How to develop a fitness habit and actually stick to it

Last Sunday one of our amazing Hello Sunday Morning members, Ruby, totally smashed the Blackmore’s Sydney Marathon. But I know many of us are thinking, “Gym? Who’s Jim?”  And boy, do I know that sentiment. When it’s been so long since you’ve exercised, all fitness related terms begin to sound like a foreign language.

But you’ve tried to hop back onto the exercise bandwagon. We’ve all tried. The thing is, the routine just doesn’t stick. Or at least it hasn’t, yet.

So how do you start and maintain an exercise routine? We have some ideas.

How to start and maintain an exercise routine

Prepare

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Although it can be tempting to write this off as no big deal, starting a fitness routine can be a genuinely tough task. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your Doctor about your plan to start exercising, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while and/or have other health concerns. If that’s not for you, jump ahead and start making yourself a fitness plan.

One of the biggest mistakes that we make is not setting appropriate goals when we plan our exercise routines. Have you heard of the SMART criteria for how to create good goals? What this means in terms of exercise goals is that they need to be targeted, show measurable progress, and be realistic.

The key word here is realistic. I think many of us jump the gun when creating these sorts of goals. Expecting yourself to run five kilometers every day, right off the bat, is a great ambition –– but not a realistic goal. So take it easy and ditch the all-or-nothing frame of mind. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Everyone’s realistic goal will look different. Maybe when you’re a week in, the plan is to go for a run three times a week. At this stage your indicator of success may simply be: did you get out the door? You might’ve walked the whole way, but as long as you got out of the house when you intended to, you checked off the box.

Further down the track, when you’re more comfortable with your three-day-a-week walk/run, you might set the intention to run for 30 minutes on each occasion without taking a break. Maybe you could start adding other activities to your routine, like resistance training. Perhaps throw in a longer run on the occasional Sunday. Soon enough it will be like brushing your teeth – a healthy habit.

Mix it up and see what works

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Try different activities

Usually, when we think of the word ‘exercise’, we imagine either toned people cheerfully running in the sunshine, or Schwarzenegger’s figure pumping iron at the gym.

But you’ll be happy to hear that there are so many other activities that count as exercise. Rock climbing, Zumba, yoga, team sport, parkour, dancing – the list goes on (and on, and on …).

You could even try one of those workout plans that everyone’s always raving about at the water cooler. Typically these provide you with an interesting and specific exercise routine, access to a community of fellow exercise-ees, and sometimes even a nutrition plan. Kayla Itsines, we’re looking at you.

Try exercising at different times of the day

Morning workouts

Some people try exercising in the morning and it becomes their everything. And it’s true: this is a great way to start the day, giving you the energy and headspace you need to kickstart your morning.

Here are a few tips if you’re planning on giving the morning workout a go:

  • Lay out your workout clothes the night before;
  • Plan the workout you’ll be doing. If you’re going to a class in the morning, book it in. If you’re doing your own thing, maybe consider roping a friend along to hold you accountable;
  • Set an alarm: don’t snooze. As soon as the alarm goes off, that’s it. No second guessing. You’re up. Dressed. Out the door.

P.S. a secondary tip here: keep your alarm away from your bed so you actually have to get up to turn it off.

  • If you’re anything like me, with a tendency to remain half-asleep for at least an hour after rousing, consider writing yourself a morning to-do list. Brush teeth, water plants, drink coffee. check, check, check.

Evening workouts

For those of you who groan at just the thought of waking up to see the sun rise, there is always the trusty old evening workout. This is actually an excellent way to destress at the end of the day. Plus, there is the obvious benefit of getting to snooze a little longer in the morning. Pack your exercise gear with you when you leave in the morning for work. The key thing to remember here is that if you go home before exercising, you’ll probably just end up eating a snack on the couch. (It’s okay, we’ve all been there!) Again, classes are a great idea in the evenings.

It all just depends on how you roll. You’ll figure out what exercise time is best for you.  

Try exercising both alone and with others

Solo work-outs mean you get time and space for yourself. It means that you can work at the level that best suits you and really absorb yourself in the exercise task.

