There are a lot of tempting reasons to drink alcohol– namely, it turns off the part of the brain that is aware of consequence and feels self-critical.
🤯 Uhm, no wonder so many people turn to booze to relax.
Most of us are self-flagellating worriers.
Unfortunately, there are just as many compelling reasons to abstain. More and more research has come out demonstrating there is no healthy amount of alcohol to consume (and any health benefits have been largely debunked) 🥴.
It quite literally damages your brain 🧠, accelerates aging, and worsens anxiety and depression as soon as the temporary numbing effects wear off.
Not to mention what it does to your liver which, frankly, doesn’t need any more work to do with the amount of toxic 💩 in our food, air, personal care products, clothing, medications, and water supply. Your liver needs a break!
I had a robust party-girl phase and come from a long line of Irish drinkers 🍀. I’m not preaching from the puritan pew over here.
I also had *excruciating* social anxiety up until my mid-30s and still occasionally feel like I want to disappear into the wall at social events 😶.
I love a good mezcal on the rocks and I think of alcohol like dessert at a restaurant–special occasion treat, not a daily habit 🙅♀️. Minimizing my alcohol intake improved my mental health exponentially. And I tee-total anytime my mental health or immune system is not in good shape.
Whatever your reasons for cutting back or eliminating alcohol, the biggest challenge is often social anxiety.
The good news is you don’t have to just white knuckle the next work event or party where you only know the host, you can use safer substances and techniques to help you feel more relaxed and less self-conscious 😎.
Here are 9 of my favorite ways (both herbal substances and behavioral changes) to help reduce social anxiety without alcohol ⤵️
- Kava. I love kava kava tinctures as an alternative to alcohol. You can mix some into a mocktail and enjoy the relaxing effects that feel similar to a wine buzz without the hangover. Previous concerns over kava and liver damage were due to a faulty study, but any medicinal plant can be harmful if overused. Order some here under favorites.
- Get curious about them. Choose one person to have a conversation with and shift your focus to genuine curiosity about them as opposed to self-referential thoughts. Those are the ones that sound like: “am I being weird, how do I look, what do I do with my hands?” etc. You can even share that you’re sober and feeling a little awkward. Authentic connection will ease the anxious thoughts.
- Cannabinoids. Sometimes a little CBD (or a 5:1 CBD/THC edible) can take the edge off the physical sensations of anxiety like muscle tension, which goes a long way towards helping your thoughts relax and slow down too. Plus, open body language reminds your own brain and other people’s brains that it’s safe to connect. We’re animals, y’all.
- A sober buddy. It can help tremendously to have a sober friend to attend group events with a friend who is going to be in a similar state of consciousness as you.
- Psilocybin microdosing. This can help shift brain chemistry so that your habitual patterns of fear are less intense and you feel more relaxed and receptive to new ways of doing things (like sober social events!). Reach out to email@example.com to do a consult.
- Set the mood. Sit on the periphery of group situations until you can relax into the space a little and get oriented. Adjust lighting or music/sounds (if that’s within your control) to help your nervous system relax. Wear an outfit you feel both attractive and at-ease in.
- Healthy distraction. Ask the host for a job to do or find a way to be helpful so you can move some anxious energy by staying busy. Usually 20-30 minutes after arriving and tuning into your breath and body, you’ll feel more able to socialize than when you first arrive.
- Pre-plan your self care. Make sure you’ve taken care of your nervous system the day leading up to a social event: enough sleep, enough protein and calories, meditation or breathwork, time outside. Showing up to an event rushed or stressed from a busy day makes it a lot harder to go alcohol-free!
- Sexy mocktail hour. I am totally obsessed with the Sex Magic powder from Layla Martin’s supplement company, Mood (not an affiliate, just a fan). It has a number of mood-boosting and blood-flow-boosting ingredients and it tastes good! I love the ritual of making myself a mocktail before a date night or before some partnered or solo pleasure practice.
I love working with clients on creating a healthier relationship to alcohol and other numbing mechanisms. It’s incredibly liberating to realize you don’t need it. But, first you have to prove it.
You can still be fun, I promise,
P.S. This post is not addressing alcoholism and there are many instances when “minimizing” alcohol doesn’t work. You and the people close to you know if you have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol. A couple resources I recommend: Quit like a Woman by Holly Whitaker and The Naked Mind by Annie Grace. You can read them even if you’re not ready to quit. That’s just your fear talking.