Many destination spas like Canyon Ranch have a no-alcohol policy, because they were created to help people lose weight and feel their best. Cutting out alcohol and sugar is the quickest path to cutting calories, and it usually makes you feel better. But this time of year can pose a challenge to anyone who is trying to abstain, for whatever reason. Between holiday parties, sweets, and Christmas dinners, there's temptation everywhere.
I decided to stop drinking during the holidays this year because it's the first Christmas without my brother. I can only drink in very small amounts without feeling the effects the next day -- and sometimes even one glass is too much, if it's the wrong wine. I figured that it would be easier to not drink at all. So far I've gotten through the holiday season okay. Here are some of the strategies I've used.
First, make a clear decision and commitment to yourself. Be clear why you're doing it. I knew the holidays would be depressing enough without my brother. I didn't want to add to my burden with alcohol, which feels good while I'm drinking it but can be bad the next day. I liked the feeling that I could count on myself to take care of myself.
Let the host or hostess know you're not planning to drink ahead of time. They'll probably have some nice alternative for you, like Twelve, an alcohol-free sparkling beverage made from tea, herbs and natural juices. It's festive, tastes good without being overly sweet, and doesn't leave you feeling deprived. It's also a good idea to bring something non-alcoholic you like.
Expect things to be a little different. If other people are enjoying the effects of alcohol -- lower inhibitions, higher spirits -- and you're completely clear-headed, it might not be quite as much fun as taking the ride with them (especially if you're sad about a major loss to begin with).
Be prepared to listen and observe. You might feel lively even without the alcohol, but if you don't, it's okay to sit back, breathe, smile, listen, observe. You don't have to be the one full of amusing stories. You don't have to entertain everyone. Just be there, and see what unfolds.
Plan to do other things you might enjoy. I spent Christmas eve at a nearby monastery. We listened to a talk by the monk Thich Nhat Hahn, shared a vegetarian dinner, and sat in a candlelit meditation hall singing carols, sharing stories and listening to performances. It was lovely.
Avoid temptation. I may send my husband without me to our winemaker friends' house for a tasting of all their Merlots and Champagnes from various vintages. The wines will be to good and numerous to resist, and the wine is the central focus of the party. I haven't decided on this one yet.
It's not necessarily forever. Just because I'm not drinking now doesn't mean I won't at some point in the future. For me, it's something I'm doing to take care of myself because of what's going on right now.