Alcohol is usually present at special events. But you don’t need a drink to have a good time. To find the sober activity that’s right for you, ask yourself this question: What are you looking to get out of the celebration?
“It’s probably the social bond, the community, the esteem that it can bring,” says Eric Beeson, PhD, associate clinical professor at the Family Institute at Northwestern University in Illinois. “Does alcohol improve that?” Probably not.”
There are many reasons why you or a loved one might not drink. You could be pregnant, have a health problem, take medication, or have a substance abuse disorder. Or maybe you don’t like how alcohol makes you feel.
No matter why you’re abstaining, here are some ways to celebrate alcohol-free.
Choose an alcohol-free cocktail or an alcohol-free bar
“Sober bars are popping up all over the United States,” says Beeson. These spots offer full menus of non-alcoholic drinks. This makes it pretty easy to celebrate in an alcohol-free bar.
Or you can buy something alcohol-free on the way to a party or event. You might be surprised at all the options.
Mocktails are an easy choice “for people who want to be ‘sober curious’ or want to cut down on their alcohol intake,” says Melissa Cyders, PhD, professor of psychology at Indiana-Purdue University in Indianapolis ( IUPUI). “The key is, it has to be something you like to drink. “
You can opt for a soda or a virgin daquiri. But why not spice things up with something unique? Cyders suggests using high quality ingredients. It’s not usually the pre-made sweet stuff.
Beeson says he likes to challenge bartenders to make the most creative non-alcoholic drink they can think of.
“When they say things like: What’s your flavor profile? That’s when I know it’s a place where I can dig and celebrate with my friends, ”he says.
Do something fun
Everyone is different. This makes it difficult for experts to determine the “best” thing to do. But try something where you have to use your hands, like cycling or tennis.
Board games are another good choice. “Something where you don’t just talk, but where you are engaged in some activity,” Cyders says.
Or choose something that you can’t (or shouldn’t) do while drinking.
For example, Beeson says he went rafting for a bachelor party. “It’s probably best to stay sober when going down a river that can kill you. “
If you are in charge of a group celebration, be creative.
You can organize massages or “maybe something more competitive, like paintball or a round of golf,” says Joseph Volpicelli, MD, PhD, addiction specialist and founder of the Volpicelli Center.
Here are some other ideas:
- Jump into an indoor trampoline park.
- Go to a climbing gym.
- Try indoor skydiving.
- Go on a hike that ends with stargazing.
Focus on friends and experiences
People often get more lasting satisfaction from doing things instead of buying things, says Sonja Lyubomirksy, happiness researcher, distinguished professor and vice president of psychology at the University of California at Riverside.
Most celebrations – with or without alcohol – are already experiences, Lyubomirsky says. “You can go out to dinner or have a party, travel or go to a spa with friends.”
Here are some of her other tips for celebrating while improving your well-being:
- Spend time with others. Pick an activity that will help you strengthen your relationships. “Anything you can do to connect with other people,” Lyubomirksy says.
- Take on a challenge. Do something that will help you grow as a person. Or just try something new and exciting. “Go learn to parachute,” she said.
- Pay it up front. It might not be something you normally think of when it comes to a celebration. But we tend to feel good about ourselves when we give back to society or do “an act of kindness.” So if you’re socializing, reach out to someone who might not feel included. Or buy them a non-alcoholic drink as well.
You might feel relaxed when you drink alcohol. But many studies show that spending time in nature can relieve stress. An outdoor celebration can also strengthen your social bonds.
Here are some ideas:
- Meet your friends in a park.
- Take a group hike to a scenic vantage point.
- Prepare mocktails for a backyard meeting.
Bonus points for choosing something that gets you and your friends moving. Research confirms what you already know from experience: Being active outdoors can boost your mind and body.
Treat yourself to something sweet
While you don’t want to make sugar your only reward, you can treat yourself to a special occasion. Find a new dessert spot in your area. Or visit an old favorite.
Here are a few more ways to celebrate while satisfying your sweet tooth:
- Grill a new job with milkshakes.
- Celebrate your birthday with an ice cream sundae bar.
- Pair fruit with a chocolate fountain at your wedding.
- Have s’mores after dinner if there is a fire pit nearby.
Find a sober boyfriend
It can be difficult to celebrate without alcohol if everyone around you is drinking. Ask for help if you think you need it.
“If you are going to an environment and you plan not to drink that night, tell a friend who can bring you that soft drink or help you choose an activity that is incompatible with drinking. alcohol, ”Cyders explains.