Today I choose to not drink; with Osher Günsberg

We chat to Osher Günsberg, one of Australia’s most recognised TV hosts, about how he learned to change his relationship with alcohol by taking it one day at a time.

Osher shares that he lives a great life now and can choose how he spends each day. This wasn’t the case eight years ago.

“There was a time when I could tell you exactly how my day would end. I no longer had a choice. I look at the way I lived when I was still drinking and I guess now what I get to do is live a life in contrary action to that.”

“Making the choice to not drink everyday, allowed me to redefine who I was as a man.”


Osher started to realise how embedded alcohol was in our culture and how socially acceptable it was to use it as a way to self-medicate. For Osher, it was managing his nerves and anxiety.

“It’s in every piece of pop culture, ‘Oh I need a drink, I had a shit of a day’. Everyone’s fine with it and for some people that’s okay, but for me I had started to use it to be able to function. The amount that I needed to feel okay eventually become unmanageable and I needed it to stop.”

When Osher had this realisation he reached out to a sober friend to ask how he managed to quit drinking.

“He told me he went to meetings and I asked him if I could come to one of those meetings with him, and he said sure.

I always thought sobriety was sad people drinking bad coffee on plastic chairs under a church. I didn’t know that sobriety could look like this guy who was fit, healthy and talented.”

You have to make the decision

Osher wrote down in a Journal the day he decided to start his journey towards an alcohol-free life:

“I won’t have a drink until I can have a healthy relationship with alcohol.”

He admitted that it was too much at first to say ‘that’s it, I’m never drinking again’; he had to trick himself.

“I remember at one point, one of the people helping me through it said all you have to do is just get to 10 o’clock tonight when your head hits the pillow without having a drink and you’ll be fine. So I got to 10 o’clock that night and put my head on the pillow and went, ‘well, there you go, I did it. It was hard, but I did it.’ The next day was just a tiny bit easier and the next day a tiny bit easier than that.”

“Sometimes it got smaller and I made the decision not to drink that hour.”


You need support

Within six weeks or so the possibility was evident to Osher that perhaps he could never have a drink again. However, by then he was okay with that. Osher said it wasn’t until he started to explore the reasons why he was drinking that it became easier not to. He went to meetings, worked with a therapist doing CBT, and explored other things and new people to inspire him. As well as finding meaningful work to do.

“There’s a big difference between being sober and not drinking.

Not drinking is – ‘I’m gritting my teeth and carving my fingernails into the desk here just to get through this shitty day and wishing that I could have a drink.’ Being sober is – ‘I’m okay with living life the way it is and I’m okay with the ups and downs.’

There’s a big difference with learning the skills and management strategies from your own emotions to get through those difficult times without turning to alcohol.”

One day at a time

Osher says the most important thing when changing your behaviour is to break it down and just get through that time.

“Sometimes it might be like, ‘I’m not going to have a drink before lunch. Then you get to lunch and say, ‘I’m not going to have a drink before dinner and you grit your teeth after sunset and say, ‘you know what? I’m going to go to bed today without having a drink’. Sometimes you make that choice not once a day, but ten times a day.”

“If you’re no longer making choices in your life because of your drinking I would say to you – what are you doing to yourself? To your family? And to your own happiness?”


Feature image by Who Magazine

What Comes After Dry July?

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of people who are taking part in initiatives like Dry July, Ocsober, FebFast and others. You might say that an increased focus on public health by high profile organisations and sponsored by high profile public figures, is a universally positive thing.

This is because we are rethinking our patterns of consumption. These initiatives also give us the opportunity to break patterns of behaviour that we know to be harmful and occasionally destructive. In addition to this, we are given the opportunity to raise money at the same time – to support just those causes.

Opening up a conversation

Approaches like this are a world away from twenty years ago, when the thought of going for a month without alcohol was derided and mocked. The normalisation and visibility of these campaigns has opened up the conversation about why someone might choose to take a break from alcohol and made it possible for people to openly say that they are choosing to abstain. 


