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.

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Fear Of Failure: What If I Try To Quit, But Can’t?

Fear Of Failure: What If I Try To Quit, But Can’t?

You keep thinking about quitting drinking, but every time you’re about to dive in and really go for it, the fear of failure takes over.

Suddenly, there are 101 reasons why now isn’t the right time: you’ve got a holiday coming up, you’re busy, your friends won’t like it, you never stick at things…

Lurking behind those different reasons tends to be one main fear: what if I try to quit, but I can’t do it?

Personally, I know the fear of failure held me back for a long time. It felt safer and easier to stay in my comfort zone instead.

Can you relate? In this blog I’m sharing two ways of reframing this fear and seeing things a little differently…

Here’s what you need to remember when your fear of failure kicks in:

 

Know that doing nothing is still a decision

When we’re catastrophizing and getting caught up in the fear of failure, we’ll often freeze and do nothing. It can feel safer to stay stuck, because when you’re not even trying to quit drinking, you protect yourself from the risk of failing. 

Yet when we stop and think about this, it’s not quite so straightforward.

Choosing to do nothing isn’t as passive as you might think. It’s still a conscious choice. Not making a decision to do anything about your drinking is making a decision, because you’re choosing to make do with the status quo. 

If you’re reading a blog like this, the chances are that you’re not happy with your relationship with alcohol. And yet by freezing – and letting your fear of failure take over – you’re choosing more of what’s making you miserable. You are choosing a life of hangovers, shame and regrets.

Worse still is that over time, the status quo will change. Your drinking is likely to increase and your quality of life will continue to degrade. It’s important to understand that this is what you’re choosing, when you decide to do nothing. (I wish I’d realised this a lot sooner.)

 

You can’t avoid discomfort – but you can make sure it’s worth it 

Time for some truth talk: if you quit drinking, you’re going to feel some discomfort, because stepping outside your comfort zone is scary. And of course, there’s also the fear of failure; the risk that things won’t go well. That’s tough to deal with.

However, the status quo (drinking) is also causing you some serious discomfort right now. Hangovers are hard work, right? They make you feel terrible, physically and mentally, and struggling with your drinking can eat away at your confidence and self esteem.

My point is this: you’re going to have to tolerate some discomfort no matter what you do next.

That’s the bad news. The good news? If both options involve a bit of discomfort, why not take a gamble on sobriety? You’ve got nothing to lose.

You already know how alcohol makes you feel and it’s not good. Sobriety is the only option that has the potential for a happy outcome.

I know it’s hard and scary at first, but it won’t stay that way – I promise! In the long term, being alcohol-free is much easier than drinking. Sobriety can be completely life changing (just click here to see how it’s transformed the lives of my students). 

Success is rarely a smooth path from A to B. When you’re trying to do something great – and sobriety truly is great – you might fall flat on your face from time to time. But even if that happens, you’re still making progress. You’re taking action, moving forward and giving yourself the opportunity to experience a more fulfilling way of life.

Go for it. You won’t regret it 🙂


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

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How To Stay Sober At A Wedding (And Still Have Fun)

How To Stay Sober At A Wedding (And Still Have Fun)

In our boozy world, alcohol and celebration tend to go hand in hand.

So how do you stay sober at a wedding or party and still have fun with everyone else?

For many people, the idea of not drinking at these events feels so daunting, they decide to put their alcohol-free goals on hold. 

But there’s a big problem with that approach.

I know (from personal experience!) that months can slip by as you wait for all the weddings, BBQs and summer parties to come and go. There’s always something on the horizon.

I hope today’s blog inspires you to take action and stick with sobriety, no matter how busy your social calendar is!

 

How to stay sober at a wedding (and still have fun)

 

Go all in

This is really important: if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to give it 100%. Don’t ‘wait and see’ how you feel when you get there, or ‘try to be good’. All that’ll happen is that you’ll agonise over whether or not to drink, before eventually giving in. A ‘maybe’ is nearly always a yes. None of these other tips will help you, unless you make a firm decision that you’re not going to drink! 

 

Plan ahead 

The chances are that at some point during the wedding, you’ll be offered a glass of something alcoholic to toast the happy couple. By anticipating this now, you can plan how you’ll handle it. Personally, I like to keep things really simple. I’ll say something like, “I’d love a drink – what alcohol-free options do you have?”

I don’t apologise for requesting something different. There are many reasons why someone may choose not to drink, so you are entitled to be catered for. I nearly always find there is a tray of alcohol-free drinks nearby, you just can’t always spot it immediately. If you have to order a drink, be specific about what you want. If you’d like your drink to be served in a champagne flute, say so.

You might also want to consider what you’ll say to people if they ask why you’re not drinking. It’s actually none of their business, but it can be handy to have a response prepared. (I have some ideas here.) 

