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10 Easy Responses to Use When People Ask Why You Aren’t Drinking

Embracing the holiday season can sometimes mean embracing alcohol with gusto… or not. Fortunately for those who choose the former, “Dry January” has caught on over the years and it’s a fantastic concept. Going through a refresh is a perfect way to rid the toxins and melt the bloat away.

I’d like to throw out a radical idea, or should I say a radical self-care opportunity!

How would your holidays feel without alcohol?

You might gasp looking for a chair to sit down as you frantically wonder how on earth you would get through the parties, relatives, house guests, and cooking without the comfort of your old friend Chardonnay or Mr. P (Pinot Noir!)

Before you race to the fridge confirming you have enough Prosecco from the stress of the idea I just offered up, please stay with me! I’d like you to try an exercise my community members often call their favorite strategy in tweaking their relationship with alcohol.

Imagine it’s Christmas Eve. What if you decided not to drink?

How would you feel going to bed knowing you wouldn’t be waking up at 2am for water and aspirin?

Would it feel inspiring to know the next morning would be one where perhaps you might see the sunrise or get up before everyone else to read or bake cinnamon rolls as a surprise?

How marvelous would it be not to feel hung over, exhausted, and impatient with your loved ones? What would it mean for them to experience you as truly calm and present in conversations?

I often say four hours of no-alcohol-infused sleep is far better than ten hours of drunk sleep. Yes, you may be tired in the morning even if you don’t drink, but oh my goodness, how good it feels not to layer on the fogginess and headache!

Now, let’s flash forward to New Year’s Eve. Envision that instead of popping open another bottle of champagne at midnight, you created a sacred ritual for yourself and loved ones. A beautiful and energetically calm meditation space with candles, wishes written out for the new year, tea, treats, and cozy blankets.

As the clock strikes midnight your wishes for the 2022 are released to everyone and everything in the universe as you breathe with eyes closed and smiles wide.

You might be sighing with a sense of pleasure looking at this vision.

The voices in your head, however, may be slowly speaking up the concern of “But what will everyone think if I’m not drinking? Will they put me on the spot in front of others, and what will I say? Will the events be boring or worse yet, will I be boring? How will I handle the overwhelm and/or social anxiety without my ever-faithful wingman called alcohol?”

When someone in my community complains about certain friends or family being nosey about why they aren’t drinking, I smile and say, “it’s not about you… it’s about them.” It’s been my experience when people make the fact that you aren’t drinking “a thing,” it’s simply because something within them, consciously or subconsciously, is calling them to examine their own relationship with alcohol.

I should know. Back when my drinking habit was a few glasses of wine every night in addition to a martini or two on the weekends, I was hyper aware of who was drinking, what they were drinking, and how many drinks they had had. It gave me anxiety when someone was still on their first glass of chardonnay while I had already gulped down a Manhattan and on to my second.

When I decided to go on an extended break from alcohol during quarantine, it was easy peasy to sail through the weekends and happy hours pleasantly content in my nightgown with Netflix. It was not as simple, however, when the small outdoor picnic dinners with friends started that summer.

I was thrown back into the “real world” for little bursts of time, and it was humbling. I experienced anxiety around the thought of people judging me, talking about me, wondering if I “had a problem,” and so on. I was worried life would be boring, or more importantly, that I would be boring.

Little did I know the exact opposite would come to fruition. Life, and I, became more colorful, brighter, happier, calmer, and more present. Still, however, it helped to have a few scripts in my back pocket for when I was caught off guard with the out-of-the-blue question around my beverage of choice.

Recently, I posted a list of responses for that awkward moment at a dinner party or event when someone says (oftentimes in front of others) “Why aren’t you drinking?” I thought my “Live More Drink Less” members would find them helpful for future use. Instead, I was happily surprised when the comments started rolling in about the responses they already use, which I must say are far better than the ones I created!

The reality is, just because someone asks you a question does not mean you owe them a response. You do not need to explain anything you are doing for the well-being of your mind, body, and soul.

However, if you are more into mocktails than mojitos and seriously dread the curious comments, here are some great comebacks that will end the discussion around your drinking, some that may bring a giggle to you and others in earshot.

1. It makes me drowsy, and I don’t want to fall asleep in your arms right now.

2. I’m driving.

3. Alcohol is just not something I am attracted to at the moment because it wakes me up at 2am with a dry mouth and headache.

4. I’m doing a self-care program and it includes the release of alcohol, and I don’t want a hangover stealing my joy tomorrow.

5. It fuels my anxiety and steals my peace.

6. I like to get up early to see the sunrise.

7. It’s more fun for me to create alcohol-free memories.

8. “Wine Face” is not my friend. (Otherwise known as dark circles under eyes, puffy face, bloodshot eyes, etc.)

9. I make decisions for my Saturday nights based upon how I want to feel Sunday morning.

10. Because… I… Am… Not… but thanks for asking, Nosey Posey 🙂

If, at this moment, you are feeling inspired to do a hangover-free holiday, that’s your soul speaking to you. Are you ready to listen?

Taking a break is not about taking anything away but instead putting so much more into your life. Even just a short break from alcohol can create a ripple effect of joy, success, and well-being throughout the year.

About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is an ICF certified coach, blogger, creator of the “Tranquility Talk” podcast, the Live More Drink Less community, and The 30 Day Reset for people ready to experiment with reevaluating their relationship with alcohol. You can download her “Happy Hour Survival Guide” here.

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