Before I quit drinking, I spent several years trying to stop.
I’d be good for a couple of days or sometimes a couple of weeks.
But at this time of year – with the holiday season fast approaching – I’d convince myself it was impossible to be sober.
It felt too hard… so what was the point in even trying?
If you can relate, this video is for you.
Thoughts about it being “too hard”
Watch out for this: “It’ll be too hard to navigate the festive season without drinking. It’ll feel horrible to try and fail. So why don’t I just give up now, forget about it all, and then I’ll get back on the alcohol free wagon in January? That’ll be easier.”
There’s nothing ‘easy’ about staggering through the next 6 weeks feeling bad about yourself, knowing that deep down, there’s a part of you that wants something different. There’s nothing easy about drinking too much and doing things you regret.
A calendar with a difference
Don’t let a couple of events or challenges dictate the next 6 weeks. There’s a lot of white space in between this stuff!
👉 Fill out my calendar here 👈 with the boozy events you have coming up – the parties or gatherings where it will be a challenge not to drink.
Count up how many days are blank. Are you surprised by the number of normal, typical, doable days there are? There are 84 time slots on the calendar (daytime and evening). As a percentage, how many of them are filled with challenges? How many aren’t?
Handling the challenges
Get a different coloured pen. Next to each event on the calendar, write down what the point is. People might talk about meeting up for drinks or getting drunk, but that’s never what an event is really about.
The point of a work party might be to spend time with people you don’t normally get a chance to have fun with. The point of a family gathering might be to catch up on everyone’s news. Remind yourself that you can still have these experiences without alcohol.
The festive season is just a period of time with some days where we eat particular foods, do certain things and speak to certain people. That’s it. Everything else is just a story. You can focus on things that create a feeling of peace and control around that… or you can focus on the things that make this feel too hard.
Looking for help and support to feel great about alcohol free living? Click here for details of my online course.
Very timely advice – almost like yo can read our minds ! I was sat looking at the week ahead and the first of the festive events starting and realising I was as much looking forward to them as I am dreading them which is a shame. I know I will drink too much, maybe embarrass myself at the work related one, miss my last train + pay a lot of money on a taxi home. It never crossed my mind that I could just not drink until you asked us to think about what the point of the events were – and now I think I could at least give it a go and feel a but more positive about going. Thanks.
Go for it Sally! Focus on why you’re really there and remember… it’s not what’s in your glass that counts. Have fun experimenting and trying a different way of handling these events 🙂
Thanks Kate. I am almost 60 days AF and recently completed your 6 week Sober School. I have to admit that recently being at a friend gathering or with my adult daughter visiting for Thanksgiving, I have contemplated having that “one glass of wine”. But, your course busted so many alcohol myths for me that I am reminded that I don’t do “just one glass of wine” well at all. I am looking at all the “white space” on my holiday calendar and realizing it’s very white. Plus, I don’t want to start over in January! It took me 4 decades to become alcohol free and I don’t want to screw up my new way of living .
This really made me think. Mentally I had written off December as too hard, too busy, too many things to do! But if I’m honest, I’ve got quite a few weeks with not much happening. I know I feel better and get so much more done when I don’t drink.
December could be much more doable than you think! Go for it Alexandra 🙂
I agree what you’ve said. But know I’ll feel pressured to have a drink so my strategy is to drive as I know I definitely won’t have one then.
Driving is actually a great idea – it gives you another reason to stick to your plan 🙂
I almost burst out laughing, you so perfectly described my situation and the way I’ve been thinking. This is such a good way to counteract those thoughts, especially since I don’t really have very many occasions where drinking will be front and center. Thank you!
I’m glad this resonated with you Kitty. Go for it – you might just surprise yourself 🙂
I’ve just filled in your calendar, thanks Kate. I have 7 days out of the six weeks that I have events planned. Starting with my birthday and then flying to be reunited with family over Christmas which hasn’t happened for the last 6 years!
