Sober holidays are another first that can make you anxious and worried. Not a surprise, if your holiday itinerary had traditionally been cocktails from lunchtime on the beach and wine with dinner, followed by a late night in the bar, then there are a whole host of expectations and traditions to navigate and unpick. Was your last holiday really a rest? Have you got into a rut?
Generally, when Brits are asked about their alcohol consumption, they never include special occasions and what they drink on holiday. On average we drink three times more than normal. And for most of us normal is already a lot!
The question you have to ask yourself is: what are your holidays really? Have they become just an excuse to drink more? Because it was a holiday, did your drinking not count? Was it the one time you could justify your big binges without feeling guilt? Was it really a rest?
Even if you can answer no to all those questions, it may be that you did not actually come back rested after your holiday. Drinking 5 days a week can leave you tired and lethargic and in need of a ‘real’ holiday.
So how do you have a sober holiday?
Make rest and resilience the name of the game. Investing time in recovering from a hard few weeks at work or the daily grind is what makes you more resilient to stress in the long term – not beer! The quality of the time you take to rest is important.
Your holiday away from the daily norm is a great opportunity to take some time for self-care; more reading, walking, yoga, sleep, long baths, cool swims, meditation, eating well. Whatever floats your boat. Make it part of your planning. Get excited about the time you will have to lavish on you. Feel content about having a holiday where coming back to work does not feel like the break. See a sober holiday as a gift.
Whether you are planning to mostly sit by the pool or so something more active, planning is part of the fun. New options open up when you know you will always be up feeling fresh, or that you can hire a car and drive. If you are with family, you can even sneak in some time by yourself. Start looking at the weird and wonderful things that are going on in the area. From interesting shops to activities and walks. You have more time now to put some effort into planning a little more. Book some new things, but also leave some time for impromptu mini-adventures if the moment takes you.
Whether you are going with friends or family, it will be easier if everyone knows that you are planning this as a sober holiday. You want to shake up the status quo. Let people know things have changed. You can reassure them that you are not planning to ruin their boozy fun, but that if any of them want to join you on a few mini adventures on the trip, then you are up for leading the charge. There is no rule that says that you have to stick as a group throughout the holiday. Maybe plan small trips within your holiday to spend one-to-one time with friends or children. Engage them in the planning, so even they would not want to miss this for the sake of another tequila around the pool.
If you know a large part of your holiday is going to involve doing many of the same activities you did in previous years (like lounging at the pool), then work out how you are going to replace the alcohol you used to consume. You already know the lie of the land. Think through new drinks you will order, and plan things to do. You may find that often when you thought you were ‘resting’ with a drink, you were really drinking to deal with the boredom. Don’t be bored!
In Ibiza I don’t think there was a health food store I did not go into. I tried everything. The internet makes it much easier to find the addresses of health food shops and different supermarkets, and where they are on your walking routes. Find local juices, fruit punches, bitters and other concoctions to try – and if all else fails, sneak your own drink to your bag on a night out. I went clubbing with cartons of Rebel Iced chocolate drink in my bag 🙂
You don’t have to white-knuckle it on your own. The things that have been helping you day-to-day are important to keep in your routine on a sober holiday too. Take some books on your Kindle. Check in to support groups like Club Soda. Take some time to plan your day ahead, or do a WOOP. Holidays are about taking a break, but that does not mean ditching the things that are important to you – like your sobriety goals.
If much of your holiday is about keeping family members or others happy, or that you think the first sober holiday may be a bit stressful, then plan a few extra days at the end of the holiday just for you. That may mean doing something close to home, staying on at your destination a few days longer, or some post-holiday nights out. Make it something that you will look forward to, and use it as a reward for ticking another ‘sober first’ off your list!