These days, my Monday mornings feel pretty good.
But not so long ago, they used to be about coping. Coping with a hangover. Coping with the guilt of another wasted weekend. Coping with work, when I didn’t feel at all rested or ok. Coping with the pressure of promising myself that this week would be different, that this week I would be good.
If you can relate, you’re not alone. Today I’m answering a question from Lisa, who writes:
“Most weeks I manage not to drink from Monday to Thursday, and I feel pretty good about that. But I can’t get through the weekend without drinking. I start on Friday night and then it’s all downhill from there. By Sunday I’m always so annoyed at myself for wasting the weekend.”
So how do you weekend-proof your sobriety? Here are my tips.
Keep your eye on the prize
Take a moment to visualise, in detail, what you’d like next weekend to be like. How would you love to feel and what would you love to be doing?
My alcohol-free weekends are approximately 100 times more interesting than my old, boozy ones. I love waking up on a Saturday morning and going for a run, rather than moping around the house, feeling anxious about how much I drank the night before. I like knowing that I will have time to do the things that need to get done (rather than leaving it up to fate to see what I’ll be able to manage with a hangover).
I enjoy the feeling of real-life relaxation. It is sooo much better than falling for the illusion of the alcohol-induced version (that fake high that lifts you up and then brings you crashing down at 3am). Best of all, I love that I am no longer wishing my life away, by obsessing over drinking or not drinking all the time.
Life gives us so many opportunities, but it’s hard to spot them when you’ve got your wine goggles on. If you work hard from Monday to Friday, then you deserve two proper days off at the weekend. You deserve to feel good and to enjoy your time off. Don’t let alcohol rob you of that. Decide now: what will this coming weekend look like for you?
Plan an alternative Friday night
How are you feeling by 5pm on a Friday? Most of us are pretty knackered and worn out! You will find sobriety hard if you just try and white knuckle through the evening, ignoring how you’re feeling. A much better plan of action is to decide – in advance – what you’re going to do to take care of yourself.
Cravings are nearly always a clue that you need something. More often than not, they’re a sign that you’re tired, hungry, thirsty or stressed out. So make a plan for that. You know alcohol doesn’t genuinely relax you – just think about how stressed you are after a few days of drinking. There are plenty of other lovely, relaxing things you can do instead.
Maybe you go to a Friday night yoga class. Maybe you go swimming or sit in the jacuzzi. Maybe you watch a movie and order a takeaway. Maybe you have a bath, watch some TV, curl up with a book or go to bed early. Maybe you invite a friend round for dinner (you could always prep the food in advance, so it’s all done). Maybe you tick a few chores off your to do list, keep yourself busy and get on top of things. Think about what might work for you next Friday night, and start planning it now.
Get clear on what a good ‘treat’ is
You often hear people say things like, “I’ll have this glass of wine – it’s a Friday night treat.” Or, “Go on – treat yourself! It’s the weekend after all.” You get the gist. Somewhere along the way we picked up this idea that wine isn’t good for us (correct) but instead of deciding not to invite it into our lives, we decided to make it a ‘treat’ instead. We’ve glorified and romanticised alcohol to a point where we’ve almost forgotten that we’re talking about a cancer causing drug. We forget that ethanol is the same thing we fuel our cars with, or strip paint with.
This weekend, make a list of things that could genuinely feel like a treat for you. Maybe it’s curling up with a book, catching up with friends, a spa treatment or going out for brunch. Think about how you can treat yourself with high quality experiences, not drugs.
For the women I coach inside my Getting Unstuck course, the biggest triumph is not “I’ve managed to resist wine all weekend!” but rather, “There’s wine at home and I didn’t even WANT a glass.” They feel like that because they got clear on what is a treat and what’s not.
Remember, there’s nothing magical about Mondays!
If you do slip up, start over immediately. Don’t write the weekend off as a failure or give yourself a free pass to drink through the rest of it.
I understand the idea that a new week = a new start. Monday is nearly always the day when we begin new diets and fitness regimes etc! But I also know that there’s nothing magical about Mondays. In fact, for many of us, Monday is one of the busiest, toughest days of the week! It’s just as easy to start over on a Saturday or a Sunday (or a Wednesday or whenever).
If your drinking is making you miserable, then the best time to stop is always right now. Right this second.
