How to have a Sober New Year

By Posted in Going Out

When your goal for the year ahead is to change your drinking or going on a diet, starting January 1st with a hangover is a killer. So how can you have a sober New Year?

Not only because you are inclined to stuff yourself full of extra calories, but because there is a bank holiday (at least here in the UK) on the 2nd, you may choose to postpone your New Year by another day. In which case the hair-of-the-dog then becomes a distinct possibility. You will also be feeling less energetic and not inclined to plan for the challenge ahead.

But lethargy and hangover-induced procrastination are not the only problems. Already, your inner critic will be taunting you for not being perfect, and having failed already. Hung over, it is hard to beat down that inner voice with logic. The duvet is only a temporary retreat.

But you can celebrate the new year without getting pissed. Honest!

You can kick start you new year with energy and gusto, and already feel chuffed because you have one of the hardest nights of the year navigated and under your belt. Here are our top tips for a sober New Year.

Reframe what ‘celebration’ means

If you really think about it, as a society we have a very narrow view of what celebration means. Getting pissed and sometimes doing that at a party is the extent of it. Throughout your changing relationship with alcohol, you will be continually asked to ‘celebrate’, so now is a great time to reframe what that means to you.

Celebration is about spending time with people. Whether that is colleagues and celebrating a triumph at work, or an intimate friend or lover celebrating a special occasion. Some of those celebrations may be quick or they may take hours or even a whole day. But they no longer involve doing something that makes me unhappy. Drinking made me unhappy and unhealthy. It can no longer be part of a tradition that is about happiness. So the alcohol-free drink in my hand is not a compromise. It helps me celebrate in the best way possible. By being present and enjoying company (until they are all wrecked at least). So a sober New Year is a celebration.

Celebration is also not about endurance. An occasion can be meaningful even if it lasts for 5 minutes. So don’t feel that you can only celebrate if you ‘stay the course’. You could use the fact you are not drinking to get in a car and party hop, or just go to a party at 10pm and leave not long after midnight. Personally I feel I can celebrate New Year without being present at midnight (because it does not really matter). I get to party, and also get a good night’s sleep to start my sober New Year with energy.

Celebration is a destination. We celebrate milestones, which often represent a journey. A piece of work, a pregnancy, a birthday. So a boozy party is not the only way to say well done – and is quite frankly lacking in originality. So why not have a “destination party”: a celebration at a place of your choosing. A warmer climate ? A night hike? Rent a cottage? Drive somewhere further away (after all you are not drinking). Sometimes, just leaving your typical environment and changing your routine lessens the stress of staying sober.

Celebration is about kindness to yourself. If you feel the plan you made is not going to be right for you, then change it. Apologise and explain to your friends, or ask them to join in a new idea with you. It is not like New Year won’t happen without you. There will be other New Years in the future. Ditch the fear of missing out, and try planning new moments of joy instead. Treat yourself with consent, and protect your sober New Year.

Focus on midnight

If the turning of the year is the focal point, then it is possible to have a very clear plan on how to get there. It may be going to a party late, or party hopping till you reach the final party. If you are moderating, you could decide to have your only drink at midnight, and only then. Whatever you do, make sure you drink plenty of water and have a full belly. Those are two ‘internal’ triggers’ that you can manage without too much trouble. So maybe go for a meal first, or cook something special at home.

You may also want to save something special for midnight, whilst everyone else is on the fizz. It could be a drink you have sourced specially, or a person to be with. It could be a food item you have made or kept aside for a special occasion. Or make sure you have a reward when you get home to celebrate sticking to your plan. An episode of your favourite box set, a long hot bath, whatever floats your boat…

Decide your resolutions before a sober New Year

If you have a clear idea about what you want to achieve in the new year, then not only writing it down but formulating your plan of attack will help. You are more likely to achieve your goal if you plan it, and you are more likely to stick to your sober New Year’s Eve ambitions if you have a plan.

Sober New Year

Your plan will help you get ready to change your drinking in 2017 – whether you are planning a sober sprint or to drink more mindfully. If you are tempted to break your plan on New Year’s Eve you can ask yourself:

“Will this take me further away from my goal or closer to it?”

This is the real prize. Being able to wake up and start the year as you mean to go on. If you have a plan for your New Year’s Day too, you will be less likely to do things the night before that will scupper it. So pin down your plan. It can include steps towards your goal and rewards for getting started.

Personally, I have some big fitness and relationship goals. I will be spending New Year’s Day working on finding keystone habits to get me motivated, and planning the activities that will take me closer to, rather than further way from my goals.


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