6 tips to help you succeed in exploring the sober curious lifestyle

A growing number of people are drinking less or choosing not to drink at all. This new culture shift, called the sober curious movement, is not just a fleeting trend – it’s a global reflection of people adopting a more mindful and healthy relationship with alcohol.

Different to sobriety – which is about abstaining from alcohol – being sober curious has more to do with exploring a lifestyle without alcohol, or with a reduced alcohol intake. Gen Zers in particular, are being labelled the sober curious generation. Recent research by Mintel in the UK shows that Gen Z is rejecting alcohol more significantly than other generations, shifting their focus away from drinking alcohol, both inside and outside the home, and opting instead for sober socialising.

A growing awareness of the importance of health and wellness is likely the biggest propellant of the sober curious trend. The potential negative impacts of alcohol on mental health and overall well-being have been widely documented, with recent reports like a Canadian study stating that even low levels of alcohol can raise the risk of mortality, and a report in the journal Nature showing that drinking just one glass of alcohol a day could cause brain shrinkage. Alarmingly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year declared that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for human health and that “the risk to a drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage”.

A lifestyle with reduced or no alcohol intake can boost mental clarity, improve sleep, better your physical health, and enhance productivity. And, says Ayanda Mvandaba, CEO of Drink Nil, an online retailer specialising in alcohol-free wines, gins, spirits, beers, and ciders, people joining the sober curious trend soon realise they can have as much fun in their lives without alcohol as they had with it. 

“Sobriety has long been linked to having a dependency issue, but the sober curious movement challenges this stereotype. People are realising that it’s perfectly socially acceptable to abstain or cut down and explore alternatives to traditional drinking habits. 

“The sober curious trend isn’t necessarily about complete abstinence – it focuses on moderation. People are experimenting with reducing their alcohol intake and being mindful of their drinking habits. It’s an approach that allows for a healthier relationship with alcohol and prioritises their wellbeing.”

If you’re interested in exploring the sober curious lifestyle, here are some tips to help you succeed

Define your reasons for exploring sobriety. Whether it’s for health reasons, mental clarity, better sleep, or personal growth, having a clear understanding of your goals will keep you motivated, says Mvandaba. “Take the time to educate yourself about the benefits of sobriety and the potential risks of alcohol. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and stay committed to your goals.”

Find support It’s important to surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, or a community of like-minded individuals who understand and respect your decision to be sober curious. This support system can provide encouragement, accountability, and guidance when you need it.

Explore alternatives Discover non-alcoholic beverages that you enjoy, such as mocktails, alcohol-free beers, or flavoured sparkling water. “There are so many delicious tasting alcohol-free gins, wines and beers on the market. Experiment with a few to see what you like. Having a tasty alternative stops the feeling that you’re missing out, particularly when you’re in a social situation,” advises Mvandaba. 

Plan ahead Before attending events or functions where alcohol is typically served, plan ahead by bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages or researching alcohol-free options available at the venue. Having a plan in place will help you feel more confident and prepared.

Practice mindfulness Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally when you consume alcohol versus when you don’t. Practicing mindfulness can help you become more aware of the effects of alcohol on your body and mind, which may reinforce your decision to explore sobriety.

Find new activities Explore new hobbies or activities that don’t revolve around alcohol, suggests Mvandaba. Whether it’s hiking, cooking, painting, or joining a sports team, finding alternative ways to socialise and have fun can enrich your life and distract you from alcohol-centric social settings.

“Remember that exploring sobriety is a personal journey, and it’s okay to have setbacks or moments of doubt. Be kind to yourself, practice self-compassion, and focus on progress rather than perfection,” says Mvandaba.

“The sober curious lifestyle is about exploring what works best for you and finding a balance that enhances your overall well-being. It’s a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, so embrace it with an open mind and a positive attitude.”

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