Why Alcohol-Free Living Creates Choice And Freedom

Why Alcohol-Free Living Creates Choice And Freedom

When I first quit drinking, I kept thinking about everything I’d lost.

I used to wonder – will I ever get used to this? Will it always feel like something is missing? 

I was so caught up in these thoughts I nearly missed what was happening right in front of my eyes. 

Alcohol-free living had (quietly) started to give me more choices than I had before. 

It gave me freedom. Options.

Sobriety isn’t about what you’re losing – it’s about what you’re gaining.

I explain all in this video:

Key points:

Where is your focus?

When we think about sobriety, we naturally tend to zoom in on the thing that’s gone away – the alcohol. Right from the get-go, we’re in a deprivation mindset. We can be so focused on what’s gone and what we’ve lost, we miss the freedom that’s come into our lives in its place.

 

Practical choices and freedoms

When you’re not drinking, you can spend your money just how you want to, because you don’t have to keep fuelling your habit. You get the option of starting your day right and waking up exactly when you plan to (not at 4am!) 

You can jump in the car at any time of night and call friends without worrying if they can tell you’re drinking. When you’re with others, you have the freedom to be totally focused on the present moment, rather than wondering where your next drink is coming from.

 

A free mind

When you’re sober, you are free from the decision hell that comes with using a drug like alcohol and trying to control your intake of it. This extra brain space gives you so many choices and options to do more and be the person you want to be. 

 

Lockdown freedom

Now more than ever, we need to be making lifestyle choices that give us maximum freedom. Alcohol puts you in a little prison – a mini lockdown of its own making, where it takes options away from you. None of us need that.

 

If you’d love some help and support to quit drinking, click here for details of my online course.

 

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Lovely Little Things About Alcohol-Free Living

Lovely Little Things About Alcohol-Free Living

There are many things to love about being alcohol-free.

Waking up without a hangover. Having more energy. Less anxiety. Looking better. Feeling proud of yourself.

Those are some of the big benefits. But sometimes, the little things matter just as much. 

I’m talking about the super specific stuff here – the mini moments that perhaps only you would notice. 

This video is all about the little things that make sobriety awesome:

Key points

The little things are the big things

It was Kurt Vonnegut who said, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.” 

Getting up early enough to have a few moments with your partner – or driving to work feeling ready for the day – might sound like little things. But the cumulative effect of these positive, small moments is huge.

 

Start a list

Put a reminder on your phone to prompt you to write down one thing every day that you love about being alcohol-free. Just one thing. It can be as small or as silly as you like. 

If you take a break from drinking for 6 weeks (which is what I recommend) then by the end, you’ll have 42 things on your list. That is very useful data to have when it comes to deciding what to do next.

 

If you’re not ready to take a break

Here’s what I suggest: on the days you don’t drink, add something to your list of little things you love about being alcohol-free. But when you do drink, write down – on a separate list – what you love about it.

Sometimes it can feel as if sobriety means giving up so much. But you might be surprised by just how little ends up on your “what I love about alcohol” list. With time, you might see that booze isn’t the only way to get that particular benefit. 

If you joined my stop drinking class with a very specific list of things you love about booze, you’d be way ahead of the game – and we could quickly get to work on tackling those beliefs. My next class starts in July, so you have time to prepare!

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3 Tips For Navigating Wine O’Clock In Lockdown

3 Tips For Navigating Wine O’Clock In Lockdown

“I am not going to drink anything tonight!” 

Before I got sober, I used to say that most mornings. I’d promise myself I was going to ‘be good’ and have the night off. 

Yet when the clock hit 5pm, my motivation always faded. I’d tell myself it’d just be one glass… but you can guess how that worked out.

Navigating wine o’clock can be challenging at the best of times, but when we’re in lockdown – and life is strange and stressful – it can feel even harder. 

I’m getting a lot of questions about this right now, so I wanted to share some tips for surviving wine o’clock in lockdown…

(You can download the wine o’clock survival guide I mention in the video at the end of this post)

Key points:


Remember that wine o’clock is a reflection of your entire day

A common mistake is focusing solely on the moment you crave alcohol, e.g. wine o’clock. But when we do this, we forget to look at the big picture. The way you feel late afternoon will be influenced by everything else that happens earlier on.

If you’re flat out all day, you’re going to feel it later. So rather than seeing cravings as a weakness or something to be ignored, see them as a sign that something in your day isn’t quite right and needs to be changed.

