With the weather warming up, people are busting out the barbecues, cracking open the cans, and filling the beer gardens, but what do you do if you don't want to drink?
Whether for health reasons, because you have a problem with alcohol, because you don't want the excess calories on your bikini body, or because you just don't like being drunk, an alcohol-free life is a commitment and a lifestyle for some of us. But the summer can be a difficult time for teetotallers, with outdoor fun always seemingly coupled with booze.
You can have just as much fun being alcohol-free, but the pressure to drink from others can put a crimp on your day. Those who choose not to drink alcohol often seem to get a grilling, rather than having their choice simply respected.
Additionally, the amount of alcohol advertising seems to soar along with the rising temperatures, taunting you with ice-cold images of various types of booze. So what do you do if you really want to abstain?
Here are some tips for sticking to your decision not to drink:
Keep the end in mind: Remember the reason why you're not drinking. You have made your decision not to drink for a very good reason. Is a bit of peer pressure really worth losing sight of your goal for? Have a clear image of the person you want to be without alcohol in your life.
Play the tape forward: If you do feel tempted to just have one, think about what would happen if you were to. Would it lead onto more drinking? Would you regret it tomorrow? Would you feel angry at yourself for caving in? The healthiest choices are those that benefit us in the long-term.
Prepare your speech: You may be asked why you're not drinking, and possibly even persuaded to change your mind. Make sure you have your statement prepared, and only share what you're comfortable with. I always tell people who continually pressurise me, that me having a drink will end with one, or both, of us in hospital or jail, and that seems to get the message across.
Get a new drink: Make sure you have a gorgeous drink to enjoy, so you won't feel like you're missing out. My favourite is ginger ale, but fruit juice, non-alcoholic cocktails, or even sparkling water with a twist of lime, are all refreshing choices. And for me, if a pub doesn't serve a stunning coffee, it's not worth going to.
Prepare an escape route: If you're at a pub or a party, and you really feel your sobriety is in jeopardy, then make your excuses and go home, or go elsewhere. You may find that after a certain point, you don't want to be there anyway - horribly drunk people can be really annoying. I know; I used to be one. Always have a back-up plan in case you want to make a hasty exit.
Do something else: If you've been invited to the pub, or somewhere else where the booze will be flowing, and you really don't think it's a good idea, arrange to do something else fun instead. An alfresco cafe is a great place for teetotallers to meet friends, or doing something active out in the sun will ensure you know you're not missing out.
Enjoy the benefits: Joy of joys - the morning after. As your friends all crawl around the house, dehydrated and with a strange hankering for junk food, you can be out and about and enjoying the beautiful summer day. Make the most of it and do something fun.
Validate yourself: Remember to pat yourself on the back every time you choose what is right for you. There is no better feeling than keeping your integrity and self-respect intact and being proud of your own choices.