2019 In Review: Our Alcohol Free Highlights Of The Year

2019 In Review: Our Alcohol Free Highlights Of The Year

Thinking about taking a break from booze in the New Year?

If you’ve been wondering what an alcohol-free life is really like, today’s blog is for you.

A few days ago, I asked some of the women I’ve worked with if they had a picture of their favourite sober moment of 2019.

I was expecting to get a few photos, but the end result blew me away.

I received tons of inspiring pictures and the stories behind them were so cool, I had to share them with you. 

In fact, I got so many photos I couldn’t fit them into a regular blog post, so I made a little video instead.

No matter where you are on your sober journey, I hope you feel inspired by these amazing women and their sober highlights: 

What is YOUR sober highlight of the year?

If you’ve got a favourite alcohol-free moment that you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it!


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

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5 Mindset Tips For An Amazing, Alcohol Free Christmas

5 Mindset Tips For An Amazing, Alcohol Free Christmas

When I was struggling with my drinking, I couldn’t get my head around the idea of an alcohol free Christmas and New Year. 

Booze is such a big part of the festive season, and I was convinced that not drinking would inevitably mean not having any fun either.

Fortunately, I was completely wrong about that!

I’ve had some of my best Christmases since I quit drinking, and I want to make sure that you do too. 

The key is to approach this time of year with the right mindset and the right attitude.

Here are 5 secrets to an amazing alcohol free Christmas:

 

Get clear on what makes Christmas special

A drug like alcohol isn’t the magic ingredient that transforms Christmas into something fun. Just look at the people who love this time of year the most – children! Do they need a drug like alcohol in order to have an incredible time? No way.

It’s not booze that creates that sense of specialness – how can a drug that numbs and dulls you do that? It can’t. The festive season is special because of 101 other things, e.g. the chance to spend time with people you care about and enjoy some time off work. 

 

Remember why you quit drinking 

Something I get all my students to do is to write a proper list of all the reasons why they’ve decided to ditch alcohol. (I explained how to do this here). It takes time to complete this exercise properly but it is incredibly worthwhile.

If you find yourself romanticising or glamorising alcohol, return to your list and remind yourself of the reality of your drinking. You deserve an alcohol free Christmas. It’s so much better than hangovers, guilt, remorse and regrets. 

 

Get excited about the new experiences you’re going to have

You already know what a boozy Christmas feels like. You’ve been there and done that. This year, you’re not going to waste time drinking – you’ll tick things off your to do list in good time and feel good because it’s not a stressful, hungover rush. 

This will be the year you discover that you don’t need a mind-altering drug in order to have a good time. This will be the year you create crystal clear new memories, show up for the people you care about, push yourself out of your comfort zone and feel incredibly proud of yourself. 

 

Know that you’re stronger than you think

Life is rarely like a Christmas card – things go wrong, or we have annoying relatives and family dramas. But alcohol doesn’t help with any of that. Instead, it makes us more argumentative and less resilient to stress. As coping mechanisms go, it’s a pretty bad one. 

An alcohol free Christmas makes it easier to face tricky situations head on. You can observe what does and doesn’t work for you with a clear head, which puts you in a more empowered position for next year. Jane – one of my Getting Unstuck students – recently shared this:

“Because I was sober, I realised that I don’t actually like roast dinners… and I don’t want to spend Christmas Eve peeling veggies for a roast dinner I don’t want to eat. This Christmas I will be in France, skiing with my kids and ignoring the relatives I can’t seem to please.”

 

Create new rituals

If you always have champagne on Christmas morning, now’s the time to decide how you’re going to handle that. Or if you’ve always drunk your way through boring afternoons with relatives, this could be a great opportunity to mix things up and create a new routine.

You could buy alcohol-free fizz for Christmas morning or make fancy hot chocolates with the kids; set up a mocktail bar, go out for a walk, find the best festive lights in your neighbourhood, take a trip somewhere, play a game or do something completely indulgent. This is your alcohol free Christmas and you deserve to have fun!

 

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

 

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Drinking Too Much? 6 Things We All Do But Never Talk About

Drinking Too Much? 6 Things We All Do But Never Talk About

Drinking too much can be a very isolating experience. 

