Sober September is here already!
The seasons are changing and that back-to-school feeling is in the air…
If you’ve been drinking more than you planned to over the past few months, now is as good a time as any to turn over a new leaf and get back on track.
Going alcohol-free is one of the most empowering and exciting things you can do for yourself. However, successful sobriety isn’t just about ditching booze and hoping for the best – there’s a bit more to it than that…
Today I want to share a few key strategies to help you have a great month.
6 Tips For A Successful Sober September
1. Mother yourself
Cravings are the body’s way of trying to tell us that something isn’t right; that we’re out of balance and need to take action to feel better. As drinkers, we’ve trained ourselves to interpret that craving sensation as a cue for alcohol. But when we were younger, we didn’t do that.
Think of it this way: if your child started being grumpy, restless and irritated with everything, you wouldn’t reach for the wine bottle to soothe them, right? Instead, you’d troubleshoot the problem and try to make things better. You’d mother them.
Are they tired? Hungry? Thirsty? Bored? Do they need a cuddle? Connection? Love, help, support? As adults, our needs are basically still the same, only we’ve been conditioned to think that all we need is wine – that it’s some kind of magic fix. But drinking never, ever gives us what we really need.
2. Gather evidence
A common mistake people make during a month off booze is to romanticise and glamorise the thing they can’t have. They spend the whole time focusing on what they’re missing out on and counting down the days until they can drink again.
A better approach is this: keep a list of all the so-called ‘benefits’ you think you get from drinking. Next to the list of benefits, draw two columns: evidence for, and evidence against.
For example, if you’re convinced that you need wine in order to make date night more special, what about all those times when you’ve argued after drinking too much, or become distant, sleepy and distracted? That is important evidence to note down.
Leave plenty of space between each benefit so you can add things as you go along. Even if you’re convinced alcohol definitely does provide a particular benefit – and there isn’t any evidence to the contrary – the chances are that belief will change with time.
3. Fill your head with good stuff
Keep the right mindset by using any gaps during the day to listen to a book or a podcast about sobriety. Listening rather than reading makes it easy to squeeze a chapter in here and there, while you’re driving to work, tidying up or walking home etc etc.
If you need some ideas, click here for a few of my book suggestions. A good podcast to try is The Bubble Hour. I was on it a while back (listen here) and I think the next episode (released tomorrow) is going to feature one of my students, Monica 🙂
4. Keep a list of things you’re proud of
Before you go to bed, take a few seconds to note down at least one reason why you’re proud of yourself that day. Perhaps you’re feeling good because you didn’t drink, or maybe there’s something else you need to give yourself acknowledgement for.
When you’re struggling with your drinking, your self esteem can plummet. And when you’re feeling really down on yourself, it can seem even harder to do the stuff that’s outside your comfort zone – like stopping drinking.
You can find one thing you’re proud of each day. At the end of your sober September, look back on your list. Is there more on it than you expected? How much of it would’ve happened if you’d been drinking? This is all good stuff to reflect on.
5. Change one small thing
You’ve already made one bold move by quitting drinking, so why not do another and change something else in your life that isn’t working? If you’re relying on a drug like alcohol to get through an average Monday night, it’s a sign that something else isn’t quite right.
Now of course, there are plenty of things that are far too big to fix or change in a month. But you probably can make one tiny step towards making your life easier.
Maybe it’s setting better boundaries at work, not checking your emails after a certain time, getting more help at home or just going to bed a bit earlier. Find your one small thing and commit to making it happen.
6. Stay focused
I know how tempting it is to try and do it all. As well as sober September, you want to start a new diet and master a new fitness regime. However, taking on too much at once tends to be a recipe for disaster – you end up feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up on everything.
In the long run, alcohol free living will be a great foundation for achieving your other health goals. But first, you need to get comfortable in your sober shoes. You only have a finite amount of willpower, and right now it all needs to go into mastering this one thing.
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.
Thanks Kate, these tips are so helpful. I missed the deadline for your last course but am on the waitlist for the next one. Until then I’m trying to get as many sober days together as I can, so we’ll see how sober sept goes. I seem to do fine during the week, but weekends are a different story!
No problem Liv, I look forward to working with you in a few weeks time. Keep on getting those sober days under your belt – it all helps. I also wanted to share this older blog post of mine about surviving the weekends – I hope it’s useful! https://thesoberschool.com/alcohol-free-weekend/
This is a great article. Since joining your course (April 2017) I am now three years five months sober. The one top tip I learned from you is that being dehydrated or hungry can cause “cravings”. I don’t have cravings now at all (Yaaaay!) but I still remind myself regularly to drink plenty of water and keep a few healthy snacks in my handbag, just in case.
Kate, you’re simply the best. Thanks for another fantastic post. You nail it.
Thanks Ann, I appreciate your comment! 🙂
Another brilliantly helpful post which has helped inspire me again. On day 29 AF and always looking for motivation. Thanks Kate 🙂
Congratulations on your 29 days Claire!
Great tips! I could especially relate to #2. I used to think so many things were better with alcohol, but when I really looked at it, I saw that they weren’t. I look forward to reading more here!
How do you feel being AF for 29days?
Thanks Kate, your blog and tips have helped me a lot. I haven’t drank for 3 months now and I was a bit tempted out on Sat night, we were out with 2 other couples for a nice dinner at a winery. But I reminded myself of your tip – Remember how you’ll feel when you wake up in the middle of the night with a headache and then again in the morning with a hangover. All for a few hours of indulging. Your regular blog helps keep me strong. I am going to take your advice and find some podcasts that resonate with me as well.
Playing the movie forward – and forcing yourself to think about what’s really going to happen if you drink – is always so powerful. Congratulations on your 3 months Karen! 🙂
Hi Kate, I have been AF since 28.06 and am loving it. Whenever I think that ‘just one’ will be ok, I remind myself that I have a cycle I ALWAYS go through – ‘just one’ becomes a bottle, which then leads to cigarettes, which then leads to guilt the next day and being so uncomfortable when I exercise (I LOVE running, but hate myself when I make it so tough). I remind myself how strong I feel when I run and how much pleasure it gives me and that makes me re-think the drink. My relationship with my teenage son has become so much better since I have gone AF. I often read back over your blog posts whenever I start to hear that whisper in my brain, and they always give me a kick. I am really grateful for you and the other women promoting an AF lifestyle and knowing that I am not unique and there is nothing wrong with me because I have this battle, but rather it is the substance that is addicting has also really changed how I perceive alcohol. Thank you and best wishes. Cyndi
Congratulations on your sobriety Cindy – it sounds as if you have some great strategies in place here and some strong reasons for remaining AF!
Great post. Just discovered your site and very appropriate advice for my early stage of sobriety. Point number 6 I need to reflect on. I want to get fit, diet and stop drinking at the same time, but might just be a little bit too much in one go. The staying sober part though is non negotiable.
I think it’s important not to take on too much at once. One thing at a time! Keep going Jim 🙂
Exercise! It works like a charm! I find whenever I am working out regularly I don’t crave alcohol nearly as much. It really does replace the craving.
Great suggestion, thanks Hailey!
I am 70 day AF today 🙂
I took the last Getting Unstuck course,and I’ve learned somuch much, one of the thing I learned is to do one thing at a time. First I became an AF person, second to eat healthier and now I am exercising more. I have been losing weight. I have very excited. I am not looking back, l love my AF life style.
Thank you so much Kate 🙂
I have been reading about this for at least a year. I have expressed an interest in the October course. Rather than making me try for sober days, I find I am drinking more than usual in anticipation of “doing without”! My daytime mind knows that is crazy but it has happened a lot lately.