Alcohol and meeting the parents

Meeting the family of your significant other is an important part of being in a relationship. That said, it is almost universally agreed that the experience can be nerve-racking. In this week’s animation we explore the experience and the roles that alcohol may play in it.

But while moderating the night before seems like an easy win on paper, it takes a lot more to make your desired first impression. We’ve put together a checklist of things to consider before you meet the parents – or any other stressful social engagement.

How to conquer meeting the parents:

Attitude

You got this!
Let’s be honest: appearances do count.

Go in with a positive and open attitude. As memorable former leader of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, once stated, “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Contemporary research into positive attitudes suggests that almost everything is best approached in this way, not barring meeting your partner’s parents. So even though it may be tempting, try not to dwell on things that could go wrong. Think instead of all the things that could go right! With this frame in mind, you are more likely to be relaxed and be yourself.

Appearance

No matter how superficial it seems, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves that appearances and first impressions do count. From what you wear to how you hold conversation, all of these things are open to scrutiny. What’s more, these impressions take only seconds to form. But luckily, getting in a good first impression isn’t too onerous:

  • Usually, you should dress simple and conservative for the occasion, but it may be worth asking your partner about the level of formality their family usually dines in. At the end of the day, do make sure you feel comfortable as this ease will shine.
  • Remember to bring a gift. You needn’t go overboard but it is a nice gesture, and chocolate is always appreciated.  
  • Mind your manners. While dinner table etiquette is generally not as archaic as it used to be, it doesn’t hurt to be polite. Please and thank you!
  • Stay off your phone. Clearly this is also basic dinner table etiquette, but given the difficulty of this task we thought it could do with its own bullet point.

Intention

Think about what you will drink before and during the big meeting
Plan your drinking ahead of time.

Why are you meeting your partner’s family? Of course, you want them to like you, but perhaps consider it in terms of trying to actually get to know them. Your other half has spent most their life around these folks; what are they like? You are spending time with someone you care about and their family, so while it is natural to be nervous, it could ultimately end up being an enjoyable experience. So do what you would normally do during a dinner or social gathering with people you care about; offer to help out; feed the conversation; and enjoy the food. Simply put, plan to be a good house guest.

Perspective

Finally, put things into perspective. Just like the point above, think about why you are there in the first place. In fact, try framing it as though you are finally getting the chance to meet the family. Relax. Don’t overthink it. Do it for them!

Drinking

Will you be drinking? You may be feeling tempted to use the booze to help with nerves. But did you know that alcohol can actually aggravate symptoms of anxiety? Ultimately, you are the expert on your own drinking. Whether you are having a couple of drinks or none, pick your limit and stick to it. Discuss your plan with your partner so that you are both in the know.

Considered all of the above? Yes? Then go forth, greet with confidence and do it for them!

Find your purpose

HelloSundayMorning-kayak

Masterchef winner Andy Allen took over Hello Sunday Morning’s social media accounts last weekend, and with this came a fascinating reflection on purpose and the role that alcohol plays in how we materially contend with meaning in our lives. Andy reflected on his experiences with alcohol growing up, realising that being hungover on Sunday morning often led him to miss out on experiences, like going fishing with his dad, that meant a lot to him as a person.

We can hear you saying, “not another one of those (often parodied) chirpy, self-help, motivation articles!” But all jokes aside, we know that drinking eats away at our time and can easily become a substitute for meaningful pursuits. In fact, life dissatisfaction has been found to be associated with adverse alcohol use. The more you drink, the stronger the relationship between the two. So it is unfortunate but understandable that many can feel a reduced sense of purpose after cutting back on alcohol.

To help you through this process, here we suggest a few ways to discover (or rediscover) your purpose.

How to find your purpose

Reflect, reflect reflect.

giphy

What brings you joy? What are your values, dreams and aspirations? It’s crucial that you take the time to reflect on this. You could write a journal entry, have a good chinwag with a friend, or maybe set aside time to simply sit and meditate on these core issues. It is important to consider the bigger picture and contemplate the persistent themes and motifs in your life.

Bringing it all together, one of the best hacks we’ve found to reinforce purpose in life is to think about what we wanted to be as children. It doesn’t mean that you should drop everything and become an astronaut, but it gives you a great insight into your driving motivations. By now you may have missed the cut-off for NASA, but you will have a refreshed understanding of your innate drive to explore. Tony Robbins’ fevered motivational speaking really hit the nail on the head back in the 80s. ‘Just stop and think about what is most important’ he says, ‘think about why you are here’.  

Focus on your relationships

Joey-Chandler-Laugh-Point-On-Friends-Gif

From first dates to family gatherings, alcohol has long had a role to play in many of our relationships. And that is fine; we are not here to argue that alcohol doesn’t have its place. However, when it begins to overpower the connection you have with another person, the value of alcohol’s so-called ‘social lubrication’ rapidly diminishes.

