Staying Sober and Social at Work Don’t Have to Be Mutually Exclusive

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It’s no secret that much of the socializing and networking that goes on in the modern workplace tends to revolve around alcohol, from popping champagne on coworkers’ birthdays to boozy holiday parties that go long into the night. That can make it hard if you’ve decided to take a break from drinking or have made the choice to cut out alcohol altogether, joining a growing group of young people who are looking to experience a healthier life without booze.

Studies have shown that just taking a brief break from drinking – like a “Dry January” – can help increase your mental and physical well-being. Even if you’re just saving yourself for one night a week of revelry, it can be a good way to feel more productive and better adjusted. That’s not to mention the money you can save while not downing all those carbs and sugars – googling the calorie count of your favorite cocktail tends to be a bit of a rude awakening. 

But it’s not always that easy to stay sober when there’s a whirlwind of Christmas parties, networking events and after work drinks that practically necessitate downing a few drinks on a seemingly near-daily basis. This can be especially stressful during the holidays, when the number of events and celebrations (coupled with end-of-year deadlines) seems to multiply. 

Luckily, there’s an increasing number of ways that make it easy to stay sober and social, so you don’t miss out on the fun and potential opportunities that come from a workplace get-together.

You Don’t Have to Wait Until After Work

It’s natural for you and your coworkers to want to blow off some steam after a long day, but that can often mean heading to the nearest bar to tie a few on. If you’re looking to stay sober, you might want to skip the temptation entirely and fit in some social time with your coworkers during office hours instead. You’ll also be surprised at how much time this can free up for exercise, crossing off life admin or decompressing in healthier ways.

There’s lots of ways to get in valuable time with your coworkers and managers without having to meet them at the bar after work. Going for a nice lunch outside the office is an obvious choice, but you can also take breaks to go for a well-advised walk, grab a quick coffee or even find a workout buddy to go to a morning exercise class. As a bonus, you might also be taken more seriously when you’re having a sober catch up rather than three-margaritas-deep chat. 

There’s A Range of New Options for The ‘Sober Curious’

One of the reasons socializing while sober can be a challenge is that it just feels a little awkward to be walking around an office party empty-handed while your coworkers clutch their drinks. It also opens you up to well-meaning – but ultimately annoying – offers of booze from your friends at work. It doesn’t have to be that way.

As more people are becoming interested in the virtues of sobriety, bars and beverage companies are catching up to the demand for alternatives to alcoholic drinks. There’s now a range of options that leave tasteless, unappealing non-alcoholic beers in the past where they belong. One such business is HopTea, which brews a wide variety of tea-based, non-alcoholic drinks that actually have some flavor and can give you something to sip while you make the rounds at the office event. If drinks outside the office are what’s in the cards, lots of bars have also begun to specialize in “mocktails” that can be beautiful, tasty creations that no one would guess are alcohol-free. 

Take The Lead On Alcohol-Alternative Events

If your office is relying too heavily on boozy events to get everyone together for some fun, you could take matters into your own hands to organize alternatives. Easy-to-organize office bake-offs, dinner potlucks, concerts or sports events all provide an opportunity for fun outings with your coworkers and a chance to network while skipping the sauce.

You can also try building up something a little more permanent, like an office running club or a book club that will keep you connected to your coworkers on a regular basis. If you really want to lean into the sober options, there’s also a burgeoning industry of social clubs, dance parties, and events that have begun to cater to the new wave of non-drinkers. 

Remember You Don’t Have to Explain Yourself

In workplace cultures where drinking is the norm and there’s pressure to fit in, it can feel like you have to give a long explanation to justify why you’re not taking part in the imbibing. But that shouldn’t be the case, and it’s important to remember that you don’t have to explain yourself when it comes to being sober. 

When you do inevitably get asked why you’re not drinking, it is good to have something practiced and ready to go as a quick way of moving the conversation forward. Try picking a phrase that gets the point across without being too hostile and stick with it. You don’t have to get complicated, just a simple “I’m not drinking” or “I’m taking it easy” will do the trick. It gives the message of a calm and confident “no, thanks” to office imbibing. If you’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol altogether, it also won’t be long until your coworkers get the memo and know to respect your desire to have fun and stay sober.

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