There is only one potential issue with approaches like this. From a behavioural perspective, addressing an issue like alcohol consumption by going ‘cold turkey’ might not actually result in lasting changes. When we are considering our relationship with alcohol, we are acknowledging that it is a part of our lives, day-to-day. Stopping for a month may be a good way to get into shape and have a break, but we are not necessarily working on the way that we use alcohol itself.

Positive Change?

For some people who do Dry July, their experience of having a month off alcohol will be so positive and profound that they may never drink again. For the majority of people, however, they will return to drinking and likely slip back into old habits and patterns of alcohol use. As a psychologist, I often have clients describing a positive experience doing Dry July. Things like improved mood, weight loss, more energy and money saved, are then undermined by what happens when alcohol is reintroduced.

From a behavioural perspective, it is nearly impossible to change the relationship with something when it is out of your life. You actually need to be coming into contact with it in order to understand how to best manage it!

Many of my clients express frustration about how well they did in Dry July and then the issues they have had with starting to drink again and feeling that nothing has really changed. The big challenge is finding a way to still have alcohol in their lives, while not necessarily using it every day, and in large quantities.

Consider you were going into relationship counselling with your partner. Yes, you would likely benefit from individual sessions. From these sessions you might get some insight into relational patterns and how you are being affected by the relationship problems. However, the real work would be done in the sessions with your partner. This is when your triggers are activated, when you have to struggle and experience in real life some of the issues that have led you to make changes.

It is the same with alcohol. Changing our relationship with alcohol is, essentially, a learning experience. We must re-learn how to use alcohol and how to manage its effect on us. Taking a break and then hoping we have ‘reset’ may not be enough. It is beneficial but is not really a longer term option, particularly if we intend on reintroducing alcohol into our lives again at some point.

So, if you are nearing the end of Dry July, what kinds of things might be helpful to keep up the momentum and observe some lasting changes? Here are some ideas:

– Consider what you might like your relationship with alcohol to look like. What kinds of things did you enjoy about Dry July? Was it the increased energy, better health or financial savings? How might you need to moderate your intake of alcohol to still see these benefits?

– If you are wanting to re-introduce alcohol into your week, consider what kinds of goals you might have. Whether it is four alcohol free days a week, or setting a limit on the amount you drink each day, think about what might be realistic for you.

– Reflect on how much you are currently drinking in a week (eg. 3 standard drinks each day, equalling 21 standard drinks per week), and see if you can set a new goal for yourself. Most of the risks that are associated with alcohol come from drinking daily and in high quantities, so reducing one of those variables is likely to be beneficial.

– Consider what is happening behind the scenes of your alcohol use. Is it being used to manage stress, deal with negative emotions, or temporarily lift your mood? Developing other strategies that can meet these needs may mean that alcohol feels less necessary. For example, having a shower and getting into comfortable clothes at the end of the day might be helpful in ‘closing a chapter’ on the day.

– Be curious about patterns and themes with your alcohol use. Perhaps there are some friends that you are likely to drink to excess around, or certain situations (after work, when alone, when nervous) that alcohol is being over-used. Similarly, perhaps there are some situations where you don’t feel like drinking at all, or at the very least do not struggle with the urge to have another drink.

– Set expectations with those around you. if you are wanting to make some longer-term changes with your alcohol usage, let those who are close to you know what your goals are, and what you might like from them. Even asking a partner not to buy wine on the way home, or organising coffee with friends rather than drinks, can be a useful way to set up situations that will support you to change. This way you’re not in a situation where drinking is expected.

So if you are nearing the end of Dry July – well done! It is a great first step in making a big change in your relationship with alcohol. At this stage you will likely be conscious of a lot of things that might trigger an urge to drink, as well as the strategies that are effective in doing things other than having a drink. Now is a great time to consider what you might like the rest of your year to look like and how you might be able to create lasting change.

What I learnt about drinking cultures when I thought I knew everything

“A world where confidence and identity aren’t measured in standard servings …”

This is a line from our organisational mission at Hello Sunday Morning. It’s a clever way of bringing a serious issue around Australian drinking cultures to light. How many people do you know that drink to boost confidence or would consider drinking as part of their identity? It’s troubling to me; not the drinking, but the ‘how’ and ‘why’ we drink.