In 1938 psychologists at Harvard embarked upon a 75-year-long study on happiness and fulfilment. Lo and behold, the key finding: good relationships are important. Our relationships to our friends, partners and families all stand to shape our identities, and make us physically and psychologically healthier while allowing us to live longer and more fulfilling lives. Interestingly, this same study highlighted the detrimental effects alcohol misuse can have on our relationships, and ultimately, on our lives.

But, what is that you say? How to nurture your relationships sans alcohol? We’re glad you asked! Laughter and storytelling, for example, have both been suggested as alternatives to alcohol as tools for feeling at ease while socialising. But ultimately, know that if you’re approaching your relationships honestly, you will in time find that you no longer need the veil of alcohol to cloak your connections.

Get out of your comfort zone.adventure

Part of the difficulty of cutting back on alcohol is that you are fighting your routine both psychologically and physically. So why not find a new routine and rhythm? If you decide to opt out of Friday night drinks or stick to sodas on Saturday, your evenings and mornings are no longer taken up by boozing and its aftermath. You have reclaimed the most precious of all commodities … time.

What is the idea that has long been kicking around in the back of your mind? Writing, learning a language, starting a business or practicing the guitar, maybe? Do something new, revisit something old, but whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly. These things we call hobbies are in no way peripheral to our lives, even though we sometimes see them as such. They are activities that allow us to be joyful and creative; they are crucial human sensibilities, providing a platform on which to experience mastery and create meaning.

Relax

relaxed2

Right, all cards on the table. Some of us take a while to figure out our purpose. All around the world there are people at 30, 60 and even at 90 years of age who are still sort of unsure. But it is okay. Your quest for meaning does not need to be marked by a jaw-dropping epiphany. It can be smaller. Like Andy, it could be realising that family is important to you, that you enjoy writing or that you would like to travel more. Then acting on this realisation.

Stanford researchers have found that two things, passion and action, sit at the helm of purpose.

Building on this, contemporary philosopher Dan Dennett says that in pursuit of purpose, you must ‘find something more important than you are, and dedicate your life to it’. By saying hello to your Sunday morning, you are carving out time for your something. Good luck!   

 

Going to a wedding sober

The prospect of going sober to a wedding is daunting. Weddings and booze go hand in hand so often that they should be the ones walking down the aisle.  

Despite this (or, more likely, because of this) the achievement is not only possible, but can be life-changing. Data from our app suggests that attending a wedding sober is the single most powerful way to change your relationship with alcohol in the long term.

Going sober to a wedding is no small feat, so here we have considered the burning questions you’re probably asking in anticipation of the big day.

How to go to a wedding sober

What will people say?  

Words of encouragement were as rare as a good wedding DJ
… rare as a good wedding DJ

One of the most difficult challenges when going sober to a social event is dealing with other people. Weddings are among the trickiest – you may only know a handful of people, and chances are they themselves will be imbibing. When people ask why you are not drinking, remember that it typically comes from someone who themselves associates alcohol with having fun. Most likely they’re just concerned that you’re not enjoying yourself. Plus, you’re actually in a great place to meet new people; just like Lionel Richie’s hit from the 80s, it all starts with hello.

So let your hair down, make a new friend and keep that sense of humour.

What should I drink?

This my dear friends, is a coco twist mocktail
This is an opportunity to get creative with your drinks.

Something we hear a lot from Hello Sunday Morning members is a fear of being caught without a glass in hand during these occasions. The age old question ‘What am I supposed to hold in my hands?’ arises. The answer can be as complicated as a glass of barrel aged cherry soda. Or as simple as soda water, maybe in a wine glass if you’re feeling ritzy. There are even people trying to replicate the taste of alcohol in non-alcoholic beverages – the options these days are endless. So get creative! And remember that at the end of the day you are the only person who cares about what is in your glass.

What if I slip up?

It was time for my big day
Planning for your big day is vital.

The most important thing to do is plan. By reading this post you’re already well on your way.

What will the day look like for you? What about the day after the wedding? If you’re at one of those ever-popular weekend weddings, take the chance to explore your surroundings. Close to home? Volunteer for breakfast duty. Either way, think up something fun to do the next morning. You might also want to nominate yourself as designated driver, giving you another reason to say no to a brew. There is power in planning.

But, hey, if you do decide to have a drink, try setting a speed limit of one drink an hour and see how you feel.

Weddings are fun!

First wedding worm without a bloody nose!
Dance up a storm!

Most important of all, you are at a celebration! Without alcohol, weddings are still enjoyable places to be. You are surrounded by amazing food, wonderful people and have free rein to dance up a storm.