This is particularly the case if you’re a grey zone drinker (like I was). I never felt like an alcoholic, but I wasn’t a “normal” drinker either. 

When you’re in the grey zone, life often looks fine to the outside world. You get the kids to school and turn up at work on time. 

Yet all too often you’re quietly battling a killer hangover after drinking too much at home the night before. 

It’s easy to become convinced that you’re the only person who feels this way. 

But you’re not.

I’ve coached hundreds of women to quit drinking, and in doing so I’ve noticed some distinct patterns, and recurring themes, in people’s experiences. 

In fact, there are a few things that nearly all worried drinkers do, but rarely admit:

 

1. Hiding drinks

Maybe you top up your glass when your partner isn’t looking. You open a bottle of wine and imply that it’s your first drink of the evening, when it isn’t. Or maybe you go to the bar and quietly order a double, rather than a single. 

Perhaps you pour your alcoholic drink into a mug, because it feels easier than explaining to someone that you fancied a drink already. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re hiding a few sips or a few bottles – the fact is that you’re trying to conceal what you’re really drinking. 

 

2. Keeping one eye on the bottle

Your ability to hold a conversation whilst knowing exactly how much is left in the bottle is like a superpower – you never lose track. And you’re always noting how much other people have left in their glasses, so you can keep pace.

This means part of you is slightly distracted, because you’re always thinking about your alcohol supply. Should you order another bottle for the table? Does it look like you’re drinking too much? And why, oh why, do other people drink so slowly?!

 

3. Sneaky searches for help 

Perhaps you have a stash of books about quitting drinking that are hidden under your bed. Maybe you type random questions into google late at night, or visit sites like this and clear your browser history afterwards. 

If you’re still wondering whether you’re drinking too much, or if things are ‘bad enough’ for you to quit, it’s worth taking a good look around you. How many books are under the bed? How long have you been worrying about this already?

 

4. Rum bum

Thank you, urban dictionary for introducing me to this crude but rather apt term! It pretty well sums up the less-than-pleasant digestive experience many people go through the morning after a night of drinking too much.

The problem is that if you’re drinking three or four times a week, your system never really gets a chance to recover, so this unpleasant side effect can be something you’re dealing with far too often. 

 

5. Visiting different shops on rotation 

If you don’t trust yourself to keep alcohol in the house, it’s easier to buy only what you plan on drinking that night. But this can mean frequent trips to the shops… and a fear that the person behind the till has noticed.

I remember going into my local wine shop and the owner said, “We’ve got some more of your favourite here.” I know he meant well, but the fact that he’d noticed what I regularly bought made me feel so paranoid, I didn’t return for months. 

 

6. Creating rules. Lots of rules

Here are some examples: waiting until a set time of day to have your first drink. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water. Only drinking in certain places, with certain people, or on certain days of the week. Using smaller glasses, or drinking alcohol you don’t like the taste of…

At the height of my drinking career, I had so many ‘rules’ about my drinking I could hardly remember them all, never mind stick to them. They were all attempts at trying to control something that was getting out of control. Creating lots of rules is a sign that you’re drinking too much – and all is not ok. 

 

If you’d like some help to quit 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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How To Survive The Boozy Festive Season

How To Survive The Boozy Festive Season

The festive season is supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’… but it’s also the booziest. 

There are parties to navigate, family gatherings and endless occasions where we’re encouraged to ‘celebrate’ with everyone’s favourite drug – alcohol. 

This will be my 7th sober Christmas and I’m really looking forward to it. 

I consider sobriety to be a lifestyle upgrade – I don’t want hangovers spoiling my fun (or making this hectic time of year any harder than it already is).

But I haven’t always felt this confident. 

I know December can be a challenging month if you’ve recently quit drinking or you’re trying to drink less.

 

Here are 20 tips to help you survive the boozy festive season, sober!

 

1. Decide you’re not going to drink

I know this sounds so obvious, but seriously – don’t just ‘wait and see’ how you feel. A ‘maybe’ nearly always ends up being a yes (you just do a lot of dithering first!) 