On the other hand, exercising with others also has its benefits. Primarily, you’re held accountable for turning up. If you’ve promised your mates you’ll turn up on Sunday morning for a doubles tennis match––unless you want to be “that guy”––you know you’re going to go.

Eliminate excuses

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If you’re serious about this, eliminating excuses should become your priority.

At least at first. Once exercise is a part of your routine, you can begin to work your life around your fitness schedule.

But the biggest excuse we tend to pull out of our back pockets is time. The thing to remember is, no one has time to exercise. Not even those people who do exercise regularly. You have to make time to exercise.

Plus, there is evidence to suggest that if you exercise in the right way, you might not even need to invest much time at all.

Other excuses might include:

“I don’t have access to a gym,” to which we say there are plenty of workouts you can do outside of a gym.

“I don’t have a babysitter,” in which case we suggest ways to get fit with kids in tow.

Even, “I actually just hate exercise” simply means talk therapy might help.

The list of exercise excuses is neverending. But if you look hard enough there’s a reasonable counterpoint to each one of them. Eliminate excuses and you’re halfway there.

You don’t need to become an Exercise Person

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You definitely know who I am talking about when I describe Exercise People. These people are persistently posting health food and fitness photos on Instagram, and invariably touting activewear at all times, even when they’re not actually exercising.

But, really, you don’t need to become an Exercise Person (i.e. change everything about yourself) when you begin to exercise regularly. Just because you brush your teeth every day doesn’t mean you’re “super into dental hygiene,” although that’s probably a good thing if you happen to be. Think of exercise in this way: it’s just another part of your average day.  

Get to it

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Our final piece of advice? Frankly, now’s the time to just stop thinking and start exercising. So hop–step into your sneakers and grab some H20 on your way out the door, because it is time to get physical! Don’t forget to applaud yourself for every workout. And voilà! You’re on your way to starting and maintaining an exercise routine.

 

How to survive a music festival

Summer these days is the time for some serious music festival hopping. Sunshine, friends and good music. What’s not to love?

But festivals are beginning to acquire a bad rep.

They’re sweaty, expensive and exhausting. In fact, it’s not a stretch to consider the similarities between attending a festival and the experience of a hangover. Which is to say, they can both be the actual worst.

But what to do when, despite those inconvenient truths, you still long to turn up starry eyed for your golden performers? Whether you’re rocking this event sober or not, we have some tips for you to have the best summer festival season yet.

How to have the best music festival experience

Shred for stereo

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Just kidding. But prepping for a festival physically will probably improve your experience of it. Don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean actually getting fitter! But more along the lines of making sure you’re hydrated, sleeping well the night before, and having a good meal before the event.

If you’re camping out at a festival, sleeping well could prove a little trickier. But there are things you can do to improve the chances of having a good sleep, which is why you should check out these tips for camping at a festival.

When it comes to food, festival meal options are often meagre, and usually gut-wrenchingly expensive. The solution to this problem: snacks. Trail mix, muesli bars and lollies are simple and delicious ways to beat the tummy grumbles without breaking the bank.

Be pragmatic, people! Sunscreen. Water. Snacks. These things seem like no big deal now, but on the day they will *literally* feel like life-savers.

Planning and prioritising

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Sigh. Does it sound like we’re turning a fun event into an organisational chore? It really doesn’t have to be! I mean, you probably do this stuff already, but make sure you check out the festival program beforehand.

Does this sound familiar?

“Gah! CC the Cat and the Tinpan Orange are on at the same time‽”

We hate to break it to you, but sometimes, you need to compromise. Prioritise.

Who are you attending the festival with? What’s their taste in music? You’ve got to consider these things before selecting your fam! Maybe even discuss your game plan together before heading in. Goooo team!

Take what you need

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You know that feeling, when you’ve been battling it out in the scorching heat for eight hours, and as the sun goes down you begin to feel yourself slow down. Woah. Now you’re feeling it in your bones. This isn’t tiring. It’s bloody exhausting.

A couple of points here. If you feel miserable standing in a mosh pit to get the best spot for an act that is starting in three hours, you don’t have to do it. Isn’t the sole point of this experience to have fun? I mean, don’t get me wrong – I totally get you. I have been there, and will be again. There is some part of our overstimulated, overtired brains at that point in the day that says, “stay, it will be totally worth it!” And it might, but it also might not. I guess it’s a form of FOMO.