So shine your shoes, grab some confetti and get ready to take on this challenge!

 

How to conquer Dry July

Hello Sunday Morning men playing basketball for Dry July. Change your relationship with alcohol.

This week, Australians from all walks of life will embark on a month without alcohol in support of Dry July, an initiative to raise money for cancer alongside remarkably similar campaigns such as FebFast and Ocsober.

But it’s not all beer and skittles: there is an active debate about the long-term effectiveness of these programs. A number of limitations from a public health perspective include a lack of long term support for the behaviour change process, and confusing people with an “all or nothing” message about alcohol. The option of buying a “golden ticket,” for example, allows the purchaser to take a night off from the challenge and is considered by critics to encourage binge drinking. In terms of cultural change, seeing a brief period of abstinence as an inherently monstrous task probably serves to reinforce the importance of alcohol in our lives and proves ultimately ineffective, if not destructive.  

But don’t get us wrong: it’s great to hear the volume increasing when we talk about alcohol consumption. We’re here to help you use movements like Dry July as steps towards a more conscious drinking culture, and change your own relationship with alcohol.

How to use Dry July to change your relationship with alcohol

Feel good about it

Some of us feel fine about our relationship with alcohol. However, it is only when we take a break and realise how our bodies and minds feel without it that we begin to second guess ourselves. This realisation can be the first stepping stone to delve a little deeper and become a more conscious drinker.

Find support during the challenge

Let’s not kid ourselves: entirely avoiding alcohol for a month is an arduous task, and support goes a long way. Whether you have some mates doing the challenge with you, or turn to the Hello Sunday Morning community, knowing that others are with you can make all the difference. Many members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have done similar challenges and felt empowered by their achievement.

Never thought I'd get though a Febfast unbroken, its quite amazing. Interesting seeing peoples reactions to me not drinking, some supportive, some curious, some slightly disgruntled that I'm sticking to it. The last are the most interesting and they made me even more determined to see this through. This is the longest time in 5 years that I have gone without a drink. Feels strange, somewhat comforting yet sort of annoying that I can't or wont have a drink. Will take it one day at a time, want to stay off the grog, whilst at the same time, wish to have a glass of something. Know I cant have 'just one drink', because if I do it will lead to more and I will be back at square one.
Challenges like Dry July have been great for Hello Sunday Morning members.

New Perspectives

When members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have taken a break from alcohol in the past, their understanding of how we use alcohol in our social lives has evolved. According to our app data, attending a wedding sober and celebrating without alcohol, are most likely to lead to a change in your relationship with alcohol. Dry July similarly encourages participants to realise that alcohol is not a necessary component of socialising. No doubt over the month, those partaking in the challenge will be attending social events, entirely alcohol-free. For some people this may well be a first.

Approach

Most importantly, you should approach a challenge like Dry July mindfully. What does not drinking for a month mean for you? For your identity, for how you understand your relationship with alcohol? This also means allowing yourself to feel empowered rather than restricted during the challenge. By consciously reflecting on the process, you can reframe any ‘missteps’ as part of your journey, rather than as failures.

Dry July is a great opportunity to start changing your relationship with alcohol and say “Hello” to more Sunday mornings. We’re here to help.

 

Why brunch is the best way to connect with people

Maintaining friendships is difficult when you change your relationship with alcohol. But while socialising feels like it’s built around alcohol, it doesn’t need to be.

Brunch is a rising epidemic. From the humble weekly hangout through to birthdays and weddings, brunch is the answer to all and everything. But when your pals are faithful pub patrons, how do you convince them to switch from Saturday night drinks to Sunday morning brunch?

How to catch up with friends without alcohol

Remind them of the power of food as a uniting force.

Humans have been socialising over meals for most of our history. Believe it or not, brunch itself has been around for at least 100 years. However, its form today is nothing short of celestial as food has matured into much more than simple sustenance.

Brunch and catching up with friends without alcohol with Hello Sunday Morning
Are your mates at brunch, too?

Variety

Brunch is eggs, brunch is burritos and brunch is cake. No other meal compares in variety. Plus, because you are squeezing two meals into one, you can eat all of this without the guilt. Would you like ice cream with your pancakes, bacon and eggs? We say, why not?

Oh, excuse me! Can I get some vegan maple syrup?
… with my deconstructed bacon dust?

Brunch pleases everyone

This is the one meal where the vegetarian options might outdo the carnivorous ones. Mums can bring their babies (both human and canine welcome) and while we don’t condemn infants in inns, the practice is typically frowned upon. Don’t like dressing up? Active wear is on trend. Single and looking? Cafés are the ideal sanctuary to survey other humans over your steaming latte. Brunch is for the people!

