Alcohol can be a major part of a person’s social life. Though the number of Americans who drink rose during the pandemic, the sober curious movement has grown in popularity among younger people, particularly Gen Z (those 21 and over, of course). With this shifting view on alcohol, it’s only fair that people who are sober — or sober curious — are looking for tips to navigate the holiday season when alcohol is involved.
“The Gen Z culture seems to be more interested in sobriety than their millennial counterparts. With all of the trends around sober curiosity, sobriety is more acceptable than ever,” Dr. Brooke Scheller, a doctor of clinical nutrition and certified nutrition specialist, previously told Her Campus. The hashtag #sobercurious has garnered over 150 million views on TikTok, and influencers like Kelsey Darragh have documented their sober curious lifestyle.
The social pressure of alcohol around the holiday season can be difficult to navigate, though, with 29% of drinkers saying they feel more pressure to drink on New Years’ Eve and 20% of drinkers saying they feel more pressure to drink on Christmas Day, according to a 2014 study by BMC Public Health. Sobriety coach and author Emily Lynn Paulson isn’t surprised by the statistic. “Peer pressure is real,” she tells Her Campus. “If nearly everyone around you is imbibing to such a degree, it only makes sense that you would feel more pressure to drink, or feel more enabled to drink when you didn’t plan to.”
If you’re sober or sober curious, and are looking for advice on navigating the holiday season, here are some tips to help overcome that social pressure.
- have A Buddy
Having a friend, or even meeting someone new and making a friend, can be helpful for staying sober. A buddy is right alongside you for the ride and can share the experience and their feelings, all while you keep each other accountable. Paulson says, “Accountability is helpful to achieve any goal. If [you] allow yourself to be cheered on while simultaneously cheering on someone else, you will be much more likely to stick with your new path. Having a sober buddy to attend holiday events with — or text or call when you’re alone — will get rid of that nagging feeling that you are ‘the only one not drinking.’”
- Make A Mocktail
Just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun, flavorful drink in your hand. Use this opportunity to test your drink-making skills and make yourself a mocktail. Most mocktails don’t require anything fancy, so you can get crafty with whatever ingredients you or your host have on hand. Or, you can even bring your own non-alcoholic beverage to your next holiday party. Your friends are bound to be impressed, so make some extra for the crew!
- Start A New Tradition
Drinking doesn’t have to be the focal point of your holiday get-together, so make it something else. Come up with a new tradition to do with your friends and family, like a gingerbread house contest, a bake-off, or even inventing your own game to play every year.
- Know Your Why
Knowing why you’re choosing to be sober during the holidays makes it easier to stick to, whether that be for health reasons, family history, or simply dreading hangovers. Paulson says, “Reminding yourself of those reasons while someone is offering you a drink, or while you’re feeling pressured to drink, can be helpful in maintaining your commitment to your goal.”
Paulson also gives another trick to keep in your back pocket: “I encourage people to ‘play the tape forward’ in those situations. What typically happens when you ‘just have that one drink?’ How will you feel tomorrow? Will having that drink help you achieve the feeling, or behavior, or goal you were originally seeking?”