Trying To Moderate? 10 Things You’ll Need To Be Ok With First

Trying To Moderate? 10 Things You’ll Need To Be Ok With First

“Surely one drink won’t hurt?”

The thought pops into your head from nowhere.

Now you’re thinking about trying to moderate and wondering whether it’s a good idea. Just one drink sounds so harmless. So normal… so reasonable.

You’ll just have one and leave it there. Or maybe two small glasses. But definitely no more than that, right?  

If this internal battle sounds familiar, you probably already know, deep down, that moderation rarely ends well for you. But that doesn’t stop you from thinking about it. Or trying it, again and again.

If you’re toying with the idea of having ‘just one glass’ tonight, read on…

 

Trying To Moderate? 10 Things You’ll Need To Be Ok With First:

 

1. Spending ages coming up with a plan you’ll later ignore

If you’re trying to moderate, you’ll need to start by enthusiastically creating some rules for yourself. Google advice on how to cut down and remind yourself of all the tips you’ve read a hundred times before. Convince yourself that this time, you really will alternate every alcoholic drink with water.  

 

2. Regularly breaking your promises 

Moderation is so hard, you will inevitably break some of the commitments you make to yourself. You’ll need to be comfortable with this happening on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can move the goalposts and ease the pain of going back on your word by finding creative ways around your own rules. E.g. Is it really drinking alone if the dog’s at home? 

 

3. Knowing that moderation is a full time job

What are you going to drink? When? Where? How much? Are you sure? Do you have enough supplies? Where are you going to get more? Has anyone noticed? These questions aren’t going to answer themselves. Moderation gobbles up time, energy and brainspace, so make sure you’re prepared for this. 

 

4. Finding a range of stores to shop from 

Is the person on the till giving you a funny look because they can remember what you bought yesterday, or is it just your imagination? Who knows. Make life easier for yourself by selecting 3 or 4 shops you can pop into on rotation, and pretend you’re there spontaneously. 

 

5. Learning a lot about wine 

Nothing signals ‘sophisticated, moderate drinker’ like someone who knows their way around a wine menu. Personally, I used to be happy drinking any old thing (especially after a few glasses) but it’s never good to be caught buying the cheap stuff. 

 

6. Starting your day early. Very early.

Alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle, even in small amounts. It’s frustrating to wake up in the early hours, hungover and exhausted, yet somehow unable to sleep. Keep a pile of good books by your bed to help pass the time. Plus some water and painkillers, of course.

 

7. Getting to know other heavy drinkers 

When you’re trying to moderate, you’ll find yourself drawn to other people who also drink a lot. You feel good around them and your drinking seems normal compared to theirs. The downside? A drinking buddy is not the same as a true friend, and you may end up losing touch with people who genuinely care about you.

 

8. Low self esteem

Here’s a secret: ‘normal’ drinkers get addicted to alcohol. (I wrote more about that here). Struggling to control a mind-bending drug is not a big deal, nor is it a personal failing. But when you’re in the middle of the moderation dance, you won’t be able to recognise this. Your self esteem will take a pounding and you’ll wonder, ‘what’s wrong with me’? (Answer: nothing)

 

9. Setting regular tests for yourself

This is an important part of keeping the moderation magic going. Every now and then you will need to take a week off. Or if you can stand it, a whole month. Then you know – and everyone else knows – that alcohol is definitely NOT a problem for you and there is absolutely nothing at all to worry about. 

 

10. Be comfortable lying to yourself 

Occasionally you’ll catch yourself wondering if you should quit completely. Might it be easier? Would it make you happier? When those pesky thoughts creep in, remind yourself that you’re enjoying the best of both worlds right now. You’re fine. People like you don’t quit drinking, right?! Right. You’re just having a bad day. You’re happy with things as they are. Honestly. This. Is. FINE. 

 

If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.

 

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4 Reasons Why You’re Not Taking Action Yet

4 Reasons Why You’re Not Taking Action Yet

When it comes to taking action, you feel stuck.

You spend a lot of time thinking about your drinking; worrying and wondering whether you should quit.

You buy books about alcohol free living and follow sober bloggers on Instagram.

You wake up hungover and vow you’ll quit – only to question the decision a few hours later.

It’s exhausting, not being able to decide what to do. Alcohol is making you unhappy… so why aren’t you taking action?

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Here are 4 (totally normal) reasons why you might struggle to take action – and what to do about it…

 

It seems like a really big decision

Quitting drinking feels like such a big deal, you want to be 100% certain you’re doing the right thing. But you can’t imagine giving up forever, so you’re stuck in a loop of never feeling quite ready.