Chilling a little further from the stage, near some pals and owning some dancing space – this battle plan is often far more enjoyable.

Taking it further, if you’ve had enough of the event, that’s also cool. There is sometimes a bizarre but powerful force of social energy that keeps us sticking around. But just know that you can bail if you want to. Take what you need from the experience, and then, if you want to, leave.

So think about what you need. Pack your bag (light). And get ready for festival season: we’ve got some exciting Sunday mornings to say “hello” to.

Talking to Dad about alcohol

Ah, dads. We love them. We fight with them. Some of us are them.

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They are the architects of the best/worst jokes known to mankind (depending on your taste). And for many of us, they represent great pillars of strength and sanctuary. Fatherhood is a beautiful thing.

And it can be easy to forget that our dads have lives of their own. Between giving life advice and being consistently overbearing, dads remain in the middle of their own journeys; they have their own lives and hopes and dreams.

When was the last time you asked your dad how he is doing? I mean really asked him. Person to person. Is he struggling with anything at the moment? Does he feel comfortable talking to you about his emotional circumstances? The answer might be no. And that is okay. But chances are that there is a wealth of wisdom lying latent in your dad’s catalogue of personal experiences.

For example, have you ever talked to your dad about his relationship with alcohol? It is a difficult topic to broach, terrifying even. I mean, where do you begin? Honestly, he probably feels the same way as you do, wanting to share his experience but not sure where to begin.

How to talk to your dad about alcohol

Think about what to say

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You know when you’re caught in a persistent cycle of thoughts before you’re about to have the conversation you’ve been dreading? Rumination. It can be truly toxic. So don’t let that occur. Just think about the issue vaguely. And then let it go until you have the conversation. If you begin to feel that sensation of dread creeping up on you, stop. Acknowledge it. And move on with your day.

Be gentle, but direct

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By this we mean: don’t ambush them with the subject, but also make sure not to beat about the bush. You want to talk turkey and get to the crux of what you want to say. This conversation will, at first, be confronting. Wait for the right time. Take a deep breath. Say the thing.

And believe me, there will come the moment, just before you open your mouth, during which you will want to bolt. Your insides will turn to mush and your voice will be stolen, having dissolved into thin air in a split second. But that is okay. You’ve got this.

Begin the conversation: share something about yourself

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But how to actually begin the conversation? There are many ways you could approach the topic, and the best for you may vary depending on your relationship with your dad. But generally, a good tip is to share something about your experience with the issue. So you could say something like “I have been thinking a lot about my relationship to alcohol lately. I have realised that it has been really valuable for me to reflect on it.” In your own words, of course, but you get the idea. Saying something personal demonstrates to the other person that you are comfortable (or maybe uncomfortable, but open to) being vulnerable around them.

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Illustration by The Oatmeal

In her TED talk, Dr. Brene Brown discusses the power of vulnerability. It is exceptionally difficult to let yourself be vulnerable in front of others. To be vulnerable is gutsy. To be vulnerable is brave.

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen,” says Dr. Brown. Letting ourselves be vulnerable. And, she adds, “staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” Which, many have argued, is sort of the point of everything. We are wired to connect to other people, it’s one of the things that has enabled humans to be so successful as a species.

Plus, even though we don’t talk about it, most of us are actively seeking those honest human connections. We are looking to have more meaningful conversations, even though it often feels as though we are caught in a rut of small talk.

When it comes to talking to Dad, being vulnerable and having these talks can feel extra harrowing. Dads are tough. Dads embody masculinity. For many of us, their support can feel like a emotional sanctuary. And this remains true.

Although we’re often taught the opposite, being emotional is tough. Being open and unguarded is the most mortal and powerful things we can do.

Humour

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Despite having raved about how difficult this is in the past few paragraphs, this conversation will ultimately be wonderful. Strange, scary, wonderful. All of it. So don’t be afraid to be yourself. Use a bit of humour, be engaged and excited to be having this discussion. In fact, laughter is even suggested to be great way to get people to open up.

Laugh about how scared you were to have this conversation. Laugh about how difficult all of this is.

