Drinking With Friends Is Essential – Mindful Drinking Festival

by Laura Willoughby from Club Soda

I have always known that ‘being social’ was a great way to change a habit, especially a social habit such as drinking. But it has taken a few inspirational stories (and a little bit of science) to make me realise how important it really is.

mindful drinking festival

Club Soda member Serena’s journey of going to alcohol-free involved a number of spells in rehab. She managed to stick (now over 2 years) because she realised that staying at home and isolating herself from other people, meant that exposing herself to the real world became a trigger. This last time round she approached her social life with gusto. It became part of her plan. Every time she notched up another social occasion without drinking, she became more and more resilient.

Being social really is a behaviour change superpower. Science says so!

At Club Soda, we use University College London’s Behaviour Change Taxonomy to power what we do. According to this list, there are 96 possible techniques we can all use to change our habits. The more of them we use at one time, the more successful we will be. If you go through the list (there is even an app!) you will see that many of them rely on engaging with other people. From a friend expressing concern, to practicing a new behaviour in a familiar space (like not drinking in the pub).

By being social either online or in the real world you:

● Learn from others – this is called vicarious learning.
● Create accountability – by updating others with your plans or progress
● Get feedback on your behaviour – both celebrating milestones and encouraging you back on the wagon after a lapse.
● Get social support when you feel vulnerable.
● But also practical support – other people’s lived experience is so valuable.
● Can compare your new behaviour with others.
● Get approval from peers – people who understand you.
● And you can road test a new self-identity.
● More importantly, as time progresses, by helping others you become a role model yourself, which keeps you on the right path!

Mindful drinkers have a behavioural quirk

We have learnt a lot about bringing our members together in the real world on a regular basis. Those that come to our lunches (often from quite far away) create bonds that support their long term sobriety.

It can seem daunting to meet people for the first time who you have only chatted to online. But really we are all in the same boat. Remembering that by joining in you are deploying a behaviour change superpower also helps you book your train ticket!

These events have led Club Soda on an interesting journey. We have seen how trying new drinks is a bonding experience (we often do non-alcoholic beer and wine tastings) but also that we ex-drinkers have a strange behavioural quirk when it comes to alcohol-free drinks.

When we were drinking we would have bought a six pack of beer whether we knew we liked it or not. But when it comes to alcohol-free versions, craft sodas or the new wave of adult distilled drinks, we won’t buy them, not even a small bottle, unless we know we definitely like them. How fussy have we become!

So (drum roll please!) – we are putting on a massive alcohol-free drinks festival in London. The first of its kind. Eek!

The Mindful Drinking Festival in London

Everyone from the non-drinker to the sober curious can come and try new drinks at the Festival. Lower sugar craft sodas, kombucha and other health drinks, infusions and mocktails, and the new wave of alcohol-free drinks. Over 30 drinks brands will be there, so there’s going to be something for everyone.

We reckon this event alone hits nearly half of those behaviour change techniques. It is more than just being social. But that of course is a big part of it. After all, we get pissed together so why should we have to get sober alone?

The Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival is on 13th August, from midday to 6pm, at Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN. Entry is free, and you can RSVP online at mindfuldrinkingfestival.com.

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