How to take action anyway: 

You can overcome the fear of forever by taking a temporary break instead. You don’t need to be 100% certain about the future – it’s impossible to know how you’ll feel in a month’s time, never mind a year or several decades away!

Taking a break for a month or two allows you to test drive sobriety and get into a new routine (studies show it takes 66 days to form a new habit). Once your break is over, you can always go back to drinking if you want to – or set another short term goal.

 

You’re weighing up another option

If you really can’t bring yourself to get started, the chances are that part of you is still considering the alternatives. The idea of finding some way to moderate your alcohol intake can be hard to let go of.

How to take action anyway: 

I’ve written before about why moderation rarely works (you can read that here) but to be honest, you need to come to that conclusion yourself. If you still want to focus on cutting back, then continue with that for now, but do put a time frame on it.

Decide how much longer you’re going to keep attempting to moderate. Record the different tricks you’ve tried and the rules you’ve created to keep your drinking in check. Does any of it work in the long term? And does it make you happy?

 

You’re just not sure if it’s worth it 

Sometimes your drinking feels really bad, but on other days, it feels pretty manageable. There are things you like about drinking and you’re worried you’ll miss out on so much.

How to take action anyway:

Keep a diary. Set a reminder on your phone so you remember to write a sentence or two about how you’re feeling, morning and night. Do this every day, regardless of whether you’ve been drinking or not.

Our minds are incredibly unreliable and we often ‘forget’ stuff like this. By writing this down, you’re gathering important data about how alcohol genuinely affects you.

See what patterns you spot. If, for example, you believe alcohol is helping you cope with stress – but you notice that every drinking episode is followed by several days of problems and extra stress – then that’s important information to take note of.

 

You’ve ‘failed’ before

Perhaps you’ve tried to quit several times already and it hasn’t worked out. It was painful and you felt so bad afterwards, you don’t want to put yourself through it again.

How to take action anyway: 

When you tell yourself that you’re a hopeless case, all you’re really doing is making yourself feel better about not taking action. But that’s a very disempowering place to be. The truth is that ‘failure’ is part of the learning process. It’s not a sign that you’re weak or never going to crack this.

Nearly every student who joins my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck, will have multiple ‘failed’ attempts in their past. I expect that, because it’s normal. The most important thing is not to let the fear of failing again hold you back – I wrote more about that here.

 

Final tip: make a decision either way!

Toing and froing over the decision can make you feel as if you’re being productive, when you aren’t. Agonising over it takes up a lot of brain space and the uncertainty can be draining.

If you want to keep drinking for now, that’s ok – but make a conscious choice to do that. Put a time frame on it and set a reminder on your phone, so you remember to review how you’re feeling.

As I mentioned above, I strongly recommend keeping a diary, so you can see how the drug is affecting you and your quality of life over time. Don’t rely on your memory to help you gather this evidence – you need to see it in black and white.

 

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How To Celebrate Without Alcohol (And Feel Good About It)

How To Celebrate Without Alcohol (And Feel Good About It)

When I first quit drinking, one of my biggest concerns was how I’d celebrate without alcohol. 

I wondered: how would I mark special occasions? Victories? Big accomplishments? My birthday? Anniversaries? Or the end of a tough week? 

We’re so conditioned to use alcohol to celebrate stuff like this, it can feel hard to imagine doing it any other way.

It was a relief to discover that there are plenty of ways to celebrate sober – and if you do it right, you’ll be left feeling much happier…

 

How to celebrate without alcohol:

 

Get clear on what you ‘deserve’

Let go of that old, unhelpful mantra of “I deserve a drink!” You don’t ‘deserve’ a toxic poison at any time – no one does. You don’t deserve to wake up feeling guilty and hungover, with blurry, unclear memories of what should’ve been a special and celebratory moment. Why do something that harms you and makes you unhappy afterwards? You deserve better than that. 

 

Focus on celebrating you

A lot of those “I can’t celebrate sober!” thoughts are driven by a fear of what other people will think, or a belief that you have to celebrate things a certain way. We get caught up in the external stuff of what other people expect. But when you think about it, most celebrations (big or small) are really about celebrating you

In fact, the moments we celebrate the most often may not involve other people. For example: a personal achievement, hitting a sober milestone, finishing a difficult task. So keep your focus on how you want to celebrate and honour yourself. What would genuinely feel good? 

