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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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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.

 

Struggling? Listen to my free pep talk!

As well as the audio, 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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