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What is sober curious?

What is sober curious?

Sober curious

Did you dive into Dry January to start your year? Maybe it was more ‘damp’ than dry? Or was giving up alcohol (or at least cutting down) little more than a fleeting thought during that weird time between Christmas and New Year?

Wherever you are on this scale, we can all question our relationship with alcohol from time to time and there are lots of reasons why we might.

For some it’s the ‘hangxiety’ that’s simply too much to bear. For others it’s the impact alcohol has on our bodies and our mind, where one heavy night can set the wrong tone for the week ahead.

Your motivation is always going to be personal to you, and for some of us it might be a little uncomfortable to recognise.

Targeted months of the year like ‘Dry January’ and ‘Sober October’ are a fantastic (and popular) way of prompting people to dial down their drinking for a while.

However, these months don’t necessarily ask us to think about our alcohol use once we flip the calendar and many of us end up going back to old habits.

With that in mind, there’s a bigger shift happening both nationally and globally - with more and more people starting to look inward and becoming more mindful about their drinking.

This movement is called ‘sober curious’ and is exactly what it says on the tin; a curiosity towards the role that alcohol plays in our lives.

Being sober curious isn’t necessarily about giving up alcohol altogether. Instead, it’s about implementing small habits to reduce or moderate our overall alcohol consumption.

You could see it as the middle ground between moderate drinking and a teetotal lifestyle, which for many is the end goal.

In order to avoid disappointment in the event of ‘failing’ to stop drinking altogether, sober curious is becoming a popular starting point.

If you’re curious about becoming ‘curious’ but wondering where you should start, here are a few little tips....

What is your relationship with alcohol?

A good first step is to write down the reasons why you’re looking at alcohol and the role it plays in your life. Ask yourself ‘When do I drink?’ and ‘Why do I drink?’ Is it to feel more comfortable in social settings, or does it help you deal with stress? Maybe you have a social life that heavily revolves around drinking.

Note how alcohol makes you feel, whether that be in the moment or in the days after. What do you notice? If you attempted Dry January last month, how did it go? Did you struggle with anything in particular?

Putting pen to paper can really help us make sense of the part alcohol plays in our day-to-day lives, while our previous experiences with reducing consumption can point us in a clearer direction towards our next steps.

Make a plan of action

What is it you want to achieve? Is it to limit your drinks on social occasions, to cut your alcohol intake down during the week, or to give yourself a set break for a period of time?

Be mindful of occasions that are coming up. Is there a wedding, birthday or holiday marked on your calendar? Let’s be realistic, there’s always going to be something around the corner and you don’t have to miss out – just make sure to prioritise what’s important to you and set yourself achievable goals. Otherwise it’s not going to be sustainable.

Do what’s right for you

On social occasions we may feel the playful pressure from friends and family to ‘just have another one’. We may even be greeted with an alarmed reaction when we tell someone we’re not drinking.

Sound familiar? Just remember why it is that you’ve decided to give yourself a 2-3 drink limit or decided to drink none at all. This will help keep you on track.

You don’t need to justify your drinking choices to anybody and remember that, if you are feeling the pressure, you can always remove yourself from the situation or take a break somewhere private where you can be alone for a moment and gather your thoughts.

Do something different

More often than not there are now ‘low and no’ options on drinks menus offering a range of alcohol-free alternatives which can satisfy our cravings and/or make us feel more included at a social occasion.

These drinks are usually served up exactly the same as their alcoholic counterparts and usually you can’t tell the difference. Explore the different options and make it your mission to find your favourite flavour.

If you’re arranging a night out with friends, do your research beforehand so you know there’ll be something on the menu you’ll enjoy without having the hangover the next day.

Discover sober activities

Being sober curious is the perfect time to discover activities with likeminded individuals that don’t involve alcohol.

Whether it’s a physical activity or sport, a new creative hobby, or a hunt to find which local café serves the best breakfast, make time to do things you may not normally do (or perhaps wouldn’t have the money to do) if you were drinking.

Sober curious is a choice for those who are able to make it. If you feel you may need more dedicated support with alcohol and advice on reducing your intake , you can get support from our Be Well health advisors.

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Posted on Wednesday 31st January 2024

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