Five Top Tips For Staying Lucid
By Lauren Burnison
Deciding to ditch the booze is one of the biggest decisions you will probably make in your life. It is potentially one of the most daunting but rewarding journeys you’ll ever embark on. Once you get a taste of life without booze, you will wonder why you used to even do it in the first place. That being said, many people struggle with the idea of kicking the liquor for good. The reasons are often related to socializing and wondering what the heck they are going to do if they don’t drink. I can relate to this as I used to feel the same way. The key is changing your mindset. This invariably doesn’t happen overnight, however, there are several steps you can take to make this transition smoother.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a supportive community of people around you who either don’t drink or are happy to hang out with you doing AF (alcohol-free) activities. This could be in the form of an online community, a support group or just friends that don’t drink or that aren’t all about the booze. You might find that people who you thought were your friends, don’t want to hang out with you any more if there is no booze involved. This is something that you have to accept and understand that the decision to quit is worth more than these “friendships”, which revolve around boozing. Real friends will still want to spend time with you regardless of whether you drink or not. Seek out new friendships with people who will support your new lifestyle. Once you start to intentionally live an alcohol-free life, you will attract these types of people in to your life. After quitting alcohol, I was amazed at the number of people out there whose lives didn’t revolve around partying. I started to make friends through Meetup groups and organized trips who I forged meaningful connections with and with whom I am still in contact with today. This is something that never would have happened before quitting. Back then I attracted others like me with destructive habits that they couldn’t control.
There are many resources available nowadays which help you to connect with other alcohol-free people. Online communities are a great way to chat with others who are going through a similar experience. The great thing is you can log on from wherever you are making it super convenient and easily accessible. Recovery Elevator is an awesome online platform bringing together like-minded individuals particularly in early sobriety, who seek a better life without alcohol through support and accountability. You also get access to useful and inspiring podcasts as well as other resources to help you on your alcohol-free journey. Another great resource for connecting with others in the alcohol-free community is Meetup.com. In many cities around the world there are alcohol-free meet-ups where socializing is done without the booze. They organize cultural events, dinners, coffee dates etc. If you find that there are no AF Meetups In your town, why not start your own? It’s straight forward and you’d be surprised how many people sign up!
2. Try new things
3. Have a strategy for socializing
For many people, one of the biggest hurdles when stopping drinking is the thought of socializing without booze. Once you realize that there are a whole world of alcohol-free activities and people out there, the desire to hit the bars frequently won’t resonate that much with you anymore. However, in the meantime the best way to deal with social situations as a non-drinker is to have a strategy. People will inevitably be curious as to why you aren’t drinking. This is just something that you’ll have to get used to. There are several ways you can respond depending on the person who is asking and the context. During early sobriety I often felt the need to over-divulge about my relationship with alcohol, often resulting in a case of TMI (too much information). Now I realise that this was just part of the healing process. It has been almost three years and I don’t feel the need to go in to details so much anymore. Some people simply respond by saying that they don’t like alcohol, or it doesn’t agree with them. The important thing is not to take people’s reactions personally. It used to really bother me when people said things like, “go on, just have one”. I felt like saying, “Do you really want to see what happens if I just have one?”. I felt that they were being insensitive and flippant. But, at the end of the day, they don’t know anything about my experience with alcohol and most of the time, a person’s reaction to me not drinking says more about them than me.
You might also want to have a plan for getting out of a social situation which is about the turn gnarly. And by that, I mean, a serious piss-up is going down and you are losing a grip on your ability to say no. This is when it is particularly beneficial to have someone who you can call or at least have an excuse for getting out of the situation. The more you practice saying no, the easier it gets, until it becomes completely normal. Eventually, people (that you know) stop asking you about it and you just don’t think about it anymore. Trust me. It really is like that.
Lauren is a passionate linguist, traveler and owner of We Love Lucid. Although brought up in Ireland, Lauren has spent time living all over the world. After giving up the party lifestyle in 2016, Lauren was inspired to create her own travel company, offering alcohol-free adventure and culture trips. Her mission is to connect people in pursuit of unforgettable travel experiences minus the booze. Now, she lives in the beautiful mountains of southern Spain where she spends her time kayaking, horse-riding and experimenting in the kitchen.