I was never a big drinker. I would never dream of pressuring anyone into drinking and was completely comfortable to say ‘no’ if I felt pressured myself. This was simply my ‘normal’ – it was never something I reflected on. Despite this, working at Hello Sunday Morning has taught me so many things about our drinking cultures. This is exactly why I believe each and every one of us has something to learn and reflect on, whether we think we do or not.

I wanted to take the opportunity to outline a few of the key things I’ve learnt as someone who truly thought I had nothing to learn.

1. It is very hard to detach yourself from a cultural norm, especially when you don’t even realise you’re accustomed to one.

When I applied for my role at Hello Sunday Morning one year ago, my first thought was, “Oh man, I guess I have to stop drinking if I want to work here.”

Looking back, of course that was my first thought. Of course I was worried that my friends would think I’m a loser for working with a company they perceived to be against drinking. Of course I struggled with the idea of giving it up completely, even though I didn’t drink that much in the first place. I didn’t realise that thoughts like this were exactly why Hello Sunday Morning existed: to empower people to have whatever relationship with alcohol they wanted, as long as it was the best one for them. I now pick up on all the little cues that it’s something deeply embedded in our society. My friends don’t peer pressure at all and seem comfortable with each other’s decisions, yet I still haven’t managed to go out and say no to alcohol without the classic, “Oh, do you have to drive? That sucks.” I find myself getting the pity card a lot, and this would never have bothered me before when I was still attached to the expectation myself. Only now do I notice these subtle hints, and I find myself slightly offended that it’s such an unreasonable thing for me to simply not feel like drinking tonight. I simply ‘must’ be driving.

Having now been exposed to a vast range of people with different relationships to alcohol, from sobriety and moderation, all the way to weekend binge drinking or dependence, I also empathise with the people who do struggle. These extremely subtle lines from people who don’t think they are saying anything wrong can actually affect someone in a much more complex way. My reason for not drinking may have been because I didn’t feel like it, but you never know what someone’s reason might be. There’s a chance it’s not something they want to be reminded of, and in fact, it could be dangerous to their health to make these assumptions. By detaching myself from the current drinking culture, I now never make an assumption as to why someone isn’t drinking. For me, it is as simple as saying, “Okay, cool,” and moving on with the conversation.

2. When it came down to it, I didn’t really have any good reason to drink. Ever.

When I really looked deep into my drinking and thought about why I did it, the reasons just didn’t seem to measure up to what I thought I knew about myself. Before you start thinking I’m going to preach about sobriety, I’m not. I still drink even after this discovery, but I’ve simply changed my reasons for doing it. On the outside, not much is different. But on the inside, I feel like a new person.

I used to drink to fit in with what everyone else was doing, or because I was at a bar, or because it was happy hour so I may as well take advantage of a $5 glass of wine. But now, I drink because it’s a hot day and I love the taste of a Pimms and ginger ale in the sunshine, or because I’m sharing a cocktail jug with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while and I’m enjoying our time together, or because this wood-fired pizza would really suit a Pinot Noir to match. Changing my reasons for drinking has helped me appreciate the rare occasions I do crave a drink, because now I take the time to think about the reason on each occasion, rather than mindlessly follow through.

Having this realisation has also been great for my wallet. Now, I actually ask myself if there is something I’d rather spend $18 on than a cocktail (usually the answer is yes!). Without even realising it, I’ve stopped ‘going with the flow’ of having multiple alcoholic drinks with friends and I’m usually happy with just the one. I would also certainly not recommend keeping up with your friends by drinking non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night – speaking from the experience of a terrible, sugary, ginger beer hangover last New Year’s Day. Turns out that’s a thing!

3. We. Are. All. Different.

Something I never understood before was just how differently everyone reacts to alcohol. Giving life advice on how somebody should change their relationship with alcohol, based on your own personal experience, is not the smartest idea. There has been a lot of change in the world lately and we’ve learnt to become a lot more accepting and supportive of people who are ‘different’. People are opening up about experiences that others might not understand, and we’re learning how to find communities who are similar to us in these ways. Understanding a relationship with alcohol is no different. Some people are more prone to developing an alcohol dependency, while others have no issue with only having a couple of drinks. Some experience horrible symptoms after only one or two drinks, while others could drink all night and wake up with no hangover. Some experience a hangover as a headache and are fine after a late morning lying in bed, while others experience hangovers as a wave of anxiety and depression that could last for days. The list goes on.