Don’t assume anything

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And finally, don’t make any assumptions about where the conversation will go. We project so many of our personal biases onto other people, all of which are based on our personal experience of the world. And we sometimes forget that we will never completely know people. We know things about them. We know what they like and what they dislike. But no person will ever completely know what is going on inside the brain of another. So don’t assume anything. Let yourself be surprised.

So, this Father’s Day, have a difficult conversation with him, and give him the gift of connection.

 

How to host a dinner party

Dinner is about far more than sustenance. Birthdays, work meetings and first dates; our most important moments in life occur over dinner. In fact, the ritual of mealtime can be truly nourishing and meaningful.

So just what are the key ‘ingredients’ to hosting the best dinner party around town? We’ve got the recipe.

Step 1: Plan it in advance

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It is crucial to plan. But unless you are planning a wedding, this needn’t be a monster of a task to plan months in advance. How many people, how much food, what kind of food, location, budget and so on. Plan to know what’s coming up.

Step 2: The basics

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When

When will you be hosting this dinner party? Ask a few prospective guests and make sure there are no big events or birthdays around then.

Where

Do you have enough space at your place? Or can you hold it inside or outside? What will the weather be like?

There are no textbook answers to these questions. Some like to host parties in smaller spaces that feel cosy, occupied and busy. Decide what you prefer and what options are available for you.

Who

Now, consider your invitees. You want a good number of people cosying around your dining table. You will want to consider whether they will all get along. Consider no-shows and plus-ones.

The food

Now for the exciting bit! What enticing delicacies will you serve up? Key thing to remember here is that you don’t want to be too busy cooking on the night, so consider dishes that you can make in advanceAnd a useful tip: avoid crazy dishes that you have never made before. This could very well equal disaster and a last minute run to the local takeaway. Know that complicated dishes are not necessarily more impressive than simple meals made with good ingredients and a whole lot of love!

Have you thought about dietary requirements? You’ll need to factor these things into your food set list too. As a fail safe, maybe try to have a vegetarian/vegan alternative in case there are any guerilla herbivores in the mix.

You can even look into recipes suggested specifically for dinner parties.

Step 3: The big day

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On the night

One of the most difficult things to do: relax and have fun.

Even though (inevitably) you’ll have half your mind on your schedule and other hosting duties, try to be present and savour everything going on around you. While it may seem that your duty is to feed your guests, in reality it is for you to spend time with them. Don’t start to clean up mid-event; you can get to it later, and hopefully with a bit of help!  

Don’t stress

Despite all your wonderful planning, expect things to go wrong at the last minute. Learn to adapt. That’s part of the fun! Self-professed “maniacal-perfectionist” and homemaker extraordinaire Martha Stewart says wisely, “So, the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges.” Stay in control and never panic.  

Try to expect the unexpected. The first guest will arrive early. You’ll encounter an unexpected dietary requirement. Children will make a mess. These things happen! But if you’re well prepared, you’ll still be able to kick back and have a blast while you’re at it being an excellent host.

Quoting, again for her dinner-party savvy, ol’ Martha Stew, “there is no single recipe for success. But there is one essential ingredient: passion.” Just add the final garnishing touches, and voilà: you’re hosting a dinner party!

How to master a skill

Gemma O’Brien recently talked to us about her ambition to pursue mastery in her work. Something she touched on was the fact that mastering a skill is not, as it might initially seem, about achievement. Rather, it boils down to the experience of mastery itself. 

What is mastery?

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What does it mean to have mastered something? Does it mean to be proficient? To be skillful? And is mastery the same as success?

In a popular TED talk, Sarah Lewis suggests that mastery is, in fact, different to success. She explains that success is a time-bound event, something the world tells us we have achieved. Whereas mastery is something that comes from within, it is a constant pursuit. Mastery is in the reaching and not in the arriving. It is in “constantly wanting to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be,” says Sarah.

Why is mastery important?

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Psychologists have been talking about mastery for a number of years now. In fact, mastery is considered one of the six components that make up ‘psychological well being’. So really, experiencing mastery is an important part of living a comfortable, happy and healthy life. This is evident in the fact that the concept of mastery turns up everywhere in the study of human behaviour.