Before each event, decide in advance whether you’re going to drink or not. Once the decision is made, move on. You’ve done the thinking bit – now it’s time to take action. 

 

2. Create an empowering playlist 

Stamp out any thoughts about being a sober loser or missing out. If you keep telling yourself that you’re going to be bored because you’re AF, then guess what? That probably will happen.

Listen to your favourite songs and focus on what you’ll gain from showing up as your awesome, alcohol-free self. Think about how great you’ll feel afterwards – you’ll be so proud. 

 

3. Act like a non smoker

What I mean by this is own your sobriety. There’s no need to go around apologising for not drinking. (Would you apologise for not smoking? Or not eating meat? I don’t think so.)

You don’t owe anyone an explanation – your decision not to drink is your decision, no one else’s. Click here for some ideas on how to answer the ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ question. 

 

4. Get clear on what each event is about

In this boozy world of ours, it’s easy to forget that parties are about more than drinking. They’re really about humans coming together to connect, socialise and have fun. 

Your Christmas meal is about spending time with family. And that work party is about celebrating with colleagues (people who, FYI, you spend most of your time with sober!) 

 

5. Plan your drinks

This isn’t the time of year to be making do with any old drink or leaving things to chance. You deserve to celebrate with something special too! Take control of your drinks and plan ahead. 

If you’re going to a party, offer to supply the alcohol free drinks. You’ll be amazed how quickly they disappear. The chances are, other people will appreciate having more choice.  

 

6. Do your research 

If you’re going out for a meal or drinks in a bar, check out their website before you go. Most places have a drinks menu online so you can see what AF offerings they have. 

I find mocktail menus aren’t always that easy to spot in a busy bar (they tend to put the more expensive, alcoholic options at eye level) so it’s great to have this information in advance. 

 

7. Keep doing the basics 

What’s helped you get this far? Maybe there’s a special mocktail you rely on at wine o’clock, a blog you love or a podcast you listen to on your way to work. Keep these habits going. 

Whilst your regular routine is likely to change during the festive season, staying in contact with your sober world will help keep you focused and in the right mindset. 

 

8. Give yourself permission to say no 

When you’re truly prioritising your sobriety, there’s nothing that you really ‘have’ to do. You can leave early, you can stay at home and you can just say no. 

A few hurt feelings are an acceptable price to pay if it keeps you alcohol free. Whenever you feel you ‘have’ to do something, ask yourself – will this matter a month from now, or a year from now? 

 

9. Don’t romanticise alcohol 

It’s not what’s in your glass that dictates the success of an evening – it’s the mood you’re in before you go, the people you’re with, the atmosphere, the music and 101 other things! 

Drinking at a bad party just means you’re drunk at a bad party. Booze isn’t what makes the festive season special. All it can do is help you numb out from your one and only life. 

 

10. Look out for other non drinkers 

Make a conscious effort to do this. Otherwise it’s very easy to talk yourself into believing that you’re the only non drinker on the planet (or at least in the room) and that just isn’t true. 

I went to a party in a brewery the other week and even there, I wasn’t the only sober person! There will always be other people who aren’t drinking, even if it’s just because they’re driving. 

 

11. Learn from the kids 

Whenever I find myself getting socially anxious, or too stuck in my own head, I find it really helpful to observe how kids interact with one another. 

Are they waiting to grab another beer before plucking up the courage to talk to the others? No way. They just get stuck in. We were all kids once, and it really helps to remember that. 

 

12. Make sure you look great 

Being alcohol free doesn’t mean it’s not worth making an effort. You aren’t less of a person because you’re sober. You have the same right to be there as everyone else. 

So, buy something new to wear. Get your nails done and do your hair. If you look good on the outside, it will help you feel more confident on the inside. 

 

13. Drive yourself 

Not only is “I’m driving” an easy way of explaining why you’re not drinking, it’s totally brilliant when you can jump in your car and leave whenever you want.

Offer other people a lift there (and back) if you want to, but don’t feel obliged to stay until the bitter end, unless you’re having tons of fun. You came and now you’re going. 