 

Understand that alcohol does not equal fun, joy or celebration

If you’ve ever been to a party where you’ve drunk loads, but you still haven’t felt happy, you’ll know that alcohol isn’t the secret to having a great time. Culturally, we’re so trained to associate booze with celebration, we tend to forget you can have one without the other.

We gloss over the fact that drunk people can cry and be upset, argue and even get into fights. Some drinkers fall asleep or withdraw and become spaced out and distant. There’s a very high chance they’ll miss the special, memorable moments of the day.

When you choose to stay sober at a wedding, you free up more space for happiness and joy. Last year one of my Getting Unstuck students discovered this for herself when she got married, alcohol-free. 

Emily said: “Being sober at your own wedding is AWESOME! I danced, I sang, I actually ate dinner. Best of all, I was 100% present for the entire night and remember every unforgettable moment. I even drove us back to the hotel. It wasn’t just the most meaningful weekend of my life, but also, truly, the most fun. I am so glad I got my shit together for this.” (You can see Emily’s lovely wedding pic here).

 

Welcome the highs and the lows 

In her TED talk, Brene Brown says “You cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.” We need the harder, challenging experiences in order to truly appreciate the good moments. We’re not supposed to numb our way through life – we’re meant to feel those ups and downs.

When you’re sober, you probably will be more aware of your own insecurities and awkwardness. But it’s worth it, because the highs are going to be higher.

It feels great when you catch yourself having fun and laughing hard, and you know it’s because you’re genuinely having a good time – your emotions are real and haven’t been chemically altered in any way.

Nothing beats being able to show up fully for the people you care about, to support them and remember all of their special day.

 

A few quick points: 

Remember what the day is really about. It’s not about you or what’s in your glass, it’s about celebrating a relationship.

So many things will affect your enjoyment of the day: who you know there, how you feel, the atmosphere, the music, your outfit… none of that has anything to do with what you’re drinking.

Keep your glass full. The easiest way to turn down an alcoholic drink is to already be clutching a full glass.

If you’re trying not to draw attention, fizzy water or tonic water with lemon is a good option.

Take breaks. Weddings can be long, all day events. Sneak off for a walk or some time to yourself whenever you need to.

Bad experiences can be good experiences. If you’re bored, that is actually useful information. Don’t you want to know what you do and don’t enjoy?

Celebrate yourself afterwards. Build in some time to rest, recover and decompress. You deserve it.

 

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10 Reasons To Quit Drinking, According To Sober Celebrities

10 Reasons To Quit Drinking, According To Sober Celebrities

When it comes to sober celebrities, it tends to be the stars who’re struggling that grab the headlines.

This is a shame, because it reinforces the idea that alcohol-free living is hard, or just for people who’ve hit rock bottom.

Personally, I’ve always been much more interested in the celebrities who are quietly teetotal.

They’re the ones we don’t hear much about, but I’m always curious to know why they decided Hollywood’s champagne lifestyle wasn’t for them.

If you need some motivation to stick to your sober goals this week, here are 10 great reasons to quit drinking – according to some amazing sober celebrities!

 

1. You’ll feel happier

“Four hours of fun the previous night resulting in an entire day of misery the next day is just bad math. I decided I couldn’t let alcohol rob me of enjoying my life’s special moments. For me, alcohol makes me happy for a little while, and sad for a longer while.”
Mike Posner, singer

 

2. Be a better parent

“My issue is I just love it [alcohol] so much. But the way I do it makes me unavailable for my son. I quit drinking back in October… for 18 years. I’m gonna stop drinking while my son’s living in my house. He’s getting to an age where he really does need me all the time in the mornings.”
Anne Hathaway, actress 

 

3. Feel healthier

“I stopped drinking because it actually was making me ill. It was affecting my brain in the worst way.”
Calvin Harris, DJ

“All the madness and chaos, and all the people around me got so tiring after a while that I had to find another way….‘[Now to relax] I do a bit of yoga and I like a nice hike.”
Colin Farrell, actor

“I think that I am firing pretty much on all cylinders… I feel like I’m better than ever, better than I’ve ever been.”
Tim McGraw, country singer 

 

4. Enjoy more free time 

“I was starting to get bad hangovers on not much booze. A glass of wine gave me a headache or even sickness the next day. The after-effects weren’t worth the fun times. I lost half days, sometimes full ones… my life is so busy that if I do have a day off, I don’t want to spend it vomiting.”
Sarah Millican, comedian 

 

5. Lose weight faster

“I realised there were lots of empty calories in booze so that is why I gave it up. If you add up through the week what I’d consume in alcohol calories it was mad. I don’t miss any of that. Now instead of partying until 6.45am, I’m in the gym at 6.45am.”
Lisa Riley, actress