Our mission at We Love Lucid- alcohol-free trips is to connect people who don’t drink through unique and unforgettable travel experiences. We have intentionally kept our groups small, with only 8 people, so that you really get to know the other travelers on the trip. This is another brilliant way to grow your circle of friends. Personally, I have found that the friendships I made through sober travel were more meaningful and longer lasting. This is partly because you experience something new and exciting together plus you create amazing memories about the trips together. Try it! You’ll see.
Something that really helped me after giving up booze was trying new things and taking up hobbies that I used to love before the booze took over. This can be anything from a new sport or outdoor activity, learning a musical instrument, travel, learning a foreign language to finding ways to express your creativity. When I quit drinking, I bought a bike and explored Seoul and Korea. I hadn’t owned a bike since childhood and so was pretty much a novice. During my vacation I planned a cycling trip along part of the east coast of Korea. I took off with a tent and Naver Maps (Korean equivalent of Google Maps) on an epic adventure that I will never forget. Every day I would wake up and the adventure would begin all over again. Part of the excitement was not knowing what was in store for me that day. I loved the challenge of the steep hill climbs contrasting with the adrenaline rush of the super-fast descents. It was one of the most liberating and invigorating experiences I’ve ever had. Of course, not everyone is in to adventure sports. Whatever hobby you choose to get in to, it will give you the added benefit of a confidence boost. Trying something new can often mean pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. This gives you a sense of accomplishment and is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.
On We Love Lucid – alcohol-free trips, we wholeheartedly embrace this philosophy. All our activities are designed for people with no prior experience. Although our trips are quite active (some more than others) and a general level of fitness is required, you don’t need to be an experienced hiker or know how to cook to take part. We encourage people to try activities that they have never done before and to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Let’s be honest, we’re not climbing Everest here! (Well, not yet anyway!) Trying new experiences together bond people, helping to create meaningful connections among fellow travelers. On top of that, you might discover a new hobby that you decide to continue when you go back home!
Nowadays, there are some highly innovative and creative projects going on in the alcohol-free community. Horizon, based in Brighton in the UK, run media workshops such as photography, film-making, web-design and creative writing for those in recovery. The best thing is that it’s free! This is just one example of the ever-expanding list of alcohol-free options available for non-drinkers.
4. Look deeper
There’s no doubt that stopping drinking is a life-changing event in itself. However, failing to reflect on the reasons why your drinking got so out of control in the first place could lead to the development of other compulsive behaviors.. After all, developing harmful drinking habits is usually a coping mechanism adapted to deal with emotional pain. It is important that we think about what caused that pain in the first place and learn to process it from a place of acceptance and compassion. Once we become aware of why we act the way we do, it becomes easier to learn to respond differently to emotional triggers. Drinking and taking drugs meant I could be someone else. I didn’t like who I was and therefore I used alcohol and drugs as way to mask the discomfort. It was only when I stopped drinking, I could rediscover who I really was after so many years of covering it up. I came to the conclusion that I am absolutely fine the way I am, flaws and all. This kind of self-inquiry can be raw and uncomfortable but is necessary in order for us to grow. There are limitless “self-help” books and online resources that can help you to understand yourself a little better and to help change negative habits. Of course, there are cases where you might need to seek professional help to process traumatic events in your life. In order to fully reap the benefits of alcohol-free living, we need to completely overhaul our thought patterns and attitude towards life. This is a lifelong process, but the rewards are indescribable.
5. Take one day at a time
Last but certainly not least, make sure you take one day at a time. After quitting drinking, the thought of lifelong sobriety in its entirety can be utterly overwhelming. Take baby steps, especially at the beginning. Start of by getting through the day, then the month, then the year. Next thing you know, you are getting on with life and alcohol ceases to come in to the equation. This theory applies to almost any goal you set, whether they be career goals, financial or spiritual goals. The journey itself is just as important as the end goal. Its a continuous learning experience. Just relax and you will see that everything will naturally fall in to place. Take time out for yourself to quiet the mind, eat nourishing food and nurture the body. Taking little steps like this help us to live in the present and not overthink and worry about the future.