And now a question for you…
One of the best things about alcohol-free weekends is all the time you get back. Suddenly, you can find yourself doing stuff you would never have done before (hello, Sunday morning yoga class…). What do you do with all your spare time during your sober weekends? What do you love most about them? Let me know, because your experiences are bound to inspire others.
First, amen about Mondays not being magical. I stopped on a Thursday, when desire was high and I knew the test would be the next day. Once I did that the following weekends become easier. 🙂
Second, amazing how much time and energy you have once you stop… you get to bed on time, you can chase your pursuits.
The best thing for me was starting to see alcohol as something that didn’t serve me anymore, something that got in the way of bigger and better things I wanted to do. As opposed to someone/thing telling me I wasn’t allowed to have wine.
I am allowed. I’m a grown-ass adult; I’m allowed to do whatever I want. I can eat ice cream in bed and stay under the covers until 2 pm. But, if I also want to run marathons, see fitness gains, be sharp and on my game at work, chase my dreams, well, then alcohol isn’t serving my best interests anymore and I choose not to let it ruin my other pursuits.
Just like I wouldn’t sabotage myself before a work presentation by staying up until 6 am playing video games and eating a pot of beans.
Thanks JC – I really like what you’ve said here about seeing alcohol as something that didn’t serve you anymore. That’s a great way to look at it 🙂
Hello Kate. I love this blog. I will be attempting a sober weekend once again. I have yet to succeed. It’s so true what you say about how on day 1 you are all in and excited and committed to being sober. Then you start to falter a little. That is where I am at. For the last 2 days I have been so ready and felt confident. Here I sit on Friday afternoon and I am actually bargaining with myself! I am telling myself it will be ok if I just drink beer. No vodka. Just beer. Only Fridays. Yes, that will work! No Vodka and only drink beer on Friday! I have not been able to stick with that for several years so what makes me thing today will be different? Why is this so hard? I am not feeling sad or angry about anything. I just feel like it’s Friday and I should be able to drink beer. The reality is that I should be saying, “It’s Friday! I can’t wait to have a sober weekend that I remember!”. We will see if I can do this. I feel like if I make it this weekend it will really help me and give me some strength and confidence.
This post hit the mark for me. I approach weekends with a mixed sense of anticipation and dread — and the weekend is always when I fall off the wagon. I’m back on now, determined as ever — thanks for another great post and source of inspiration.
Good luck Edana – you can do it!
Weekends are by far the hardest for me. I associate the freedom of the weekend with heading to the local bar filled with friendly people and drinks that lead into a fun filled evening! of course, I know that “fun filled” evening more often than not ends with me miserable and unhappy, and not functioning the next 2 days while recovering from the terrible choices I made. One of the biggest things I struggle with is finding ways to be social without it revolving around alcohol. I don’t have a ton of friends where I live currently, so the way I interact has always been just to go to a bar and strike up a conversation. There isn’t that same freedom or camaraderie at a coffee shop or restaurant, so I end up feeling isolated and wanting to drink to relieve the feelings.
One thing I am trying to do is let go of that need to have my wekeends revolve around the nighttime. I am making the active (and very difficult) decision to try and shift my internal clock to being more of a morning person, because I do more productive things in the daylight hours than I do after 11pm. Maybe by making a new set of habits, it will help me disassociate evenings/weekends with bar life. Sober 84 days now, but still don’t feel like I have a full handle on this thing.
Keep going Christine – you’ll get there. It’s good to experiment with different social settings and different routines, just to see what works best for you. It’ll all slot together in time. Congratulations on your 84 days!
Well done for 84 days.
Try find an non alcoholic group
or start up a meet up group for non drinkers .
I’m sure there are a lot of people in the same situation .
I’m 52 days AF, an older woman 61, I still have the same pressures. My family are big drinkers and everything is around alcohol.
I really admire you and your strengths . You need a good friend to support you , not the fake pal Al who will always let us down and make us feel shit about ourselves.
Keep doing what your doing and think of all the positives .
You are an insperation.
90 days is when I started to hit my stride. It takes time but please persevere
Thanks Kate fot another beautiful honest blog! I always remind myself that we never know how strong we are until our strenght is tested!! Bring on a wonderful sober life!!
