If your social life revolves around alcohol, you might find it a bit hard to become more mindful of your drinking — especially if your friends aren’t on board.
Maybe you’re used to having after-work drinks or spending Saturday nights out at a bar with friends, drinking the night away. Changing that dynamic and speaking up might feel scary. But luckily, you don’t have to isolate yourself to drink less. Mindful drinking takes time, patience, and communication (and maybe trying a few new social activities, too).
Of course, setting new boundaries and communicating them with friends isn’t always going to go according to plan. You might get a ton of support, or you might be met with eye rolls and even more pressure to drink. Some people might feel unconsciously threatened or insecure when you voice your decision. They might be worried that you’ll change and leave them behind, or perhaps they’re not ready to change their drinking habits and don’t want the reminder.
With these steps, though, you can lean into mindful drinking feeling more confident and secure that you can handle whatever comes your way.
1) Get Confident With Your Choice
It all starts with you.
Confidence isn’t just a feeling; it’s a decision to stay true to yourself, even under difficult circumstances. When you stand strong in your choice to be more mindful, you can follow through with the rest of these steps more easily.
Take some time to think about your “why”. Why do you want to drink more mindfully? Create an image or mantra in your mind and use that as your driver and reminder.
2) Set Realistic Goals
We are wired to struggle with change, and when we stumble, our inner critic often comes out. It’s so easy to feel disappointed and beat ourselves up, but when we add guilt and shame our self-esteem is affected — making it even harder to try again.
When our goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), we have a higher chance of following through and not “failing”. This is also why learning how to speak to yourself compassionately is so important; we tend to misunderstand missteps and consider them failures instead of an opportunity to learn, reassess, and grow.
So if you keep making the same goals but struggle to follow through, it’s not because of willpower, it’s because the goals aren’t realistic or manageable.
For example, you can choose to focus on hydration more by alternating drinks with water with friends rather than going cold turkey. Or simply observe and track what you typically drink while you’re out with friends to see what could be a reasonable goal for next time.
3) Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries isn’t about restricting yourself; it’s about empowering yourself to have the experience and outcome you want.
Deciding your limits ahead of time helps you have a clear vision of how you’d like the evening to go, making it easier to stick to your goals. Plus, if you understand what makes you uncomfortable or what conflicts with your goals, you can preemptively avoid those situations.
So before you head out to meet friends, make a decision for your goals and plan for any obstacles that might come your way. That could mean planning to leave early, bringing non-alcoholic drinks, or a water bottle to alternate throughout the night and stay hydrated.
4) Express Yourself Clearly
Communication is key, and it doesn’t have to be confrontational. It’s about being honest, with statements like “I feel” or “I want” to own your choices.
Clearly expressing your goals, reasons, or boundaries can help others understand your choices. It can also make them much more aware of supporting you, rather than unknowingly putting pressure on you to drink.
You can also think about telling a trusted friend so they can support you to stick to your goals when you’re out in group settings.
5) Suggest Alcohol-Free Activities
If you mostly drink with friends, see what else you all might enjoy doing that doesn’t involve alcohol. Here’s a list of some activities we always think about trying and rarely get around to:
- Go for a hike on a Saturday
- That also means that Friday night you can’t drink much since you don’t want to be hungover for the hike. And by Saturday night you’ll be tired and satiated from a relaxing day in nature that you likely won’t want to go out and drink. Then, you’ve got a relaxing non-hungover Sunday to look forward to.
- Suggest playing sports together
- That could be a soccer team or even just playing paddle, tennis,bocce ball, with friends on the weekend.
- Ask friends to join you for a new hobby or class
- Dance, fitness, art, photography, pottery, language, cooking, baking, book club, etc.
- Make regular move nights
- Host a DIY craft event (building, knitting,
- Try a board games night with a new board game every week
- Have pot-lucks (focus on the food)
- Plan weekend picnics in the park or nearby nature
- Take evening walks in the park to wind down after work
- Think about a volunteering community that you want to be a part of and invite friends (or create your own volunteer group)
6) Find Other Friends
Ok, maybe that sounds harsh. Obviously, you don’t have to give up contact completely if you don’t want to. But, maybe think about expanding your circle and make new friends as well. That way, you don’t have to depend on just one group of friends that may have unhealthy drinking habits. You’ll be exposed to new people, new activities (that might turn into fun hobbies), and maybe you’ll see how much easier it can be to enjoy socializing without alcohol.
How Sunnyside Can Help
Sunnyside is here to support you with obstacles you face as you become more mindful of your drinking habits. With a community and one to one support from coaches, you can get personalized feedback on how to navigate drinking mindfully in social situations.
And with reminders and notifications, you can also use the app to help you stay true to your intentions (and learn how to take it easy so you don’t beat yourself up). After all, change takes time, patience, and self-compassion so you can view missteps as an opportunity to continue to learn, instead of giving up.
With Sunnyside’s tracking, personalized goal setting, and support from coaches, you get the tools you need to become more mindful of your drinking — even if you’re feeling pressure from the outside world.