much to drink, just to drink more than we intended… If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years, is that with a good plan, you decrease the possibilities of not succeeding in your goals. We are all too familiar with the, “oh go on, it’s just one” or “when did you get boring?” It’s sometimes enough to make the difference between a sober(ish) night and a drunken one.
In the build up to Christmas and the increased sociability of this time of year, we thought it a good time to revisit some of our top tips for a sober night, to guarantee you wake up with no regrets:
Before you decide to go, ask yourself why you’re going. If it’s just another after work pub gathering, do you really want to go? What would you gain from going versus heading home and doing some things for you? Eating a hearty meal, or getting crafty, running a warm bath, or calling a loved one to catch up. We’re so caught up in our fear of missing out sometimes, we don’t realise that actually there’s not really that much to be missed out on in the first place…
The Club Soda community on Facebook is an incredibly supportive space, and you’ll find that someone is always online to respond to you, be it an admin or another member. Checking in before and after helps to solidify your resolve, and create some sort of accountability to yourself.
If you live in an area where you need to get there by car, volunteering to be designated driver can help you both stick to your goals and give you an excuse to give to people if you’re feeling the pressure.
It’s often in the first few moments of arriving at a social gathering, that we can feel at our most wobbliest in resolve. I know my own weakness is that first drink, should I say yes or no? While it’s often the hardest part, once I can turn down the first drink I find it easier to turn down the rest. While you can be open as you wish about your choices to not drink, some people do want to keep it private, so thinking about what you’re going to say when people inquire why you’re not drinking is a good thing to keep in mind so you feel ready and not side lined by the questions.
Set some reminders on your phone to go off every 30 mins of what you have planned for the next day, or things you enjoy doing without a hangover. Or when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed go to the bathroom and write down in your phone notes what you’re feeling. With alcohol, it’s helpful to project into tomorrow, all the things we want to get done or enjoy with a fresh head.
If you’ve gone out with a buddy, or your have a friend you can call or text, let them know how you’re feeling. Even if they don’t respond right away, the act of writing and off loading those emotions will help take the edge off things.
Have a little look beforehand at the venue’s drink list which can often be found online. They may have an exciting mocktail list to treat yourself to or some tasty AF drinks. If not, plan a bit ahead by bringing a small bottle of cordial, like Laura does, and mix it with some tap water or fizzy water from the bar. If you get quizzed by the bar staff, explain that they don’t have a wide enough range of AF drinks! And maybe point them in the direction of the Club Soda Nudging Pubs project.
Know when you’re ready to go home. Paying attention to how you’re feeling as the night progresses, means you’ll get a sense of when the party is done for you – maybe it’s just a bit too loud now, or you’ve had the same conversation with Martia in Comms three times. Be mindful that some people might tease you to stay or on your choice to leave but try not to take it to heart! Often, it’s not really about you leaving, but how the other feels about their own decision to stay. Simply say that you need to get some beauty sleep, or crack a joke about turning into a pumpkin come 12 pm, jokes help to take the edge off a conversation that can often feel a bit uncomfortable.
Having a little treat for us waiting at home can often be a great incentive to staying true to our initial goals. Also, spend a minute calculating how much you saved in not drinking vs. what you used to drink, and set the money aside for a treat the following day, or start accumulating this to treat yourself to a bigger treat when you hit personal milestones; a week, a month, three…. Finally, check back in with the Club Soda community to let them know how you got on!