Drinking plays a huge role in Australian culture, it can be hard to think of a social occasion, work celebration or wedding that hasn’t included alcohol. While a drink here and there is ok, alcohol can significantly affect your mood and overall wellbeing.
The good news, is there are dozens of ways to enjoy social events, without touching an alcoholic drink.
If you’re looking to reduce your alcohol intake or maybe even completely quit, here are some new ideas to help you maintain a thriving social life and stay connected with loved ones and friends.
Perhaps the easiest way to stop drinking is to take alcohol off the table — if it’s not part of the meal, that’s easy. Meeting friends for breakfast or brunch means you can enjoy a delicious meal, great coffee and conversation whilst still getting out and about.
This tip can be tried at home with a home-cooked meal or out at a venue you’ve researched in advance. As alcohol-free beverages rise in popularity, you can source zero-alcohol alternatives online, from some of your favourite wineries and even in your local bottle shop.
In many cities or towns in Australia there’s even alcohol free venues you can attend — but if you are at a regular hangout and there’s alcohol, just ask for the alcohol-free options.
Knowing that you can still enjoy a delicious sparkling beverage (without the downsides!) has the added perk of being able to safely drive home — saving you an Uber or taxi fare as a bonus!
Hitting that step count can be difficult when you’ve been in lockdown or you’re working in an office job, so why not do double-duty in your social time and walk while you talk? Moving during a catch up can help to break any tension or anxiety we sometimes feel in groups or in conversation, helping the banter to flow while getting your blood flowing too.
Rather than meeting in a pub or bar, why not try a new experience with friends? Turn your social catch up into an opportunity to learn a new skill, take a class or explore a local park. Getting out of routine can be stimulating, inspiring, and help you rediscover your creative flow.
Sometimes you can’t avoid an alcohol-filled occasion, but you can be creative with how you maximise your time at the event. If you have to attend a work function, networking event or a social occasion where it may be hard to avoid being offered a drink, there’s a few ways you can still enjoy the occasion, without feeling anxiety around the need to drink. You could start by aiming to get there early, and committing to stay for an hour. This gives you a chance to mingle and enjoy some conversations, then see how you’re feeling at the end of the hour.
A great way to meet new people without a drink in hand, is by volunteering at a local organisation that aligns with your values. Choose something you care about, whether it’s a Park Run, helping out at a community centre, community garden or your local RSPCA, you’ll easily meet new people with similar values — a much higher strike rate than at your local pub!
Choosing not to drink may seem daunting at first but the longer you stick with it, the more natural it will become. Plus your body will thank you - the benefits of being alcohol free include improved mental health, better sleep, reduced inflammation throughout your body and increased energy!