Here are some ideas:

Things you love to do and wish you did more of (e.g. reading, massages, time to yourself)
Things that make you feel good (e.g. sex, long baths, your favourite gym class)
Spending time with people you love being around (e.g. great friends, family, pets)
Things that make you feel special (e.g. fresh flowers, getting your hair done)
Stuff that feels really indulgent (e.g. going to the cinema on a weekday afternoon)
Things you’ve been wanting to do for ages (e.g. theatre trip, concerts, museum tour)

 

Plan how you’ll deal with other people

If you are celebrating with others, it helps to plan ahead and decide what you’ll say if people ask why you’re not drinking. (I have some suggestions here). Think carefully about what you truly want – are you throwing a big party because that’s enjoyable for you, or because it’s what other people expect you to do? If it’s your special moment then you get to decide how to celebrate.

I turned 30 a few months after I quit drinking and I’d planned on throwing a big party to mark the occasion. However, as the date got closer, I realised I just didn’t want to do it – I felt stressed out and wasn’t excited by the idea. Sobriety gave me the confidence to ditch the big party plans and arrange a series of smaller meet-ups with close friends instead, which felt much more ‘me’.

The most important thing to remember is that the contents of your glass don’t matter. It’s the people you’re with, and the quality time you spend together, that really counts. We’ve been conditioned to think that you need to consume a liquid drug in order to mark an occasion properly – or celebrate the ‘right’ way – but that simply isn’t the case. 

 

Remember, you have tons of experience in this area!

When you were a child, you never needed alcohol to celebrate a special moment – parties were all about games, cake and ice cream. When we did well at school, we were rewarded with stickers and praise from the teacher (and that was so exciting, right?) The things we ‘need’ in order to celebrate and feel acknowledged change all the time.

 

Don’t be put off by any initial awkwardness

The first few times you celebrate without alcohol might feel challenging, but this doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or destined for failure. Not at all. Those feelings are just a sign that you’re breaking a well-established pattern and learning how to do something different. Change is often uncomfortable at first, so don’t make any judgements until you’ve practised celebrating sober a couple of times. 

 

If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

(It’ll help keep you on track tonight)

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15 Things You Only Know If You Don’t Drink

15 Things You Only Know If You Don’t Drink

Deciding to go alcohol free is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – there’s no way I’d ever give this lifestyle up. 

But I’ve got to admit, sobriety isn’t always sunshine and rainbows 🌈

When you quit drinking, you start to notice some curious things. Not just about yourself, but about other people and life in general. 

Being sober in a boozy world brings plenty of ups and downs – and some stuff is so strange you have no choice but to laugh. 

Thinking about this inspired me to put together this weeks blog…

 

15 Things You Only Know If You Don’t Drink…

 

1. Alcohol is served in very strange places

You suddenly notice just how often you’re offered a drink in unusual places; at the hairdressers, with your pedicure, in department stores, at the finish line of charity fun runs. And then there’s wine yoga, paint and sip classes, boozy baby showers…

 

2. Filling out health questionnaires becomes incredibly satisfying

Who knew how much pleasure there would be in writing ‘zero’ next to the question about how many units of alcohol you drink each week?! No more trying to work it out on your fingers, halving the number and hoping your doctor didn’t expect to hear a truthful answer…  

 

3. You miss the grown up glasses 

Why is it that people who drink alcohol (and who are therefore rather clumsy, forgetful and accident-prone) get the fancy, real-glass glasses? And yet sober people often end up clutching a tumbler, or a plastic glass and a straw. Surely, it should be the other way round…

 

4. There are more alcohol free options than you thought 

You have so many drinks to choose from now. It’s a pleasant surprise to discover that most decent bars and restaurants have a mocktail menu. These days, being sober does not mean making do with tap water or diet coke (unless you want to, of course)

 

5. You need a good sense of humour

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve order books about alcohol-free living on Amazon, only for them to arrive alongside some vouchers for a wine delivery service… 🤦‍♀️

 

6. Nothing good happens after midnight

The first few times you go out, sober, you’re determined to stay to the bitter end and prove to everyone that you are still FUN! But you quickly realise that all the good stuff happens before midnight, when people are tipsy-drunk but not annoying-drunk. This is when you realise your new superpower: you can show up, have fun and then drive home before things get messy.

 

7. Sober people are everywhere

“Everyone I know drinks.” In sobriety, you realise this isn’t actually true. We all have a habit of only seeing what we want to see, or expect to see, and it’s easy to miss the people in your life who don’t drink, or hardly drink. 

