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‘Just give it a go!’: Local expert shares top tips for a happy, sober New Year

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Many of us enjoy a festive drink, but for those of us forgoing the alcohol this New Year, it can be tough.

Lauren Burnison experienced her first sober Christmas and New Year five years ago and hasn’t looked back.

Since, she has launched her own alcohol-free holiday company, running a trip to Dunkeld earlier this year after experiencing the town’s charm for herself when her family bought a holiday cabin there.

We spoke to Lauren to find out about her first sober festive season and her advice for anyone ditching the alcohol this New Year.

What was your first sober New Year like?

My first sober Christmas and New Year was in 2016. I had quit drinking that September.

I was living in South Korea at the time and decided to come back to the UK for Christmas and New Year. It was a quiet one with family in Edinburgh.

To be honest I’d had my fair share of parties over the years so I absolutely didn’t feel like I was missing out.

Christmas and New Year always felt like a bit of an anticlimax. I much prefer the unexpected feel-good moments in life, especially now that I’m booze-free.

What are your top tips for someone about to take part in their first sober festive season?

First of all, it’s important to understand this is about you. You’re making this decision to better your own life.

That means you have to put yourself first when deciding on the situations you’re going to put yourself in.

This doesn’t necessarily mean opting out of the traditional boozy family dinner but don’t feel bad if you decide to cut the party short.

Christmas mocktails are a great alternative, while still being able to enjoy your favourite festive flavours.

Also check out some alcohol-free alternatives. In the UK we are incredibly lucky to have such a great choice. I recommend checking out WiseBartender.

If you do decide to opt-out of certain parties or leave early, remember why you’re doing it and don’t forget how refreshed and amazing you’ll feel the next morning.

Just give it a go!

What are some of the main challenges people might experience?

The main challenge people experience is FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. This is understandable, especially if it’s you’re first sober Christmas.

As time goes by, sober people instead start to feel JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) at the thought of boozy events or at least staying to the early hours.

I suggest focusing on what you’re gaining and reminding yourself why you’ve decided to go booze-free.

There is a whole other world of awesome people, places and experiences on the other side of that decision.

If you’re looking for motivation, Instagram has thousands of sober accounts. You really will see that you’re not the only one going sober this Christmas.

Just search #sober and the Instagram sobersphere will be revealed!

What would you say to people who drink alcohol about how to support friends or family having a sober festive season?

If you actually care about this person, try to be respectful of their decision. That means not trying to get them to drink or interrogating them about their reason for going sober.

Many people feel triggered when someone tells them they’re not drinking. This is usually because it makes them reflect on their own drinking habits.

Being able to recognise this as a sober person is also helpful. That way you don’t take it too personally when people comment negatively on your decision to go booze-free.

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