 

Check your self talk

Do you spend all day judging yourself or being critical of the way you’re responding to the current situation? If your inner dialogue is a constant stream of negativity you’re bound to want to drown that out at night. 

Using a drug like alcohol in order to escape yourself is a sign that something is off with your mindset during the day. Our thoughts are a choice and we can choose good ones that make us feel better. When you feel good, it’s easier to make the right choice at wine o’clock. 

 

Identify what you’re really craving

This is where the real work of sobriety comes in. What is the real need underneath your craving? Hint: it’s never truly about booze. Cravings are nearly always a symptom of something else. 

For example, if you’re spending a lot of time alone right now, you might be craving connection at the end of the day. Or if you’re in a busy household, you might need the opposite. It’s going to be different for all of us. 

Underneath the craving for alcohol there’s often a need that isn’t being met. You can choose to smother it with booze, or take action and treat the need itself.

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

(It’ll help keep you on track tonight)

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What Our ‘New Normal’ Can Teach Us About Sobriety

What Our ‘New Normal’ Can Teach Us About Sobriety

Right now, we’re all getting used to a ‘new normal’.

Can you imagine going back in time, and trying to explain to the January 2020 version of you what life is like today?

I would never have believed so much could change within a few months, but it has. 

This got me thinking about our ability to change and adapt. 

In fact, when it comes to sobriety, there’s a pretty valuable lesson we can learn from this lockdown life… 

The breakdown:

We adapt quicker than we think

When the lockdown first began, I couldn’t get over how quiet it was in my local town. Now I no longer stop and stare at the closed shops – I’ve just become used to it. 

What are you doing now, without even thinking about it? Perhaps keeping a 2 metre distance from others has become instinctive. Or maybe you’d never used Zoom before and now it’s second nature. 

Many things that seemed unthinkable a few months ago are now part of ‘normal’ life. 

 

What’s the lesson here?

Most of us don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable at first and we worry that it’s always going to feel unfamiliar. But that isn’t the case. 

If you can find a new normal in the middle of a global pandemic, then you can find a new normal in sobriety. Not drinking won’t always feel strange – you’ve just got to give it time.

(Plus, unlike the coronavirus, sobriety is awesome!)

 

Take a proper break from booze

The reason I’m always going on about this is because finding a new normal takes time. My online course is 6 weeks long because sobriety isn’t a one and done job – it takes a while to settle in.

When you’re in the cycle of ‘being good’ from Monday to Thursday each week – and then drinking all weekend – you never get to a new normal. In fact, all you do is repeat the hardest bit of sobriety each week (I wrote more about this here.)

 

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Drinking Through A Crisis: Does It Really Help?

Drinking Through A Crisis: Does It Really Help?

“It may take a village to raise a child but it’s going to take a vineyard to homeschool this kid!” 

I’ve seen so many posts like this on social media recently (and I bet you have too!)

We’re all looking for ways to cope right now, so it’s not surprising that many people are drinking more. We tend to turn to alcohol in a crisis.

But – and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming – when so many people are drinking more in order to deal with this crisis, it’s easy to overlook an obvious question:

Does alcohol really help us cope?

Key points:

 

If you’re drinking more right now, you’re not alone. 

In the UK, alcohol sales in supermarkets and corner shops were up by 22% in March. According to a study by Alcohol Change UK, one in five people say they’re drinking more during this global crisis. 

On social media, I’d guess that memes, jokes and posts about booze have increased by about 100%. Whatever the number, it feels like a big increase. And how it feels is important. It’s easy to think, “Well if everyone is drinking, it must be a good idea?”

 

What is coping, really?

Coping is about managing your emotions successfully – i.e. in a way that doesn’t add further stress to your life. Alcohol does not do that. 

Within a few hours, drinking will make you feel worse. A hangover makes everything from homeschooling to looking after your health much harder. 

Plus, the morning after hangxiety will make you even more stressed out, so you crave another drink even more. It’s a vicious cycle. 

 

Assessing alcohol properly

Many people fixate on how alcohol makes them feel during the first 30 – 60 mins. But this is like reviewing a movie based on the first scene alone. 

When judging alcohol as a coping mechanism, you’ve got to look at the whole picture. So that means accounting for how well you cope the next day, when you’re hungover after drinking. 

How is alcohol helping you cope when you wake up at 4am, unable to sleep? How is it helping you cope when you feel tired, irritable and anxious the next day?

