How many times have you regretted that hangover the morning after a big night out? Ever thought the more you drink, the less you actually enjoy social situations?
The reality is, we don't need alcohol to have a great time. It's fun to meet up, enjoy good conversations and have a laugh with friends and family, and there are lots of ways to do that without booze. And if you usually drink in the house, there are some good ways to avoid that moment you go to pour a drink.
We've pulled together our top five ways to stay social and still have plenty of fun without drinking.
1. Get friends or family on board too.
If you're thinking of cutting back on alcohol, it's a good idea to enlist support from friends and family who might even be up for joining you. You won't feel like you're missing out on anything if you're in it together.
Why not make a pact with your partner to have more days off midweek? Or if you socialise with friends a lot, agree to cut down when you do meet up?
There are initiatives like Dry January, which encourage taking a break from the booze, when lots of people get involved. But it’s now becoming more common for people to take months off at other points in the year too.
Cutting down on booze can help kick-start a new fitness regime, so why not try going to the gym with a mate or joining a fitness class together? There are plenty of classes that encourage coming along in pairs which will help you feel great, stay social and may even change your life!
2. Plan in social activities that don't involve booze.
If your social life typically involves alcohol, why not plan in some alternative activities that don't revolve around drink?
Do you have a hobby you used to love, but maybe don't do as much now? Cutting back on alcohol can open doors to lots of exciting new opportunities. Love the cinema or music? Travelling? Do you have a passion for sport or walking?
Why not try your hand at something new altogether? And even better – keep it social and enjoy with a friend or loved one.
3. Think about the weight you could lose.
Alcohol contains far more calories than most people realise. A pint of beer can have as many calories as a large slice of pizza, and a large glass of white wine the same as an ice cream. See for yourself
But it’s not just about the calories in a drink. According to Slimming World, most people have a tipping point after a few drinks when they go on to eat and drink much more than they intended, which can also lead to eating more and feeling lazier the next day.
You can lose weight by cutting down the amount you drink and taking more days off.
4. Think of the money you'll save.
When a night out involves booze, it's bound to result in a bigger hit on your bank balance, which often means occasions to catch up with friends and family are few and far between.
If you make time to go for coffee regularly with friends, or catch up over a bite to eat, take booze out of the equation and you may just find you end up doing lots more, thanks to the money you'll save.
Plus, you'll save plenty on pricey taxi fares home if you take the car.
5. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Thinking about cutting down and trying new ways to enjoy social situations without alcohol is great. But if you find you don’t always stick to your good intentions don’t beat yourself up. Remember all the benefits of drinking less, from feeling more productive at work to losing weight, sleeping better and improving your health and wellbeing, and you'll soon get back on track.
If you do drink heavily, cutting back in stages or taking days off, rather than trying to reduce your drinking too quickly, is often easier and leads to greater success in the long term. So don't be too hard on yourself.