For a lot of people, the month of September marks the start of a new chapter, and also puts a firm end to a summer of shenanigans. For a lot of people, this transition can be particularly tough. If you’re the type of person who thrives in the summer but turns into Yogi Bear as soon as October hits, just because winter is coming doesn’t that you have to hibernate.
With solemn promises to remain dry in whichever month we deem 'easy' to go booze-free, we can use this season to punish ourselves for the indulgences of summer. But in order to reset, you don’t always have to repent. Instead of jumping to the extremes of holing up in a pub and drinking the weekend away or staying in and miserably counting the days until you can go boozing again, there is a happy medium to maintaining a healthy social life in winter without running yourself into the ground. Here are five ways to do just that.
1. There’s no shame in staying in
Contrary to popular belief, having a night in doesn’t mean that you’re getting old, giving up, losing touch or boring. For a lot of people, work gets busier in the winter months and with Christmas (sorry) looming, all that extra work doesn’t necessarily mean that we have more money in our bank accounts. Combined, September, October and November can be treated as the resting period — financially and physically — in the build-up to the madness that is December.
Embrace it; don’t fear it. Use this time to finally tuck into the stack of books sitting on your bedside locker, to use that hair treatment that’s been sitting on your bathroom shelf for months and to binge on every TV show that your friends have been recommending to you.
2. Have something to look forward to
No human should shut themselves off from the world entirely. If the idea of being cooped up indoors gives you the jitters, then pick out a date in your diary and pencil something exciting in. Actually, don’t pencil it. Highlight it in bright neon colours.
Winter drags on and if you need to find ways to break up the season, then give extra ceremony to the events that make you happy. Whether it’s small things like a visit to the cinema on Cheap Tuesday, catching up on the Great British Bake Off or having a night in with your family, make it stand out in your diary so that you know your weeks are full.
But if small doesn’t cut it, seek out the bargain of a winter holiday. Some sunshine or adventure in January or February could be just the thing to make summer feel like it’s not so far away.
3. Group activities
Make steady plans with your friends, especially if you are prone to a case of the blues during winter. In doing this, you can combine points one and two by having weekly gatherings in each others' homes. Whether you choose to binge-watch Euphoria together or host potluck dinners, there are ways to maintain your friendships without stepping inside a pub or a nightclub.
If you’re adamant to stay booze-free, you can do it together as a gang and encourage each other. Plus, when you’re sober, those Deep Meaningful Conversations you normally have on nights out will hold extra merit.
4. Be comfortable with saying no
With endless nights and bright mornings, it’s easy to say yes to the world in summer but this technique is tricky to maintain all year. With heavy downpours and dark evenings, our free time is limited. If we continue to accept every boozy invite, commutes on packed buses will hog up our evenings and our weekends will be spent recovering.
While a hangover day can be a luxury with trashy TV, duvets on the couch and a takeaway for dinner, why not take the luxury of a hangover but remove puking, regret and headaches from the equation? Saying no to a night out isn't the end of the world and embracing alone time doesn't mean that you have no friends.
Sometimes curling up at home is the only thing you need to set your thoughts straight. So learn to say no and be happy with that decision. There will always be another night out so missing out on one isn’t the death of your social life.
5. Test your motivation
Set realistic goals rather than wearing your motivation out as the start. If you want to get fit, start phasing runs or swims into one evening of the week and build it up over time. Don't exhaust yourself in the first few weeks.
If you want to read more, set a daily page goal and then increase it to a new book every week. If you want to cut back on meat, start by cutting it out at lunch, then during weekdays. You don’t have to go full veggie but reducing your meat intake will change your eating habits for the better. Like New Year’s resolutions, don't set the bar too high when you could easily adjust one part of your life.
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