Self efficacy

We’ve mentioned Self efficacy previously on this blog, but essentially, it refers to your belief in your ability to do a task. And experiencing mastery, as it turns out, is one of the ways that we can develop our self-efficacy beliefs. So experience mastery and you’ll improve your belief in your own capabilities, which in turn, will objectively improve your performance in a task.

Flow

Ah, this is a personal favourite. First of all, what is flow? Flow is a term coined by happiness psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and refers to a state of complete immersion in an activity. It has been suggested that flow is actually the true nature of happiness. We typically experience flow when we are in the pursuit of, you guessed it, mastery.

What is cool about flow is that it suggests that doing the tasks we do, as in the process of doing it specifically, is intrinsically rewarding. Think of a time when you’ve been so absorbed in a task- reading a book, playing a game of chess, being ‘in the zone’ during a tough game of tennis, this is all flow. Csikszentmihalyi suggests that while it is great to finish the book/chess game/tennis match, true satisfaction will come from the process itself.

And the best flow experiences? These occur when the task you’re tackling is at the optimal level of difficulty, when you’re striving to improve and learn and grow, when you’re in pursuit of mastery.

Learning

Research into mastery is changing the way we go about learning and teaching in all domains of our lives. What we have found is that learning is not about competence, but rather about aspiring to master something. Students focused on learning and improvement, whose goals are to master a task, rather than those whose goals are to perform well at a task in comparison to others, have far better long term outcomes.

What can be mastered?

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Mastery can be experienced in almost any area. For example, American chef Julia Child, who has been credited as a culinary virtuoso, experienced mastery in the world of baking, broiling and simmering.

Gemma O’Brien, artist, typographer and generally all-round cool cat, similarly experiences mastery though her work. In an interview we had with her recently, she describes how, after discovering her passion for design, she found herself in pursuit of creating things she feels personally satisfied with. “Knowing deep down that what I am creating is somehow pushing myself further,” as opposed to feedback from other people, is what Gemma believes gives her the most purpose in her work.

Now. How do you go about experiencing mastery? We reckon you can do it in four steps.

Experience mastery in four steps:

1. Do lots of things

Get out there. Have you always wanted to surf? Write? Sing? Go do it. Or otherwise, consider something you’re already doing. Do you make enough time for these activities? It’s not just hobbies, it could be work. It could be becoming a better listener. Anything that doesn’t really have a ceiling. But do it.

2.  Find the thing you love

If you do enough things, and really give them your all, you will find the thing(s) you love. They mightn’t be the things you are best at. This is not about talent. But you’ll feel your brain fire as you work at this task. Something keeps drawing you back. Makes you feel curious and interested, energised and excited. Maybe this thing will help define your life purpose, something we discussed in a previous blog post, or maybe it will simply be something that is right for you in this moment.

3. Practice

The most crucial part of experiencing mastery is practice. As we mentioned above, mastery is not about success. It is not about doing well in something, and moving on from it. It is about the persistent and unrelenting drive to learn and grow from our experiences.

It can be difficult to frame things in this way, we are generally taught from a young age to work at something until we can check off that we have done it, and then move on. But consider again your motivations for doing the task. If you are intrinsically driven, you will find it easier to (even difficult not to) practice, practice and practice.

4. Enjoy the process

Take it back to what we mentioned above about Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory. This is about the process, not about the outcome. As much as we are taught to focus on grades and likes and pats on the back, these things do not lead to long term satisfaction. So focus on the fun and on the challenge. In this way, mastery is the secret to happiness. Do it for the process. #Doitfortheprocess.

Dating sober: how to do it

So it’s friday night and you get a text from the guy/girl you’ve recently given your number to. ‘Would u like to go out for a drink’ asks your charming suitor. But you’re not so sure. You’d love to hang out with him/her, but you’re now questioning whether this drinking and dating business is all it’s sought out to be. Maybe you don’t drink at all. Or maybe you are just taking a booze break for the moment.

Where to go from here?

Dating without drinking is hard. How do you quell the pre-date jitters that will inevitably encroach? What if your date is a drinker and feels uncomfortable? We’ve considered these issues and have a few pointers about how you can date sober, and have a great time while you’re at it.

