How do I stop sipping?
January 18, 2012 2:04 PM   Subscribe

When I get nervous in social situations, I feel the need to have something to sip on. If it's an alcoholic beverage, I can get over-inebriated. If it's non-alcoholic, I have to make constant trips to the bathroom. I need to break this habit or make it manageable.

I need coping mechanisms. Have you experienced something similar? Did you break the habit, and if so, how?
posted by lekvar to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried chewing gum? (Just try to keep your mouth closed...)
posted by xtine at 2:05 PM on January 18, 2012

Get a drink of something you really hate - preferably non-alcoholic, but either way, really. That way, you have it in your hand, it's a crutch, but you're unlikely to actually drink a lot of it, and you'll train yourself out of it by drinking it being really unpleasant. Sort of like the rubber-band-around-the wrist trick.
posted by brainmouse at 2:06 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Could you limit yourself to one drink? Not having the temptation there is bound to help.

If someone offers, shake your head and go: No thanks! I couldn't drink any more right now if I wanted to.
posted by royalsong at 2:08 PM on January 18, 2012

I had a professor who used to have to attend a lot of business social functions. The problem is she didn't drink and because of that people thought she was there to spy. Solution: club soda with an umbrella. It's naturally sipped slowly and that solves both your problems.
posted by michaelh at 2:10 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you swap out the drink for, say, some funky beaded bracelet that you can play with instead of drinking?
posted by lulu68 at 2:14 PM on January 18, 2012

Something that's only sippable, not chuggable. Fernet branca is a good alcoholic option (it's pretty bitter, but can be strangely pleasant in a weird, cough syrup sort of way); otherwise club soda or tonic water (which is more bitter than soda) with lime.
posted by scody at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do something like this, and it's important to note that this nervous habit has two components: hand and mouth. You may find that occupying just one works; you may need to occupy both. I have had zero success in breaking this habit, but I have found acceptable substitutes, depending on the situation:

- chewing gum (this occupies both hand and mouth, because unwrapping the little wrapper and folding it back up again is part of the ritual)
- mints (mouth). You might prefer a kind you can chew on (like Altoids) or a kind you can suck on (like Tic-Tacs).
- snacking (mouth). Crunchy healthy items like carrots, dried seaweed, etc. are ideal.
- folding little origami cranes out of any piece of paper at hand (hand). Seriously, it's awesome and then you give the crane away and make somebody happy.
- mixing drinks (hand). Appoint yourself the party bartender; it'll keep you occupied and it may paradoxically make you less likely to want to drink something.
- iPod DJ (hand). Like drink-mixing, it keeps you busy.
- and so on.
posted by ourobouros at 2:16 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I tend to find in these situations it's not so much that I want something to drink, I just want something to do with my hands. Maybe you could buy a beaded bracelet or a ring, something you can fiddle with without looking anti-social.
posted by fight or flight at 2:16 PM on January 18, 2012

Fill a cup up with ice and sip at that.. It will take a long time to melt, so you won't be able to drink that much and have to pee all the time, but there will be a small amount of liquid there for you to drink.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:23 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

When it comes to alcohol drinking situations, I wound up switching to drinking liquor. Specifically drinks such as whiskey (bourbon or scotch) on the rocks or maybe whiskey and soda. I try to avoid mixed drinks that are easier to drink such as a whiskey sour. The reason is that even if I am frequently drinking I am much less apt to chug down a drink made of straight liquor. The second part is that I only get another drink when those around me get another drink.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Two recommendations from the other end of the spectrum--

With respect to the alcoholic drinks--can you just drink more regularly in non-social situations so that you build up more of a tolerance? Personally, I see nothing inherently wrong with using alcohol as a social lubricant, nor anything inherently right about being a lightweight. I absolutely support people's decision not to drink (I didn't drink until well after college), but if you like/find it helpful to drink and your complaint is you get drunk too quickly, you may be able to fix that. Always in moderation, consult your doctor, don't drink and drive.

With respect to the non-alcoholic drinks, have you tried not going to the bathroom? I don't know what the physical basis for this is, but I have been educated in recent years about "not breaking the seal"--i.e., if I have been drinking (booze) and answer nature's call, nature then seems to call back every few damn minutes. The longer I delay "breaking the seal" and making that first trip to the bathroom, the fewer trips I seem to make.