So 7 days… that means 35 days are free? That’s good to know! Reuniting with family is so important. You want to be clear headed and hangover-free for that 🙂
Thanks for your timely video. It certainly made sense to me to think about how many events there will be against the normal days as well as what they’re for. Going in to this festive period being more mindful will be really helpful. Thanks
No problem Amanda, wishing you a very happy festive season! 🙂
Thank you for your gift of hitting the nail on the head about drinking decisions with such clarity and comfort of mind.
It is like you read my mind! I have been alcohol free for over two months thanks to you and your great advice. I can think better, I have enjoyed nights outs (despite my apprehension) and am loving not worrying about what I have said, done or acted like, never mind the hangovers and anxiety. I can’t moderate so it is easier to abstain.
I struggled through much of the festive season last year as I over did it constantly. I am proud of myself, as I was the worst person I knew for chucking it back! That voice is still there, trying to persuade me, but I am strong than it now.
Well done on your two month Nat – it sounds as if this coming festive season will be much more enjoyable for you. Be proud!
Thank you so much Kate for this video and your calendar! I just printed it out. I also like that it is 6 weeks of sobriety coming into the new year starting today as well. Thank you for the inspiration again!
No problem. Wishing you a very good 6 weeks ahead Katerina! 🙂
Festive season or festering season? It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends. Just add alcohol and it can become the festering season. I’ll be staying on my sober journey. There’s some highs and some lows, but there’s no lost evenings, hangovers or regrets. My Christmas present to myself (and the World LOL) is being present. Thankyou Kate Bee, for making it possible, the best present ever.
Love this. Sobriety really is a gift 🙂
Thank you Kate I like the fact that you are making me plan things and I am in control. I too am planning on being the driver as this is what I did before I started drinking. Your videos and pep talks are a great help.
Driving is a great idea as it gives you yet another reason not to drink, and stay accountable to your goals 🙂
I loved this Kate! This is where my mindset is at the moment & I was planning to mark out a similar thing in my diary, but this is so much better. Most of my Christmas celebrations are through the day which makes it even easier to have a coffee or water with lunch instead of a wine. Thanks so much x
I’m glad it helped Maureen. Have fun! 🙂
My December calendar is completely full of drinking opportunities. I’m going on holiday for a month to an all inclusive hotel. I know, this was a really bad idea, but it was booked well before I decided to stop drinking alcohol. I’m absolutely dreading the thought that all my endeavours to be sober are going to be wiped away in that month. Any ideas Kate.
Hi Susan, no one at the hotel is going to force alcohol into your mouth, right? So you’re still in complete control here 🙂 Keep your focus on that, rather than this idea that your hard work is going to be wiped away, or taken from you. You get to choose, every day, the liquid that goes in your glass. I have another blog here about turning down “free” drinks: https://thesoberschool.com/how-to-say-no-to-free-drinks-without-feeling-deprived/
I also recommend you journal about why staying alcohol free at this hotel is going to be the best thing ever. Put your brain to work on that.
Thank you Kate, you’re absolutely right. I’ve put so much into being sober so I need to stay strong and focus on how good I feel.
Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday. Today I will work on being sober when I see all of my four children this Christmas since 2018. That will be my 30th day AF. That’s my goal!
Gosh you always hit the nail on the head , thank you ! So much !
Thank you Kate. I couldn’t have started my sober journey without you. unfortunately I’ve had a fallback for a couple days but am on track again. It makes life so much easier and there’s no guilt. I actually was quite angry with myself that I ruined it after almost 3 months…
Shame that a few of my friends don’t understand why I decided to stop drinking all together and they think its all boring and stuff, but as I’ve learned from you, I just have to put my foot down and say NO, I don’t want to. And that will be my way for December.
Thanks Kate !! Another great video I’m 3 weeks AF and staying that way I’ve no intentions on drinking at all through Xmas period it’s my sisters birthday on 10th dec she’s going to a bar I decided not to go she understands I’m so serious about staying sober forever !! She drinks a lot so I know it will end badly always back to someone’s house going home at 4 o’clock in the morning then days are behind me . It feels great to say No !! And rest of holiday with my kids doing fun things also she’s coming Boxing Day and I’ve already told her no alcohol in the house at all I’ve promised my kids I won’t drink and I will not break that promise !!