 

14. Always have a glass in your hand

I think that one reason we love drinking is because it gives us something to do with our hands. It doesn’t matter what’s in the glass, we just need something to hold. 

Having a full glass is another great way of turning down any offers of alcoholic drinks. That way all you need to do is look at your glass and say, “No thanks, I’m good.”

 

15. Confide in someone 

Don’t keep your sobriety a secret. When you share your goal with a friend or partner, it helps make it a bit more real, and you get some accountability. 

Remember, you’re not asking for their opinion, just their support. If they can’t offer you this, consider looking elsewhere for help. You can find details of my online programme here.

 

16. Write down your wins 

Everyday, write down one or two things that have gone well. What are you proud of? What are you pleased about? Give yourself the acknowledgement you deserve. 

Put a reminder on your phone so that you’re prompted to do this every evening before bed. By the New Year, you’ll have a great list to look back on. 

 

17. Make a list of alcohol free things you love about this time of year 

I love the Christmas coffee in my local cafe, the pretty lights outside people’s homes, the smell of Christmas candles and the chance to catch up with friends. What do you love?  

This is a great exercise to keep your head in the game and your focus in the right place. There’s so much more to the festive season than alcohol. 

 

18. Understand that not everyone is going to ‘get’ it 

Things would be so much easier if everyone was open minded and responded to our sobriety in exactly the right way, but life just isn’t like that. 

Keep in mind that you’ve quit drinking for you and no one else. This means you don’t need the approval of those around you. You know you’re on the right path, and that’s all that matters. 

 

19. Keep things in perspective 

In a few short weeks, this will all be over. In many ways, the festive season is just like any other time of year – there are good bits, bad bits and bits that are just ‘ok’. 

If this is your first sober Christmas, take some time out to think about how you want to feel by the time we hit the New Year. You haven’t come this far to only come this far… right? 

 

20. Treat yourself 

I say this to my students all the time – just because you’re sober, it doesn’t mean you need to be ‘on’ 24/7. Don’t skip the downtime you’d get if you were drinking. You aren’t superwoman. 

You deserve lots of sober treats and rewards, because having the courage to go against the grain is a big deal. Take extra good care of yourself – you’re awesome. 

 

Now let me know…

What are the tips and tricks that get you through the festive season? What will you be focusing on over the coming weeks? 

Leave me a note in the comments below – I know so many people head there for encouragement and support.

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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Feeling Grateful: Because I Was Sober Today…

Feeling Grateful: Because I Was Sober Today…

My American friends will be celebrating Thanksgiving later this week.

It got me thinking about gratitude and the important role it plays in sobriety.

Alcohol-free living is a mindset game, and it makes such a difference when your focus is on what’s going well

We all tend to have a negativity bias, and when we’re working on something challenging (like quitting drinking) it’s easy to focus on what’s not going so great.

If you know you have a tendency to overlook the positives (I’m definitely guilty of this 🙋‍♀️) then keep reading!

No matter where you are on your alcohol-free journey, I’d like you to finish this sentence:

 

“Because I was sober today…”

 

I asked the students on my Getting Unstuck course to answer this same question. They had some lovely answers:

Because I was sober today…

“… I had the patience to read to my kids at bedtime without thinking about my glass of wine downstairs.” Marianne

“… I went to the gym without that sick feeling.” Rosaleen

“… I meditated in the morning and then went to a SoulCycle class.” Michele

“… I got out of the house with the boys on time to get them to the childminders and nursery. And I spontaneously did a good deed for a friend before 9am.” Ellie

“… I absolutely know that any feelings I have are true and genuine, and have nothing to do with underlying guilt, shame and anger about drinking.” Ally

“… I woke early and had coffee in bed with my husband as we chatted.” Linda

“… I was able to truly enjoy the company of my grandchildren.” Debra

“… I got through a massive day at work where my boss flew in to test us all. I stood up to him, clear-headed and bright eyed instead of trying to avoid him.” Clare

 

Now it’s your turn… 

In the comments below, finish the sentence, “Because I was sober today…”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on Day 1 or Day 1000. I know sobriety will be making a difference to your life, and I’d love to hear about it. Let me know below👇

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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