I also like Scody's comment about non-chuggable alcoholic drinks--another might be a Campari and soda (no garnish). More of a summery drink (fernet is a more wintery drink), but it's definitely not something most people will want to drink quickly.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:34 PM on January 18, 2012

One thing I tend to do is take the ice from my alcoholic drink and put as much of it in my water, then chew ice cubes when I get super-sippy. That way I get one alcoholic drink to help with the anxiety that causes the behavior in myself, then have to work my way more slowly through my water with ice in it.

Chewing ice cubes gets really cold, too, so it tends to make me break the sipping pattern. Also, I mostly live with a lot of trips to the washroom, figuring the hydration's good for me.
posted by ldthomps at 2:40 PM on January 18, 2012

Oh my, I'm exactly the same way. I always drink faster than everyone else not because I'm trying to get drunk, but because I'm just sitting here staring while everyone talks what shall I do to look busy oh hello there is my drink, it will occupy my face.

The only thing that kind of works is watching someone else who is similar to me but not afflicted by the need for something liquid in their mouth at any second, and drinking whenever they do.
posted by good day merlock at 2:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you normally drink, alcohol-wise? Are you a scotch drinker yet? I find that scotch tends to be a great self-regulator, as far as alcohol goes. Plus, it's a drink that is perfectly acceptable to nurse.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:45 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have not problems with alcohol generally. The problem I have is, in social situations, while everyone else is going *sip* and socializing, I'm going *sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*sip*. This is the case whether it's tap water, beer, or 18-year single-malt.
posted by lekvar at 2:54 PM on January 18, 2012

Oh, and I'm liking the fiddle-with-object idea. Any suggestions as to objects with which to fiddle that aren't too obtrusive?
posted by lekvar at 2:56 PM on January 18, 2012

What if you just tip the glass toward you so that the liquid touches your lips, but you don't actually drink it? You could probably do this for a long time with a partially full glass before anybody would notice.
posted by datarose at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any suggestions as to objects with which to fiddle that aren't too obtrusive?

Cuff links? Watch - maybe one with a face-cover that rotates?
posted by lulu68 at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2012

I also drink a bit too quickly, fiddle with anything I can get my hands on, bite my nails, etc. I just cannot keep my hands still.

In an informal setting, a squeezy stress ball is the best option I've found. It keeps my hands occupied, doesn't make any noise, and doesn't make a mess (I would recommend against silly putty for the "mess" reason).

In a more formal setting where you can't whip out the stress ball, I like to wear a ring. I can twist it around my finger in circles, or take it off and put it back on again. I would recommend not getting something too expensive - because you'll be taking it on and off, it's more likely to get lost than something you just wear.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:30 PM on January 18, 2012

Just not gum -- watching -- or especially talking to -- someone who's chewing gum is really gross.
posted by brainmouse at 3:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

A coworker has a truly lovely "worry ring" (also known as a "spinner ring") that I believe is made from silver. I had no idea it was anything other than a regular ring - it's soundless when he's spinning it and it looks lovely. I don't know where he got his, but there are plenty on Etsy and Google has a lot of results, too.
posted by VioletU at 3:55 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

A drink option -- bitters and soda (aka seltzer) with a lime. It's pretty hard to drink a lot of it, it's got a funky but kind-of-good taste, and it's sophisticated! And just a side note, you might mention the frequent need for trips to the bathroom at your next check-up, just to be safe.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:06 PM on January 18, 2012

Worry stone in your pocket.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:21 PM on January 18, 2012

Learn to knit!
posted by rikschell at 6:37 PM on January 18, 2012

Start smoking.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:01 PM on January 18, 2012

Ugh, I'm a month past my last cigarette, which is part of the problem; my beverage is doing double duty.
posted by lekvar at 8:45 PM on January 18, 2012

Dammit Ouro, I thought I learned how to mix drinks from you, but got the "hide from everyone by mixing drinks" thing all by myself. Now I find I have been copying you all along!
posted by pmb at 9:13 PM on January 18, 2012

Unless you are not the online handle ourobouros I know from other circumstances who tends to make drinks at parties. In that case, uh, never mind.
posted by pmb at 9:56 PM on January 18, 2012

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