Coping with drinking triggers during summer: Julia's top tips

Julia | June 2021 | 8 minutes

In this blog, author Julia shares her top tips for coping with those sunny-weather drinking temptations.

Summer is almost here and we’re welcoming the warmer weather, longer days and easing restrictions with open arms. Halle-flipping-lujah, I think we can all agree. But this also presents challenges to those of us who have changed our relationship with alcohol (whether that’s just for Sober Spring, or longer), which we have been able to dodge until now. Here are my tips for navigating some common triggers and keeping yourself feeling positive through the coming months.

Say yes (and no) to things

You can still have a social life without alcohol. Saying no to everything is not the answer, especially after the isolation of the past year. The important thing is to be discriminate about what you say yes to. Think about the other aspects of the event (for example food, good company, music) – if these appeal to you, go for it! See it as an experiment – you’ve committed to a break from alcohol and part of that is discovering what socialising feels like without it. An important caveat though – if you know in your heart of hearts that you won’t be able to resist drinking at a particular event, it might be better to send your apologies. Don’t make things harder for yourself.

"Alcohol drinkers do not have the monopoly on tasty beverages."

Get the drinks in

Stay hydrated. I was blown away in my early sobriety by how often thirst was interpreted by my errant brain as alcohol cravings. Whenever you feel cravings coming on, drink a big glass of water first and then see how you feel. And if you feel meh at the prospect of drinking just water all summer, don’t forget that alcohol drinkers do not have the monopoly on tasty beverages. The alcohol-free drinks market has just exploded in the last five years. If you find the substitute drinks like alcohol-free beer or gin just make you crave the boozy version, there are also so many lovely flavoured tonics and sodas out there.

Head peer pressure off at the pass

Perhaps you have an event planned with friends this summer – a holiday, a festival, a weekend away camping – and you’re worried that you’ll be put under pressure to drink. It’s hard for our drinking buddies when we quit or take a break. Not only have they lost a drinking partner but your choice to step back from alcohol also shines a light on their own drinking behaviour, and they may not like what they see. This may lead them to pressure you to drink. The best way to deal with this is to positively market your decision not to drink to people. Taking a break from alcohol is a hugely life-affirming thing to do. Take pride in it and tell people that the lack of hangovers feels great and that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on a single thing. It’s harder for people to take the “oh, you could just have one” tack when you’re saying how brilliant it feels to have none.

"Keep that water bottle close at hand, select social events you truly want to attend and get out there and enjoy being reunited with your favourite people in the sunshine. No alcohol required."

Fight the FOMO

Lastly, be mindful of FOMO (fear of missing out) and apply some logical thinking to counteract it. It can be tempting as people come out of hibernation to think that everyone else is off having a brilliant time without you. Pub beer gardens always seem to be heaving. Social media is full of afternoon beers in the garden. But it’s quite simply not true. Everyone is living lives which are more or less like yours – they work, they shop, they parent. They clean the toilet and do the washing up. Very occasionally, they get to kick back for a few hours with friends or family and if they drink while they do this, they’ll probably feel it the next day. That’s all. Fight that FOMO.

Don’t fear the coming of the warmer weather and the easing of restrictions. Prioritise your decision to drink less or not at all, because it’s one of the best gifts you will ever give your body, mind and soul. Keep that water bottle close at hand, select social events you truly want to attend and get out there and enjoy being reunited with your favourite people in the sunshine. No alcohol required.

Julia is the author of Sober Positive, available on Amazon in paperback and e-book here.