 

8. It’s really hard to find birthday cards that don’t feature booze

Of all the challenges I anticipated dealing with in sobriety, finding a decent birthday card wasn’t one of them…

9. Recycling becomes a joy

Gone are the days when you dragged the heavy recycling bin out onto the pavement, wondering if the neighbours would notice how full it was. Or you discretely disposed of a few empties in someone else’s bin…

 

10. People love telling you how little they drink

“I’ll have one or two glasses during the week, a bit more at the weekend. Some nights I won’t drink anything at all…” When other people discover that you don’t drink, they often feel compelled to launch into a detailed description of how they really are a take-it-or-leave-it drinker, honest.

 

11. It’s hard to wear high heels for long periods of time

Is this just me? I think alcohol numbed my feet so I didn’t notice the pain so much!

 

12. You have much more free time in the mornings

When you’re not trying to disguise a hangover or work out who you drunk called / texted / ranted at on Facebook, your mornings suddenly seem a lot less chaotic.

 

13. Your weekends last longer

When you’ve been for a run, read the paper and had a green smoothie all before 10am on a Sunday, you realise just how much time was lost to drinking and recovering afterwards.

 

14. You save much more than you expect

You never really know how much alcohol is costing you until you quit. If you tend to buy a few bottles with your supermarket shop, it’s easy to miss just how much booze adds to your bill. 

 

15. You’re braver than you thought you were

There is nothing quite like the feeling of doing the thing you thought you couldn’t do. Quitting drinking pushes you out of your comfort zone in a big way – and makes you realise just how much you’re capable of 😊

 

If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.

 

Struggling? Listen to my free pep talk!

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How To Say No To Free Drinks (Without Feeling Deprived)

How To Say No To Free Drinks (Without Feeling Deprived)

Picture the scene: you’re trying to be good when all of a sudden, you’re offered a free drink.

It might be during a flight or on holiday; at a wedding, a party, a restaurant meal or a work conference…

Wherever it is, there’s something about turning down booze you haven’t paid for that can be extra tough.

You might feel as if you’re missing out on part of the experience, or – if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday – it can seem as if you’re not getting your money’s worth.

So how do you politely refuse a free drink, without feeling deprived?

Here are four tips to help you feel good about saying no:

 

Understand the true cost of free drinks

We tend to assume that free = good, so part of us automatically thinks, ‘why not say yes? Let’s make the most of it’. But free stuff isn’t necessarily good stuff. When it comes to alcohol, there’s always a price to pay that goes beyond money.

When you drink, there’s a cost to your mind and body. How are you going to feel afterwards? What kind of mood will you be in? You’ll be so annoyed with yourself for not sticking to your goals.

How much time will that free glass cost? One drink will inevitably lead to more and you’ll lose hours feeling drunk, recovering from your hangover and beating yourself up afterwards.

When you add up the true cost, is it worth it? Do you want to start your holiday feeling foggy and dehydrated? (This article explains why booze and flights are a bad mix.) How good might you feel if you didn’t drink? 

 

Say yes to something else 

Declining a free drink doesn’t mean you should be left empty handed – so make sure you get something else instead. What alcohol-free options are there? Don’t just settle for water (unless you genuinely want some). Can they make you something from the cocktail menu, but leave out the booze? 

Reward yourself for sticking to your alcohol free goals by indulging in other ways too. If you normally skip dessert, order ice cream. Treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally let yourself have. You deserve it. 

 

Know that it won’t always be this tough 

The thought of being sober on holiday – or turning down a free drink – feels hard right now because you’ve not done it before. It’s easy to catastrophize and imagine that sobriety will mean a lifetime of facing these kind of battles, but that really isn’t the case.  

‘Sober firsts’ – i.e. the first time you stay sober in a situation where you normally drink – are often tough. You’re breaking an association and choosing a different behaviour. It’s going to push you out of your comfort zone and feel a bit awkward. 

However, the next time you’re in a similar situation, it’ll feel better because you know you can do it. The time after that will be even easier. Sobriety won’t always feel like such hard work – the hardest part is right now. It’s all up from here! 

 

Practice gratitude 

If you catch yourself falling into one of those ‘I’m missing out’ spirals, force yourself to stop and list five things you’re grateful for. When our attention is solely on what we can’t have, we tend to get tunnel vision and miss all the amazing things happening around us. Focusing on what you’re grateful for gets you out of your own head.

I recommend asking this question: ‘Why isn’t this moment enough without alcohol?’ Stop to consider whether you really need a mind-altering substance in order to enjoy a fun party or a beautiful holiday. Is it not enough on its own? Pause for a moment and just be grateful to be having the experience in the first place. Appreciate it, just as it is.

If you need support to stop drinking or take a break from booze, click here for details of my online course.

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

(It’ll help keep you on track tonight)

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