Connection

Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Lifelong friendships have long been carved in between swathes of smashed avo and vibrant free range yolks. The conversation you have with a mate at the pub, bellowing and gesticulating over noise in that crowded echo chamber, just doesn’t compare. For social connection, brunch is the clear winner. Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Hello Sunday Morning and meaningful friendships without alcohol over brunch
To me, it’s the most meaningful time of the week

The brunch boom

Where the pub reigned for most of Australian history, brunch venues are taking up residence. They allow us to meet like-minded people in open settings, and provide a place for cultivation of identity and examination of meaning.

You don’t need to give up your social life when you change your relationship with alcohol. Invite your friends to say Hello Sunday Morning over brunch.

How to balance alcohol and travel

Grog and Travel have long gone together about as naturally as the other G&T. From beachside beers in Thailand to crowded pub crawls in Prague, alcohol makes an appearance in almost every holiday plan. And to some degree, throwing back a few beers at the hostel bar really can seem like the perfect formula for bonding with fellow travellers. But when drinking becomes the focal point of your travel activities, it can quickly feel like you aren’t making the most of your time away. Not to mention the hangovers, all the more agonising when you have to wake up for that early morning hike.

The challenge of saying Hello Sunday Morning as a booze traveler
I just wanna go out … Just one, maybe? Just one?

Tips to cut back as a booze traveler

This week we challenge you to review your travel drinking habits in our latest animation. Making the decision to take it easy with alcohol during your travels, or even taking a break altogether, can be really difficult, but it may well lead you to discovering the perfect Sunday morning. So we’re here to help you make the choice, maximising both time and money to spend on incredible travel experiences.

This is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone

Say Hello Sunday Morning as a booze traveller even if it means going to another art gallery
Another gallery … I don’t get it. Do I need a drink, to get it?

Try new activities and seek new horizons. Watching the daybreak from a mountain top, hiking through the rainforest or making the most of local museums are just a few examples of rewarding alcohol-free activities to try out.

Focus on learning about regional cuisines

I mean, who doesn’t travel with the intention of eating your weight in local cuisine these days? Just take it up a level!

And while you’re at it, why not get a taster of local non-alcoholic drinks. You could even make your way through a list of national soft drinks. One of our greatest senses is taste. Dive in the deep end and explore the palates of the locals, which comes with the unparalleled opportunity to bond with friends and meet new people. I mean, who doesn’t travel with the intention of eating your weight in local cuisine these days? Just take it up a level!

Tuesday, I swear I ate every pizza in the city. Hello Sunday Morning booze traveler
Why couldn’t I find a good pizza? Didn’t these guys invent it?

Prepare for the day

It may seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly difficult to do. Trust us. A great life-hack for feeling great at the end of a huge day exploring, or, you know, melting away on the beach, is to keep snacks and trusty ol’ H2O in your back pocket. It’ll keep you hydrated and is well known to curb your hankering for a brew or six.

Consider for a minute why we travel in the first place. Be it to relax, learn new things or meet interesting people, alcohol is not really necessary for any of these things.

Bring it back to the present and see how much you can squeeze out of your holiday. Say Hello/Hola/Ni Hao to Sunday morning.

Saving is hard. Try starting a booze bank

Something new is on the horizon for Hello Sunday Morning. As of last Sunday, we’re rolling out a weekly series of helpful and inspirational content based on the top challenges from the Hello Sunday Morning mobile app. By looking into anonymised user data, we have found that participation in certain Hello Sunday Morning challenges positively correlates with changing one’s drinking behaviours. Thinking of our mission to change the world’s relationship with alcohol, we decided to latch onto this insight and release a series of short weekly videos to further explore these challenges for as many people as possible, and support you on your journey.

The first challenge we’ve considered is the booze-bank.

Saving money with a booze bank

This involves setting aside all the money you would otherwise have spent on alcohol at any one time. How exactly you go about it is up to you you. You may want to stick to waters during after-work drinks, or you may only have one drink instead of four, and save the difference. It depends on your goals.

With Australians spending $14.1 billion on alcohol each year, we’re sure many may find it a compelling argument to claim back their part of that total.

Have you been thinking of taking an art class, or finally investing in a gym membership? Maybe you have been pining for a holiday or are considering buying a new bike? Is there something in your life that could use a little more attention from your wallet?

A booze-bank might be your solution. Dream as big or as small as you like.

Of course, we’re not saying it will be a breeze; challenge is definitely the right word. But just wait till you start seeing those tenners stacking up!

Some Hello Sunday Morning members who have tackled this challenge managed to save hundreds of dollars a week by cutting back, and often looked forward to the process. Many of us don’t realise how much we spend on alcohol in the first place – the amount you spend, and therefore save, may surprise you. What’s more, with the growth of alcohol tax around the world, drinking is not getting any cheaper.

Here’s to your wealth!