Going Sober: To Brunch or Not to Brunch

Alexandra McRobert, founder of The Mindful Life Practice, answers the eternal question: how can you stay alcohol free when going out with friends who drink?

Alexandra McRobert, the yoga guru and founder of The Mindful Life Practice, gets candid with Dubai Dairies on her struggles with alcohol, and on how to go sober and still be the party girl living her best life. She discusses below seven key strategies which can help those who are aspiring to hop on to the wellness bandwagon and live a healthy life.

Alexandra McRobert,
Founder of
The Mindful Life Practice

Last week I hosted a yoga retreat for sober women in Bali, Indonesia. I went cold turkey off of alcohol back in 2019 when I was a teacher living in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I realised that alcohol was holding me back from pursuing my life dreams – becoming an international yoga teacher and hosting retreats around the world – and if I wanted to work towards that dream, then I had one choice. I had to quit drinking.

During the retreat, our Indonesian driver around the island took us one night to his bar/nightclub in town. While not originally on the retreat itinerary, it was an empowering experience for everyone – because we saw that we could go out to parties, drink, dance, and still have fun – without alcohol.

Going sober is challenging, and especially while living in a place like the UAE. Everyone knows what the expat social scene is like in the United Arab Emirates. Socialising consists of free-flowing brunches and ladies’ nights. How can you stay alcohol free when going out with friends who drink?

Here are seven of my top tips of how to continue going to brunches after going alcohol free!

  1. Wait until you’re ready: When I quit drinking, I took about three weeks off of socializing before I felt ready to re-enter the social scene and go to brunches, ladies’ nights, events and parties. Don’t be afraid to hibernate for a bit. Cancel plans. You don’t need an excuse or reason. Only enter the social scenes when you’re ready.
  2. Be honest with your friends: I think one of the biggest challenges people face when going alcohol free is peer pressure. If you’re honest with your friends and tell them you’re not drinking, that can help mitigate the peer pressure. One of the best things I did was just be honest and tell others about my issues with alcohol. Once people realized I was serious about stopping, they rallied around me and gave me more support.
  3. Plan ahead: Plan ahead, and research venues you are attending to make sure they’re sober-friendly. In my early days of sobriety, I actually remember calling venues in Abu Dhabi ahead of brunch and checking with them to find out what mocktails they provided. It also helps if the venue gives special packages and wristbands for those who bought alcohol packages or those who did not – this helped me stay committed to being sober.
  4. Make plans for a Sober Morning: Make a commitment for something you’ll do the night after drinking – and something that you don’t want to be hungover for! Whether it’s an activity like sunrise kayaking at the louvre, going to an early morning spinning class, or going out for a run. Choose something that will keep you busy and make sure you’re locked in with a booking.
  5. Find a Community: My lifeline in my first year sober was the sober Facebook group I belonged to. Every time I was feeling triggered to drink I would post in the group, and receive tons of support from my community around the world. If you are a woman looking at quitting alcohol, join my free Facebook Group Sober Girls Yoga. It’s an amazing group!
  6. Show Up Late: Something that massively helped me was showing up late for events. At big events, like the work Christmas Party, I would feel overwhelmed by all the nervous energy at the start of the night. Once everyone had a few drinks and the games started, I found I was much more comfortable in the space. I would regularly show up to events slightly late – and this would help me feel more comfortable.
  7. Leave Early: Once I quit drinking, I loved the fact that I never needed to organize a taxi on a night out and could always be the driver! I loved having the power to leave at any time. I would let anyone jump in the car who wanted to join and get a ride home – but I never waited until they wanted to leave – I always left when I was ready to go. Don’t stick around if you feel ready to go home – and having an exit plan is an awesome way to do that!

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