How To Overcome The Pressure of Drinking Over Christmas
Navigate the festive season with grace and self-care – uncover thoughtful insights and practical strategies to enjoy the holiday cheer without succumbing to societal expectations. Explore a mindful approach to celebrations, empowering you to make choices aligned with your wellbeing.
By Liv Surtees / Dec 21 2023
It’s the time of the year when alcohol, unfortunately, takes a very strong centre stage: it’s everywhere from TV commercials and ads to Instagram Reels and group chats.
As your social calendar gets more and more booked up, it’s easy to become anxious about the fact that for most of these occasions, there will likely be alcohol involved.
Whether you are fully sober, want to reduce your alcohol consumption, or simply don’t like alcohol, it can feel difficult to navigate your relationship with alcohol at this time of the year.
In this article, we’re going to provide you with actionable tips and advice that can help you overcome the pressure of drinking over the Christmas period, whatever social situation you find yourself in.
why is there more pressure to drink over christmas?
Consumption, in pretty much all forms, characterises the Christmas season, whether that means drinking more, eating more, shopping more, or buying excessive amounts of gifts for others.
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with the odd bit of consumption (everything in moderation), for some reason, in the UK we have a particularly unusual mindset when it comes to consuming alcohol.
Whether at Christmas or during the summer, alcohol almost always plays a big role in our time spent with family and friends.
Unlike other countries in Europe that seem to enjoy alcohol to enhance the experience that they’re already having, in the UK there’s a feeling that we not only seem to create social events that revolve around alcohol, but we also drink with the intention to get drunk.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that during celebrations and social gatherings around Christmas (especially since it’s a time of joy and increased socialisation), alcohol plays a big role.
the importance of watching alcohol consumption over christmas
Obviously, it’s always good to be mindful of your alcohol consumption, but during the winter and, in particular, during the festive season, it’s even more important to pay special attention to the relationship you have with alcohol.
From studies showing that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) may be a trigger to alcoholism to the fact that research shows people are likely to drink more in dark, cold climates, the relationship between winter and alcohol isn’t a positive one.
Additionally, the festive season can be a difficult time for a lot of people’s mental health and this year with a cost of living crisis in full swing, it’s not likely to get any easier. Reducing or ditching alcohol completely can help to support better mental health, with the opposite happening if you drink.
I’m not here to scare you into never drinking again if you’re someone that likes alcohol and has a good relationship with it.
But, what I am saying is that it’s an important time of the year to review and be mindful of your relationship with alcohol, just to make sure it doesn’t become detrimental to your health (mentally or physically).
different reasons for not drinking might require different approaches
Before we dive in and give you actionable tips for getting through the festive season without succumbing to the pressure of drinking, it’s important to note that different reasons for not drinking may require different approaches.
If you are someone that has a testing relationship with alcohol and is committed to staying sober, you will need to take more of a serious approach to avoiding alcohol during the Christmas period (especially if you are in the early days of being sober).
For example, you may need to avoid certain situations that trigger your relationship with alcohol or you may need to lean on a sober mentor more heavily during this time.
All of the tips and advice below will hopefully be useful to all, but please do be mindful that if you have a testing relationship with alcohol, seeking professional help, advice, and support at this time is a good idea.
what can you do to overcome the pressure of drinking over christmas?
use why you don't want to drink as motivation
The first thing you need to do is understand why you don’t want to drink and then hold that close to you as your motivation to stay strong and not get swayed by any kind of pressure.
Many people actually find it helpful to write a note with this reason on and keep it on them when they head out to situations where there may be alcohol involved.
be selective about the parties you attend
If you know that there are certain events you have been invited to which revolve purely around alcohol, it might be best to avoid them! There’s typically quite a lot going on at this time of the year and you don’t need to say yes to everything!
So, pick and choose which social situations you really want to attend and avoid those you think might make you feel pressured and uncomfortable.
suggest events that don't involve alcohol
There are tonnes of things you can do that don’t involve alcohol. So, take a look at some cool places to visit and fun things to do and invite your loved ones to those things with you!
Take back power by planning and scheduling non-alcohol-related activities ahead of time.
try to be transparent with those around you
If you can pluck up the courage to, tell those around you that you’re not drinking (or drinking less) at the moment so they know to respect your boundaries and not peer pressure you.
You don’t have to share the reason behind why you’re not drinking, but opening up to someone trusted can feel really good too!
have a "buddy"
Whether it’s a professional helping you stay sober or a friend that knows you want to drink less, having a trusted person by your side to share your concerns and triumphs with can make the world of difference: just make sure they’re fully committed to helping you and aren’t going to cross any boundaries you set!
take your own fun non-alcoholic drinks
There’s nothing worse than being at an evident with alcoholic drinks only to see the non-alcoholic drinks on the menu are fizzy drinks.
So, prepare ahead and take your own non-alcoholic drinks you love (brands like Punchy make particularly cool ones) to events or scope out certain non-alcoholic drinks you like and can ask for at bars.
be prepared to deal with intrusive thoughts
Sometimes the pressure can get to you and you might find yourself saying, “why not just one?” or “yeah, I’ll have another”. If you don’t want to be in this position, be aware right from the get-go that intrusive thoughts will likely pop into your head and that you have to notice them, think about your reasoning for not drinking (or drinking less) and move forward or reach out to others for support.
Even being self-aware that these thoughts may appear can help you better deal with them if they do.
Whether you want to head to a specific Christmas show, take a walk in your favourite neighbourhood in the snow, or buy yourself a Christmas present you’ve wanted for a while, remember to reward yourself for staying strong and celebrate the win of not succumbing to the pressure of drinking over Christmas!
If you or anyone else is dealing with an alcohol problem, please do reach out to a professional.
Additionally, as mental health has been mentioned in this article and this time of year can be tough for many, please remember the Samaritans are only ever a phone call away on 116 123.