 

Choose a different belief 

If you’ve read this far, then it’s highly likely that the “alcohol helps me cope” story isn’t working for you. The good news? You can choose a different story. 

I know you can do this because you’re a strong person. (It’s a total myth that drinkers are weak. You have to be strong in order to drink, deal with all the side effects and still keep the show on the road.)

What if you believed that being alcohol-free was essential for coping with this crisis? What if your story was, “this is a great time to be hangover-free.” Or “lockdown is an opportunity to quietly take a break from booze.”

What if you just experimented with that idea? 

 

More help and support

This blog has more tips on coping with stress, sober. This one is all about challenging your beliefs about booze. And here’s some more information about my online course, which will help you change your relationship with alcohol for good.

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

(It’ll help keep you on track tonight)

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How I Knew It Was Time To Quit Drinking

How I Knew It Was Time To Quit Drinking

How do you know when it’s time to quit drinking or take a break from booze? It can be tough to tell.

We tend to view drinking as a black and white issue; you’re either a ‘normal drinker’ or an alcoholic.

In fact, many people are somewhere in the middle – in the grey zone. Life might look fine on the outside… but alcohol is still causing misery inside.

When you’re in the grey zone, the chances are there won’t be a dramatic wake up call or a major crisis that prompts you to stop.

It will probably be subtler than that.

I asked some of the women I’ve worked with to share how they knew it was time to quit:

 

Jo: “I tried to give up alcohol for Lent and lasted less than 24 hours. My daughter was pregnant with our first grandchild and I got drunk at her baby shower. I knew I needed to get sober for her. 710 days later, I am a sober grandmother for both of my grandchildren. Best decision ever.”

Cindy: “I decided to stop when I realized I was the only person still at the party. I was always the only person most drunk. I hated myself after every event. My family was concerned about me.”

Emily: “I saw an advert for a fun event in the park and my first thought was “Oh, too bad I can’t go to that, there won’t be any alcohol there.” That was the moment that I realized that I was so reliant on alcohol. I didn’t want to live my life like that.”

Heather: “In the last months of drinking my cleaner found a glass of wine hidden in the utility room. A friend borrowed a coat and found a glass in the pocket… I knew I was on the verge of losing my credibility and becoming known as someone with a drink problem.”

Jackie: “I came home from work, didn’t change my clothes or feed the dog… I went straight to the wine bottle, poured a large glass and started drinking just standing, looking at the cabinets. I knew right then I was in trouble.”

Ann: “I knew deep down that drinking was making everything worse. I had started to have suicidal thoughts every time I drank.”

Dana: “I had lost all interest in anything but drinking and did not like to be with anyone who didn’t drink.”

Kristen: “For years I tried repeatedly to moderate my drinking and failed every time. When my grandson was born with serious health issues, I knew I had to quit drinking completely in order to help care for him. I wanted to be fully present and available every hour of every day for him and his parents. Sobriety was intended to help my family — but it became the best gift I have ever given myself.”

Paula: “On Christmas day I drank wine for most of the day and it made me so sad and tired. I think this was truly the day I knew I would do everything this time to go AF for good. What was the point now that it provided no fun, just pain?”

Katie: “I realised I was likely halfway through my life, based on an average age expectancy of 81 for women in the UK. I had been suffering anxiety and depression on and off with extreme overwhelm and alcohol wasn’t helping any of that, it was making it worse.”

Amy: “I fell flat on my face the August before I took your October 2019 class while entertaining guests at our house. We had a BBQ outside and I tripped over. I cut my lip and the area between my eyes – no stitches needed but I was mortified and it looked bad for days.”

Suzanne: “I didn’t have a particular incident, just a constant niggling guilty feeling that I was plotting excuses to drink more and more. I was concerned about my health too and I was becoming very argumentative when I’d had a few glasses of wine.”

Melissa: “It was the exhaustion that finally set me free. I was tired of worrying about my drinking, of figuring out the logistics of when, where, what and how much to drink. I was tired of waking up dehydrated and feeling useless the next day.”

Victoria: “While researching a place to retire, I visited a golf community. I asked myself: Do you want to be the lady on the happy hour bar stool? Or the lady on the bicycle and golf course? Day 486.”

Suzy: “807 days ago I was taking my 20th or so break from drinking. Sometimes with the intent to quit, and other times with the intent to just take a break. Only this time I did things differently. I found your course and it was just what I needed to make it stick.”

For help and support to take a break from booze – click here for details of my online course.

Stay sober tonight - 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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