Staying alcohol-free – How to overcome FOMO

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FOMO is one of the biggest blockers for anyone considering going alcohol-free for any length of time. It’s a little trick our brain plays on our insecurities, that can keep us in a perpetual drinking loop, even when alcohol itself isn’t that appealing. FOMO will have you thinking you can’t possibly attend your friend’s birthday/that Christmas party/the upcoming work do if staying alcohol free.

There are two truths to understand if you want to free yourself from FOMO:

1. There will always be an event coming up.

2. The conviction that you need to drink to have a good time is about conditioning, not need.

Alcohol is not the only way to have fun. Sometimes it’s not fun at all! We only think this because we’ve been conditioned from a young age to believe it’s the only way, and social drinking is embedded in British culture.

This feeling is exacerbated by social media platforms offering up a constant stream of updates from your peers, highlighting the best of their social calendars. Regularly scrolling through these curated feeds results in unhelpful comparisons and unrealistic expectations. Despite your best logic, all this can trick you into believing your life is somehow ‘less’. Overcoming that feeling is about changing your mindset and the perceived ‘benefits’ of drinking.

To help you overcome the overwhelming feeling of FOMO when not drinking, Ruari Fairbairns, CEO of OYNB, has shared his top tips.

1) Social media is a highlight reel

Social media is awash with authentic and entertaining posts. We’re not saying you should swear off social media altogether, just remember to take it with a pinch of salt. People filter what they post and how they post it, so a social feed is not a balanced view of anyone’s real life. Just because they look like they’re having the time of their lives, doesn’t mean they are. And even if they are, so what? It doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing time by making your own alcohol-free plans. Try to stop worrying about what other people are doing, and instead focus on what you enjoy.

2) Your social life goes on

Whether you’re going alcohol-free temporarily or permanently, it doesn’t have to cost you your social life. After the first few socialising at 0% ABV (or even or drinking half your normal amount), you’ll soon realise you can have just as much fun, but without the headache and noticeable debit on your bank account the next morning. As a reassuring exercise, take a moment to think: how many times have you regretted having a drink, and how many times have you been relieved you didn’t?

3) Think logically

Time for some self-analysis. What causes you to feel left out? Is it because you don’t want to miss out on that social connection? The reality is that once the slurred words and repeated stories start to roll, any real connection has left the building.

There’s a moment at any social occasion where you can choose whether to switch to soft drinks (trust us, the drinkers most likely won’t even notice) or call it a night. If you can decide when the night has reached its peak and avoid getting carried away, you’ll wake up the next morning feeling rested and truly good about yourself.

4) Reframing FOMO

It doesn’t take long to conclude that FOMO has no substance. It serves up a false view of the world. There’s no reason to feel that you’re missing out by not drinking; it simply isn’t an essential part of having a good time. The benefits of fun alcohol-free plans far outweigh the debilitating hangovers, slurred conversations, hangxiety and everything else that goes with the alternative. 5) The joy of missing out (JOMO)

Instead of confining yourself to the box of ‘if I don’t drink, I won’t enjoy myself/have fun/be fun/get invited to things’ and so on, focus on the benefits. The ability to be present in the moment. Saving cash. Cutting down on empty calories. Sleeping soundly. No anxiety about what happened the night before. All this (and more) is the joy of missing out. And it feels fantastic!

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