Dating without alcohol

1. How to meet people when you’re dating sober? 

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Short answer: Tinder

Let’s be honest, Tinder has changed the way we date forever. The simple fact that you don’t need to ‘head out’ to meet people, cramped in a musty, boisterous bar, is game changing. And we’re not the only ones interested in the cultural phenomenon that is Tinder. The app is now so firmly embedded in the zeitgeist that there is both a song dedicated to it and a film being written about it.  And if Tinder is not your flavour, there’s Match.com, okcupid, Happn and a plethora of other matchmaking technologies to try out. As superficial or awkward it might feel at first, these dating apps provide you a chance to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise come across, say, at a bar. As this blog describes, Tinder presents a microcosm of what happens in the real offline dating world.

But honestly, almost anywhere else

Have you ever eyed someone that strikes your fancy while in line at the grocery store? Or when you’re on the train or at the gym. The thing is, when you start dating without alcohol you realise that you’re almost always on your A-game. Yes, it takes guts. But you’ve got them! Just go for it.

2. What to do on a date besides go out for drinks?

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While the default date might be drinks, there are actually a ton of other options to consider. The classic alternatives are of course coffee/dinner dates. Good standard date fare, you know more or less what to expect. But if you want to think outside the box, some options could include a visit to the museum, hiking, a peruse at the farmers markets or live music. Another good idea is to check out if there is anything interesting happening in your town like sporting events or film festivals.

Another date activity which seems to be gaining a bit of popularity is the active date. Whether it is rock climbing or dancing that tickles your fancy, active dates bring the goods by helping you get to know each other better. Plus there might be some advantages to getting your heart rate up when you’re courting as per the Misattribution theory of arousal. The idea is that your brain mistakenly attributes your increased heart rate to the physiological responses elicited by the body’s erm…arousal response, and as a result, both of you are more likely to find each other attractive.

3. How to deal with date nerves when you’re not drinking?

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Who doesn’t feel jittery before an exciting rendezvous? Not using alcohol to quell these nerves can feel daunting. A couple of things you can give a whirl instead:  

Relax

This may seem obvious but it is easier said than done. Figure out what works for you. Write or talk about your anxiety, maybe call a friend. Take a few deep breaths and try to get out of your own head.

Be comfortable

Wear what makes you feel the most comfortable (although maybe cover the basics like wearing shoes and having a shower) and schedule at a time that actually works for you. Some people like heading out straight after work so they don’t have time to dwell on their jitters, whereas others like to have some time to themselves beforehand.

Nerves can be good!

Your nerves could very well be indicating that there is something there. That is, chemistry. Alcohol typically dulls our sensory and emotional experience so without it we’re open to the raucous disarray of emotions that warp us when we’re under the spell of a potential new love. Of course, that doesn’t make the experience any easier, but try to reframe the experience in a way that embraces these jitters!

Go in with an open mind

Your date will probably be just as nervous as you. Plus, remember that you can’t control everything, it’s probable that throughout your lifetime you’ll have to sit through the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to dating. And the best part is that you’ll be learning about yourself all the way through . Of course that’s not to say it will go poorly! So maybe just imagine you’re going to see a mate to have a fun evening and approach the experience with an open mind.

4. How to date drinkers when you’re dating sober?

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First of all, consider why you are dating this person in the first place? If you have similar interests or values, then whether or not you’re drinking likely won’t be a concern. But it can feel uncomfortable at first. Try to consider it from their point of view too. What is it like for them to date someone who isn’t drinking?

At the end of the day, if your date is not comfortable with you declining a drink, you may want to reconsider whether you really want to spend time with them. Because, what dating sober does, is allow you the clarity of mind and sensory sensitivity to more realistically perceive the chemistry between you.

Plus if you’re in the early stages of seeing someone, know that, while it helps to be honest, you don’t owe anyone your life story or the reasons why you’re not having a drink.
And on top of all of that, you may actually open their eyes to a world of non-alcohol related possibilities. They might just love you for that.

How to deal with negativity from other people

“I was met with a lot of doubt and a lot of resistance,” Maz Compton told us last week, as she reflected on the reactions that others had when she changed her relationship with alcohol.

