If you are trying to keep to a drinking goal this Christmas, then you are going to have to be strong! Christmas FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) does not have to creep in.
If you are moderating, you may find it tough to stick to the days you have nominated as your non-drinking days, as suddenly every day in December becomes an excuse for a drink. Your evening limits will also be on shaky ground as hangovers are expected – calls for excess drinking will come thick and fast.
If you are alcohol-free, then the sudden splurge of party and drink invites begins to look like an obstacle course. The word NO seems rather ‘bah humbug’ – but do you really want to undo all the hard work that has got you this far?
So how do you deal with the month ahead?
Top tactics for not drinking this Christmas
It is always good to remember that drinking is not compulsory – it is just that peer pressure makes it feel that way. So tap into your inner rebel and show the world Christmas does not have to be about booze and hangovers!
For every event this year make a decision. Are you going to Avoid, Control or Escape?
For some events it will be possible to AVOID them – decide if you really want to go if it will make you anxious about sticking to your goal. Will people really notice if you are not there? Often we think people will be more upset if we don’t go to something than they really are.
You can explain nicely:
“I am not going to come along because I have worked hard to reduce my drinking this year and I don’t want to feel under pressure to drink- can we arrange to do something different instead?”
For others you might need or choose to stay in the situation but find ways to CONTROL it. Will you leave early and have something planned at home to make sure you leave when planned? For a one-on-one invite you could get in there first or even suggest the activity to take it away from a drinking situation. Maybe there is an event on locally. You may decide to drive.
Don’t forget there are lots of tips in our Rebel Non-drinking book.
If you can’t avoid or control, you may need to ESCAPE!
If discomfort begins to weigh heavy then you just need to get out of there. The first thing to do is to plan an escape before you even go.
“If this gets to hard to cope with I will ……’
This may be going and apologising to the host the next day, faking illness or knowing you have enough cash in your pocket so you can get a cab home and sit on the Facebook group for support as you travel home. The important thing is to not feel guilty.
You did this for you.
Whatever your tactic plan a reward for when you get home. You just did something difficult during the hardest time of year. Read a bit of a book, watch a box set, eat some chocolate, have a bath, plan a great breakfast for the following day.
Whatever it is don’t underestimate the need to reward yourself. Whilst everyone else thinks their hangover is a reward for a year of hard work things are different for you. Alcohol is not a reward.
Dealing with Christmas FOMO
Depending on what kind of drinker you are, you might feel a particular sense of discomfort about missing out on experiences that everyone else is having when you change your drinking.
Christmas is usually when EVERYONE goes out, even people who never drink in the week. So you might feel a bit like you are missing out on something at this point of the year.
Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) is the feeling of anxiety “that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.”
Christmas FOMO is more of a problem now that social media allows us to peer into each other’s (carefully curated and therefore apparently fascinating and glamorous) lives and see what our friends are up to, their plates of food, their filtered selfies, heart-shaped foam art on their flat whites, etc.
One way you can handle that feeling is to reframe missing out on certain activities as a positive thing. Anil Dash described the satisfaction of doing things on his own terms as the Joy of Missing Out, or JOMO.
- By saying ‘yes’ to changing your drinking, you are living life on your terms, and your decisions and choices are not dictated by what everyone else is doing.
- You can have anything you want, but not everything. By saying ‘yes’ to a changing your drinking , you are definitely saying ‘no’ to some things, and you might actually miss out on some genuinely fun events. So;
- Accept that there are and will be things that you will miss out on, but that is because you are working on an important project right now.
Logic is your friend. So take some time to think through the reality if you are feeling under pressure. Is your Christmas FOMO real?
- Would you be having an even better time if you were drinking?
- What will you miss if you go home now?
- Will people really notice if you go – they are on drink number two?
- Would my friend be upset if I explain the situation and instead plan to so something special with them later instead?
- Doe this take me closer to or further away from my goal?
The important thing is to focus not on what you might be missing out on, but on what you are gaining.