How to Avoid a Hangover? Try Conscious Drinking.
Whew, eclipse season! Plus, Mercury in retrograde! For me, this August has been a TRIP, and the backdrop to a profound shift in one particular area of my life: my relationship to alcohol. I’ve written a lot about my “sober curious” journey, which has seen me go from committed habitual drinker (some may use the term “alcoholic,” I have never identified with that label) to drinking a handful of times a year. And not in a “counting down the days until my next blowout” kind of a way. Rather, over the past seven years, I have gradually reduced the amount I drink to almost nothing. And my desire to drink has shrunk along with my consumption. In fact, wine that used to taste like nectar to me, now tastes like just another drink. And even when I think I’d like a glass, I usually change my mind again, mid-glass.
Not that alcohol, in moderation, is “bad,” but it is a powerful substance, and taking some time to tap into your relationship with it can be key for both tuning into yourself and, believe it or not, having more fun.
The latest research shows that drinking—regular old drinking as well as high-risk drinking—is up across the board in the United States. Why? Drinking to excess has become more and more acceptable, especially for women, and I believe it’s also a reaction to the rapid pace of change in the world. As the future becomes less and less certain, the numbing comfort of a cocktail (not to mention the short-lived illusion of joy this provides) looks more and more appealing.
My sober curious path has involved confronting, and ultimately accepting, many of the more painful and less fabulous aspects of my life. But there has been one place where alcohol remained a trusty companion: on the dance floor. Like many of us, my extreme self-consciousness about dancing means I’ve held onto booze as a crutch at weddings, parties, and anywhere else there may be booty-shaking on the menu. The only place I’ve been able to dance without a cocktail in my system in my own living room (when only my cat is watching).
But everything changed on the August 7 Aquarius full moon eclipse, which I celebrated by hosting a sober dance party as part of my Club SÖDA NYC event series. Taking over the rooftop bar of a hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, we had dancefloor reiki and tarot readings, and I made Unicorn Shots (almond milk, cacao, kava, banana, maca and honey, with rainbow sprinkles on top!) To my surprise, two hours into the proceedings, I found myself dancing like a banshee—and completely alcohol-free. The euphoria in my body was palpable, in a way it never has been while drunk dancing—and it lingered for hours after the music had stopped.
It was the most liberating experience I’ve had in a long time. And with the timing of the lunar eclipse, it felt as if a cosmic switch had been flicked: The seven years I’d spent slowly but steadily teaching my mind, body, and soul that I don’t need alcohol had finally brought me to this light-filled moment. After all, full moon eclipses often prompt sudden “endings” in life, helping us to shed limiting beliefs that have overstayed their welcome.
The deal was sealed two weeks later, at the corresponding Leo new moon eclipse, when I found myself leading a sober new moon ceremony with my new friend Shaman Durek on Obonjan Island in Croatia. Following a guided self-love meditation, Durek chanted and sang a series of tribal songs over a pumping deep house soundtrack, and the crowd went WILD.
We danced for hours with the wind in our hair, earth below our feet, water all around, and fire in our hearts. The vibe was electric, and countless people came to tell me how amazing it was that we were all sober! It was so perfect that the new moon eclipse was in Leo—the sign of pure, childlike creativity and self-expression. Dancing that night, I was reminded of how, at the age of three, I’d told my mom: “Ruby is truly a dancer!” And mini me certainly didn’t need a shot of tequila (or three) to know it.
Having been reminded that I can dance like only my cat is watching without alcohol, I don’t know when I’ll drink again. Like I said, I don’t identify with the label “alcoholic,” and I’m essentially an advocate of conscious drinking—what I define as questioning the alcohol you do decide to imbibe.
Want to try conscious drinking for yourself? Here’s how to start:
Instead of automatically pouring a glass of wine at the end of a long day, or grabbing a glass a party hostess offers, or giving the server your order the second you step into happy hour, consider stalling with a water while you ask yourself these questions:
Why am I drinking this?
How will it make me feel, in five minutes, in five hours, and tomorrow morning?
Am I drinking for me, or somebody else?
Answering these honestly may mean making very different choices. Sometimes, you may be making the choice to drink because you’re celebrating, or because there’s a wine or cocktail on the menu that’s one of your favorites. But other times, you’re making the choice because you’re stressed, exhausted, or imbibing some liquid courage because you feel insecure. Knowing why you’re drinking can help you suss out whether or not you should be drinking. And “should” is subjective—only you know the answer. Another way to get a holistic view of the role alcohol plays in your life: Make a pros/cons list. Pros could be the socialization factor or the taste, and cons could be feeling sluggish the next morning, or regretting the 30 dollars gone from your wallet. The pros/cons could change every few months, or years, so doing a list whenever you wonder how alcohol plays a part in your life is key.
Another “conscious drinking” technique: Skip alcohol during an event where you’d usually have a cocktail or two. My own journey has shown me that with dedication and integrity, it’s possible for even the most committed cocktail girl to unlearn deeply ingrained beliefs about booze. The first step? Don’t drink! It sounds so simple, but we all know how hard it can be to say “no thanks” when the social pressure is on. But you’ll likely be surprised at how little people care what’s in your glass. If you want, order a seltzer with lime, and let people think you’re holding a vodka soda. Going sober curious will mean a lot of sober “firsts” (first sober party, date, wedding, etc.), and the only way to move beyond them is to just dive in. Discovering that you can have just as much fun without a drink in your hand (trust me, you absolutely will!) is an empowering revelation in and of itself.
Want more “sober curious” tips? I’m in London, hosting an event called High Sobriety: How To Have a Fabulous Sober (Curious) Life on September 7—and I’ll also be posting the discussion on my Instagram, @the_numinous. Your journey to the ultimate high vibe life could very well start here.
Ruby Warrington is the founder of the modern spirituality site The Numinous; the co-founder of Moon Club, a monthly mentoring program; and the author of Material Girl, Mystical World.
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For more of Ruby Warrington’s tips on how to live a stylishly spiritual life, try:
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