However, in saying this, I’m not only trying to bring to light that people who don’t suffer as much should be more respectful and considerate of those who do. This is a two-way street, where those who struggle can learn to understand that not everybody has the same experiences as them. Sometimes alcohol is not a good idea for one person, but for another, it’s not so harmful and choosing to drink moderately isn’t a shameful thing.

So, if you’re like me, and think you’re pretty comfortable with the way you drink, I’d really encourage you to take a moment just to think about it as deeply as you can. Start getting into the habit of asking yourself, “Why am I really having this drink?” every time you go for a sip. Consider if the reason really comes down to your personal choice or a cultural expectation. Let’s measure our lives in smiles, good times, high fives or sunrises, rather than standard servings.

Reverse your thinking – focus on what you want​

 

An excerpt from A Happier Hour, written by Sexy Sobriety‘s Rebecca Weller. Sexy Sobriety is an online life-coaching program designed for women who are ready to take control of their lives and unleash their authentic selves onto the world.

Back when I was in my corporate ​job, we were encouraged to take a ‘Defensive Driving’ course that involved performing a variety of manoeuvres on a race track. In one of the exercises, we were instructed to speed up and then slam on the brakes and avoid hitting a particular safety cone. Despite our best efforts, we all hit that cone.

We tried the activity again, but this time, rather than focusing on the cone, we were instructed to look for a safe place to steer the car. Same distance, same speed, same brakes; just a different intention and focus.

​We were stunned. Every single one of us avoided the cone.

Our instructor explained that if something or someone jumps out in front of you, the worst thing you can do is look straight at it as you’re trying to avoid it. You need to focus on where you want to go, rather than where you don’t want to go.The lesson was powerful and I often found myself telling clients about it. Time and again, I noticed that when we focus on our fears, we often smash into them. And if we’re not focusing on where we really want to go, how can we expect to get there?

When it came to drinking, how many times had I given myself a lecture about not making a fool of myself, or letting the night get too messy, only to find that’s exactly where I’d ended up? Too many to count.

I thought about the next three months and everything I wanted to do, see, hear, taste, and experience in that time. Above all, I thought about how I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel playful, with confidence that was authentically me, not poured from a bottle. I wanted deeper connections, less anxiety, more space, more love, more potential. I wanted transformation, dammit!

I didn’t want to undertake a challenge that would make me miserable, and I was determined to make this experience a positive one. Sensing that overwhelm was not my friend, I decided to start with just two words of intention that inspired me most. I opened my journal to a fresh page, and wrote, My Sobriety Experiment.

My biggest fear around sobriety was that I’d never have fun again, so I decided to start with the big one. On the next line, I wrote, Playful. I thought about what playful meant to me. Creativity, fun, spontaneity, mischief, joy. I tapped my pen against the page, thinking about what I could do to feel that way without booze. I brainstormed on the page:

Choose love over fear. Trust. Believe. Tell jokes. Send funny messages to friends. Create fun, easy recipes. Schedule time off-line. Watch comedies. View each day as an adventure. Try new things. Take beautiful photos. Invite friends to lunch. Paint my toe nails. Create. Share. Skip. Giggle. Dance.

I took a deep breath as I reviewed my list. See? I told my inner critic. That doesn’t sound so bad. I turned the page and chose my next word, Radiant. I thought about what that word meant to me. Sparkly, healthy, glowing, connected, blissful. Obviously, just skipping the alcohol would guarantee that I felt infinitely more radiant, but what else could I do? I jotted down everything that came to mind:

Go to bed earlier. Stretch at sunrise. Juice. Run. Go to yoga class. Offer help. Eat fresh, whole foods. Feel sunshine on my skin. Splash around at the beach. Picnic in the park. Keep a gratitude journal. Meditate. Write. Create. Eat dinner by candlelight. Choose quality over quantity. Phone friends and family. Listen. Practice random acts of kindness.