 

6. Understand yourself better 

“I’m prone to depression. Drinking doesn’t help one bit… It’s not so much the drinking as the reason why you’re drinking that is the problem. When you’re drinking because you’re trying to get away from things, you’ve got to look at it.”
Andrew Flintoff, former England cricket captain

“If I found myself in a situation socially where I feel like I’m missing it [alcohol] then I would just go home. I’m obviously not in the right place. If I can’t deal with a situation sober, why would I want to deal with it at all?”
Ewan McGregor, actor

 

7. Have more energy

“I have more energy and I have more fun than when I was drinking, and I can hang out really late and get up early in the morning with no hangovers and still smile.”
Naomi Campbell, model 

 

8. Quit faking things

“I’m an actor, so I acted … all the fucking time. One thing [addiction] does is make you clever at not giving anything away. People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not – they are incredibly organised. They can nip out for a quick shot of whisky and you wouldn’t know they have gone. It’s as if … you are micro-managed by it.”
Simon Pegg, actor

 

9. Stop holding yourself back

“I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day… I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head. I realized I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life; I’m really gonna ruin it.'”
Bradley Cooper, actor

 

10. Do better at work 

“I realised it was not going to end well. I got into the acting programme, it was very challenging, I was hungover and I wasn’t doing so well in my classes. And I thought, ‘Do you know what? It’s going to be one or the other. I can’t really have both.’”
Kristin Davis, actress 

“I always wanted to see how far I could go in the sport. I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. There were a lot of talented British players around but they didn’t take it as seriously as I did, they weren’t focused enough.”
Andy Murray, British tennis player


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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You’re Not Missing Out: Sober Holiday Myths

You’re Not Missing Out: Sober Holiday Myths

At this time of year, I often hear from people who’re worried that a sober holiday means missing out.

They can’t imagine skipping cocktails by the pool or saying no to wine with their evening meal. Sampling the local booze is all part of the ‘cultural experience’, right?

When you’re feeling this way, it’s easy to talk yourself into giving up on your sober goals.

I totally understand this fear of feeling deprived. No one wants to feel as if they’re having less fun than everyone else, do they?

That’s why I’ve written this blog. I have a totally different perspective on ‘missing out’ that will help you look at things in a different light

 

Understand that everyone is ‘missing out’ – all the time!

Have you heard of the invisible gorilla? In a study, participants were asked to watch this video of people playing basketball. They had to count the number of passes made by people on one of the teams. In the middle of the video, a gorilla strolls across the screen, faces the camera and thumps its chest.

If you were watching, would you spot the gorilla? Most of us think ‘yeah, of course I would!’ And yet a Harvard study found that half the viewers didn’t see it. They were so focused on watching the players and counting the passes, they noticed nothing else. 

So what’s this got to do with sobriety?

The point is, we only ever absorb a tiny fraction of what’s going on around us. We miss stuff all the time. When we’re on holiday we’re bombarded with new sights, new culture, food, beaches, architecture and often a different language. No matter how hard you try, you will come home having only experienced a tiny part of it. We simply cannot take everything in.

This means that everyone – sober or not – is ‘missing out’ on something.

No one can ever have a ‘full’ or ‘complete’ experience of anything. It’s just not possible. Once we understand this concept, our focus can shift from “Am I going to miss out?” to “Ok, what is it I’m happy to miss out on?” And this brings me on to my next point.

 

Decide what you do want to make space for 

When you choose to experience less of one thing (e.g. alcohol) you create more room for other experiences. If you think about everything you want from your next trip and imagine squeezing it all into one suitcase, is there room for alcohol in there too?

Here’s what I know about booze: it takes up waaay more space than you think. It’s very greedy. As soon as you start drinking, your lovely holiday is no longer savoured or truly appreciated. Instead, you’re obsessing about when you’ll drink next. What will you have? Where? How much? You’re constantly battling with yourself. 

When you’re drinking, you become the person who misses the gorilla.

You’re so focused on booze, everything else gets squeezed out. The quality time you wanted to have with your loved ones? You miss out on that because you’re numb and not fully present. The lovely restaurant that serves great food but doesn’t offer booze? You don’t bother going. The tourist trips you were excited about? You struggle through them, hungover. That rested, recharged feeling you craved? It’s vanished. 

You deserve better than this, right?

If you’ve not experienced a sober holiday before, isn’t it about time you tried one? Change the script this year and stop missing out on the kind of break you deserve. I’ve written before about why sober holidays are THE cheapest and best upgrade you’ll ever get – you can read that here.

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)

As well as the guide, we’ll also send you helpful and inspiring weekly emails with free resources, tips & advice, plus details of our awesome products and services. We’ll take care of your data in accordance with our privacy policy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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