We often hear about the difficulties that the Hello Sunday Morning community come across when they decide to take a new look at their relationship with alcohol. The loudest of these rumblings seem to come from the same place: other people. Namely, other people’s reactions to your decision to change your drinking habits.

We’ve considered a few things you can try to tackle this doubt head-on and stay on course.

Tackle doubt

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Doubt is a slippery thing. It can begin to encroach from all angles of our social circles, arising from co-workers, family, and even from our closest friends. Often others’ doubt of our ability to succeed starts to bleed into our own confidence levels, stirring baneful self-doubt within us.

Use others’ doubt to your advantage

Our advice here is to take a leaf from Maz’s book, and use others’ doubt as motivation.

In this popular YouTube video, the narrator expresses that their most powerful motivation comes from people who told them they couldn’t do something. Because when they were told they couldn’t do it, they were bound and determined to show their doubters that they could. Use that power to prove others wrong.

This also highlights an important point about control, or rather the lack thereof, which we have over other people and their personal beliefs. Instead of focusing on what others are thinking or doing, focus on what you can control, your own thoughts and your own behaviour.

You gotta have faith

The best way to focus on things within your control? Channel George Michael and keep faith that you’ve got this. And we mean really, truly believe. As the uncontested Queen of reinvention, Oprah, proclaims, you ultimately become what you believe. And while this retains a twinge of psychobabble-self-help-guidance, the basic principles turn out to be empirically supported in the form of “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy essentially refers to how much you believe you will succeed at a task and, interestingly, is associated with positive outcomes. That is,  if you think you can succeed, you are, believe it or not, more likely to succeed. Cool, right?

Stay social

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Now, we’re well aware that within most corners of contemporary society, the association between drinking and socialising remains pretty persistent. But just because you are taking a booze break or cutting back, does not mean you have to throw out your social calendar.  

You’re cutting out alcohol, not friends. Wine, not dinner. Beer, not footy. You don’t want to fall into the trap of resenting your decision to improve your relationship with alcohol because you no longer do the things you love

Maintain your sense of self

You’re still the same person you always were. You are still fun. You are still capable of celebrating and being joyous. And while the decision not to drink does not define you, for most of us, our social interactions (do on some level) stand to shape our identities.

You’re cutting out alcohol, not friends. Wine, not dinner. Beer, not footy. You don’t want to fall into the trap of resenting your decision to improve your relationship with alcohol because you no longer do the things you love. Of course, that’s not to say that you need to become more extroverted and social than you naturally are. If you want to go out, go out. If you want to stay in, so be it.

Relationships might change

Still, we won’t sugarcoat it. Sometimes with a lifestyle change like this, the nature of our relationships also change. These changes could stem from you, or, from your social circles. Either way they are difficult. But you never know until you’re out in there in the social wilderness.

Know your audience

Audience applauding gif

There are times when you will feel comfortable being honest to fellow party-goers, to whom you won’t need to provide any more of an explanation than, “I just don’t want to drink tonight.”

However, it is likely you’ll encounter certain situations during which you’ll feel far less comfortable with sobriety. Sometimes the pressure to drink (aka beer pressure) can be pretty overwhelming, and depending on your social environment can even feel hostile.

There are a couple of things you can do.

Play the part

Essentially, grab a booze-free bevy in a nice glass, and don’t bring it up. Chances are that people are most concerned with what’s in their own glass.

Locate comrades

At any social event, you will certainly not be the only non drinker. Others might have early mornings to wake up for, diets to maintain, children to attend to, cars to drive, or may be taking a break themselves. You could also find a sober buddy to accompany you on escapades out on the town. Sometimes it just helps to have another person by your side.

Empathise with your companions

The first step in understanding the people who are giving you a hard time, is to consider where they’re coming from. For example, it is possible they haven’t realised that the way they’re projecting doubt or pressure onto you is making you uncomfortable. Plus, it is entirely likely they themselves are assuming (along with the rest of the world) that we need alcohol in order to have fun, and their concern is actually whether you are having a good time.

That said, changing your relationship with alcohol is, in truth, difficult. Other people’s negativity and doubt does not make the process any easier. But at the end of the day, this is about your relationship with alcohol, not theirs. So do all you can to plan for and empower yourself in certain situations, and always put yourself first.