I reviewed my lists, and started to feel tingles of excitement about this little adventure. Inspired, I switched on my laptop and created a secret Mood Board on Pinterest. I wanted something pretty I could look at on my phone whenever I felt wobbly; images to remind me how I wanted to feel, and why I was doing this. Why I wanted to change; what life might be like without this unhealthy habit; the kind of person I could become if I were free of its clutches.

Like a woman possessed, I spent hours clicking around the internet. Nutritious food, women doing yoga, women running on the beach, women splashing around in the ocean, click click click. Job done, and feeling marginally better about the whole endeavour, I decided to go one step further. I had a feeling this challenge would be one of the biggest of my life and I’d need all the safety nets I could possibly create.

For my birthday the previous year, Dom bought me the large vision board I’d been swooning over for months. It was gorgeous, with a huge expanse of white space to pin pictures, and a beautiful wooden frame, painted white. He’d kept it a surprise, filling the board with photos from our travels and other meaningful souvenirs. He snuck it into our study before coming in to meet me and a huge group of friends at a bar in the city. Naturally, because it was my birthday, I got rather silly indeed, downing cocktail after cocktail like it was the eve of Prohibition.

Dom had planned to surprise me with his thoughtful gift when we got home that night, but my actions robbed him, and myself, of the chance. I was a drunken mess and didn’t even remember the cab ride home. The next morning, when he took me into our study and showed it to me, I felt wretched with guilt and stupidity.

Now, I took a deep breath and lifted the board off the wall. It was time for an update: to the board, and to my life.

Learning how to savour

taste-good.gif How often have you sculled a delicious beverage? Or scoffed down a tasty meal without even thinking about how the food was prepared or how the flavours complement each other? What we are forgetting to do when we follow this behaviour is savour. Even moving away from the experience of food, sometimes we’re so preoccupied thinking about what to do after a beach walk that we forget to watch the waves, listen to the sea gulls and really feel the sand between our toes. While savouring involves pleasure, it is in fact more than that. It involves mindfulness and conscious attention to the experience of pleasure. When we are more aware, we notice and acknowledge pleasure., whether that be through feelings and emotions or through a stimulation of our senses. What this allows us to do is filter out distractions, and become awed by being in the world.  

The savouring experience 

giphy.gif Ever experienced a moment that you will never forget? This is savouring! When we reflect back on a treasured moment, often we can remember exactly what we were wearing, the smell in the air and the temperature outside because our minds took a mental photograph and we savoured a memory.

Practicing savouring is practicing mindfulness

giphy.gif Often we don’t find satisfaction from mindlessly doing. We can appreciate something more when we take the time to savour the thing and therefore experience a deeper level of gratitude. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the greatest mindfulness zen masters of our time, teaches us that “Each minute we spend worrying about the future and regretting the past is a minute we miss in our appointment with life – a missed opportunity to engage life and to see that each moment gives us the chance to change for the better, to experience peace and joy.” And like most things, it’s a practice

The health benefits of savouring

And if you weren’t already convinced, savouring is actually good for your health! For example, positive psychologists have found that savouring is protective against depression, while dieticians have found savouring food is both better for digestion and an excellent way to keep that bikini bod in shape.

So what can I learn to savour?

Often when we think of savouring, we think: wine. Sommeliers and amateur wine tasters are good examples of people who practice savouring. But as we’ve already mentioned, almost everything can be savoured. Bread can be savoured. The moment can be savoured. Even places can be savoured. So now we’ll consider how you can learn to savour what is lauded as the best drink of the day: tea. giphy.gif Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Although we often refer to the long history of alcohol in human society, tea is another substance that can compare in terms of cultural significance. We have a few ideas to get you on your way to becoming a tea connoisseur by practicing the art of savouring:

How to savour tea

  • Perform a tea ritual, where the process is not about actually drinking the tea but all about preparing and serving.