This is just great to read all the comments. I was drinking daily for many years. I had enough last June and stopped, the next 8 months were the happiest I have been in years. Unfortunately in February I had a glass of wine thinking I could be just a social drinker….big mistake, within a week I was drinking two bottles of wine a day…it’s got its grip on me again but after reading Kate’s tips this morning it’s reminded me how wonderful it felt to be sober. I am going to stop and return to that happiness. Thank you Kate x
Hi I have given up alcohol lots of times and am currently on week six this time. I’m doing pretty well and enjoying some of the perks but I am finding I tend to get that depressed, pointless feeling at the weekend. I’ve noticed staying fairly active helps but wonder if anyone has any other ideas as to what’s going on. It doesn’t seem to be a trigger that’s the problem just that I genuinely feel down at the weekends and can’t work out why!
As a professional woman, I find myself hosting events which are fueled by alcohol and canapés… I thought I could have a glass of wine here and there…. spiraled down the black hole once again in no time. Reaching out to this group with the hope that through you I can beat this cancer once and for all and through this be a beacon of hope to another suffering. I’m just having such a tough time staying sober! sober….
Drive yourself to events whenever possible. Make the decision that you are NOT going to drink – no ifs, no buts, no ‘wait and see’. Keep a glass of fizzy water or plain tonic water in your hand. Stay busy. Leave as soon as you can. Believe you can do it and you will. You got this Ana!
Kate I heard you on LBC radio 7 days ago thanks so much for going on there and talking about women drinking, otherwise I’d never have heard about the sober school and I wouldn’t even imagine being here 7 days sober xxxx
Thank you – and big congratulations on your 7 days!! 🙂
I take care of my daughter Saturdays and Sundays since my husband works weekends. With alcohol I was not much fun for her as I didn’t have any energy to do much. By going without alcohol I am much more able to engage with her! Last weekend for Mother’s Day we found a new hiking trail near our house that we explored with our dog. It was a beautiful day!
That sounds lovely. So great to be fully present for your daughter 🙂
Great post. I work so hard during the week. I get to 6pm Friday and normally hit the pub for drinks to “ relax “. Then ruin weekend by drinking and feeling unwell. Hungover.
Now day 14. It’s Saturday and up at 7am ready to enjoy weekend with no hangover. It was difficult last night but I had alcohol free beer while my fiancée drank wine. Watched a movie. All was fine now I’m so happy I didn’t drink. Onwards and upwards x
After passing out on the sofa for one more Saturday night I am feeling pretty rubbish about myself yet again. I can sometimes manage to go without alcohol all week and enjoy the early nights and the refreshed start to my working day. But I must say I am sat here writing my weekend plan for a sober weekend and my brain won’t even give me any ideas of what to differently on Saturday night. Friday nights I can manage a bit easier although I must say that ‘wine o’clock’ has started calling then as well. I spend the weekends mostly alone and am not a person who goes out and about very much, so drinking on a Saturday does indeed feel like a treat at the time, but then the crappy feeling on the Sunday ruins my whole weekend, even if I have managed to achieve some of the things I set out to achieve. would be grateful for some words of reassurance and wisdom around this please.
Hi Catherine, I’d love to help you work through this – have you looked at my coaching programme? On the course we break this kind of thing down into detail, so we can work out why you’re really drinking: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
In the meantime, have you downloaded my free wine o’clock guide? It’s here: https://thesoberschool.com/wineoclock
And I have lots more quick tips in my archives: https://thesoberschool.com/kates-blog/
Keep going Catherine!
Thank you Kate
Your blog this week will hopefully help. As I might be able to establish why I feel the need to drink in the way I do. I will look at it properly this eve.
Thank you for this post I really needed it today this is my first Friday I will be facing and I was very anxious about it until I read this blog, thank you all .
Ps I am Day 7 AF and have been feeling ok however I have pain in the right side of my back , I’m guessing it’s my liver and kidneys detoxing? Should I be worried?
I distract myself by going to a movie. I’m not alcohol free yet but definitely have cut back – past 2 weeks no alcohol a weekend away at the Dead Sea, English type pub Thursday and Sunday night felt no pressure to drink. Thank you Kate for having me on board. I’m starting Bootscamp Mid July – I’m thinking 90 days.
Thank you Kate for your inspiration, I survived my first weekend and I feel great . I kept myself busy didn’t really have a choice as I had so much energy, it felt awesome waking up refreshed instead of moping around all day watching the clock till my next beer ! This was definitely the right decision for me . Staying strong and happy for the first time in along time xxxxx