The best thing about savouring?

giphy.gif You can do it whenever, wherever. And if you happen to be around Sydney in October and want to put your new skills to the test, sink your teeth into Sydney’s Good Food Month and savour the flavours.  

How to develop a fitness habit and actually stick to it

Finished in time to still be #hellosundaymorning!

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, September 17, 2016



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. Many of us jump the gun when creating these sorts of goals. Expecting yourself to run five kilometres 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 de-stress 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

Michael Beveridge's sober punk fest

Tonight, Michael Beveridge is going to poison city records WEEKENDER FEST 2016 without a drink to see what saying #hellosundaymorning is all about. Watch it unfold on our Instagram, https://instagram.com/hello_sunday_morning/ – and we'll check back in here tomorrow to see how it went.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, September 10, 2016

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

giphy (3).gif

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.

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

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

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

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.

father_cry

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

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

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.

 

Dating sober: how to do it

Guide to sober number hunting

Asking for a number without a drink on board can seem hard. With thanks to our partner Vodafone Australia Foundation, we're here with some reasons you'll want to give it a go and say #hellosundaymorning.What are your tips?

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, August 13, 2016

 

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?

giphy (5).gif

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?

giphy.gif

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

Thoughts with Maz Compton

Maz Compton speaks with us about the challenges of changing her relationship with alcohol."I don't define myself by being a drinker or a non-drinker … I'm just a human doing my bit."How are you saying #hellosundaymorning today?

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, August 6, 2016

“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

Tackle gif

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

Social dancing gif

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.

How to go to a gig sober

The sober gig

How do you gig?Tim "The Swine" Turner is here to run you through the art of the sober gig – because saying #hellosundaymorning needn't change the events you go to. Rock on!

Hello Sunday Morning 发布于 2016年7月30日
Historically, mind altering substances and music have gone together naturally. Alcohol in particular has such a ubiquitous presence at social events that in some of these contexts, it’s considered inconceivable to forgo drinking. So we’ve considered the challenge of going to a gig sober.  Okay, so it sounds like a great idea but what does it take to actually pull this off? Here we have some suggestions for how to go to a gig, or any other social event, as sober as judge, and have an excellent time while you’re at it.
  1. Start small

    you can't go all-out at every one
    Realistically, you just can’t go all-out at every gig
Some might find that heading to a local, smaller gig to start with is a good way to have a solid crack at going sober to a social event. Of course, it depends on the atmosphere, but smaller venues might provide a better environment to observe your comfort level. You might realise that without alcohol, you get tired sooner, or that you need something to do with your hands. Caffeine can help and so can a glass of tonic water. Start out small to figure out what you need and what works best for you. 

2. Ask for support

Consider having a discussion with close friends or family about your decision to take on this challenge. Of course, this is easier said than done, but trust that genuine friends will want to look out for you. When Jezebel talked to author Sacha Scoblic about her book, Unwasted: my lush sobriety, one of the biggest takeaways was to talk to your friends. Scoblic suggests that your sobriety can benefit your friends, too, as you help them realise a new way of experiencing social events. You might even consider asking a mate to join in on being sober for the night. Think about the support you need to get through the evening, and then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Plus, you can talk to the folks who are heading to the upcoming event with you. Are you feeling anxious? Excited? Either way, let them know how you feel about making this choice.

3. Look forward to the show

Go to something you actually want to see. Be it a small show at the local pub HSM gig soberor a head-banging metal concert, whatever suits your fancy. But get excited! This way you’ll be able to try focus on the show itself as opposed to the drink you’d usually be downing.  Plus, alcohol’s depressant qualities kind of dull your senses. Without it, your eyes and ears can feast. In fact, considering the amazing way that music affects our brains, it’s not so far off the mark to describe music as a drug in and of itself (despite this fitting a painful loudmouth cliche).

4. Discover

Memories, my friends!
Discover the experience and create memories.
Discover the experience. The sights, the sounds, the whole shebang. Check out this account of a festival raver who discovered that the sober gig experience wasn’t just alright, it was better; suggesting that everyone should give it a go at least once. Discover the power of dance. Give into the music’s unrelenting pulse of invitation. You might feel silly at first. Or afraid of how you will look. But you needn’t, and you shouldn’t. Instead, in the cheesy but true words of William Purkey (or Mark Twain, no one is really sure): Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching, And live like it’s heaven on earth. Because, really, what’s the worst that could happen?

5. Know you’re not alone

At an event like a festival, people often assume everyone is drinking. And up until now, you also might have assumed this about everyone there. But, in fact, it is becoming increasingly popular to go to social events like festivals sober. As sobriety begins to gain a more fashionable reputation, a host of events which are structured around the burgeoning sober culture are beginning to pop up. From juice crawls to sober daytime raves, many are realising the value of enjoying experiences, alcohol-free. Get gigging!  

Alcohol and meeting the parents

Meet the family

Need some inspiration to say #hellosundaymorning today?Step back and "do it for them," with thanks to our wonderful partners nib foundation.

Hello Sunday Morning 发布于 2016年7月16日
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!

Going to a wedding sober

The sober wedding

Have you ever considered going sober to a wedding? Say #hellosundaymorning and see how it's done.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, July 2, 2016

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!

 

The sober wedding

Have you ever considered going sober to a wedding? Say #hellosundaymorning and see how it's done.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, July 2, 2016

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

Brunch it

Do you love to brunch? A look at the phenomenon sweeping the world and disrupting pubs everywhere, helping people say #hellosundaymorning.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, June 18, 2016

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.

KNOCKING THE TOP OFF – ALCOHOL AND EMOTIONS

This post explores the final component to the psychology that drives binge drinking – Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence (in my view) is the ability to manage our emotions and understand the emotions and feelings of others.  I would like to explore how in western society, we largely put alcohol in charge to do this for us.  anger The HSM project has garnered a significant amount of interest from people from all walks of life. Wherever I go, when it comes up in conversation, people really want to find out what if feels like, what kind of person I am and moreover, why the hell I am doing it. Whether I’m a Christian fundamentalist or an ex-alcoholic or an attention seeker. It’s fascinating. I believe you can learn so much about a person by the way (and quality of) the question they ask. However, regardless of the person, the two questions that nearly everyone wants answers from me are; 1) Are you going to drink at the end of the year? and; 2)  What do you miss most? (more…)

ARE YOU A SHARK OR A JELLYFISH?

Continuing on with this series of posts on the drivers behind our binge drinking culture, I want to now explore the psychological driver of ‘purpose’. What does it mean to have purpose? How does a young person lose it? how it is found? and how does a lack of it translate into dysfunctional drinking behaviour.  JellyfishA person without purpose is like a jellyfish. They sway and migrate with the oceans currents; they have no say in their future and are protected solely by their reliance on the collective. They fit in. A person with purpose is like a shark. They fear nothing, they take what they need, when they need it and they are completely deliberate in their actions. They make shit happen. (more…)

PART MAN/PART RUM & COKE CAN

Identity crisis     “You are not your job, you are not the money in your bank, the car you drive, or the contents of your wallet, you are not your __ khakis.” (Fight Club) I spent Friday afternoon having this incredible conversation with Ben Johnston (@windybenny) about young people and alcohol. The conversation kept harping back to the issue of young Australians and this concept of ‘identity’. Benny said something quite poignant the topic which I remember well – young people are wandering around today looking for an identity and alcohol companies seem to swoop into their psychology and give them one. (more…)

To fight or not to fight?

Around 300 people filled up just over half of the Tivoli on Saturday night to see modern rock’n’roll’s answer to Keith Richards himself, Mickey Avalon. There were very few punters at the venue without a tattoo, a senseless stumble or a flat brimmed hat. I unfortunately happened to be one of the few. The place was wigger’d out of control. I tried my best to fade into the background of the half empty hall, quietly giggling to myself about the absurdity of the performers. However, there was one person that decided to take it upon himself to not let that happen. (more…)

Do men want to dance like madonna?

I’m currently at the Norman B, making a few observations. Firstly, looking at how people are talking with each other, there seems to be this invisible boundary when you have a drink in your hand. I guess we feel safe as long as there’s glass between us.  I look to the dancefloor for some insights… (more…)