“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)
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.
When I was trying to moderate, the temptation to give in to “wine o’clock” was always there and so hard to ignore. Plus, the negotiation with myself always led to more than just that one drink. Once I really made up my mind that I was not ever drinking, it was so much easier. Because the answer was (and is) always, “no”. I also came to terms with the fact that doing hard things won’t kill me – even more, by doing hard things, I gain more respect for myself. And that only grows with each passing day.
Wow, that is the way I hope I can get through this. You sound like you are in a good place now.
I’m on day 5 and desperate to have a drink it’s in the fridge talking to me luring me in. I didn’t purchase it, it belongs to my partner who also struggles with alcohol but doesn’t feel the need to quit like I do.
I want to feel stronger but all I thought about all day was having a drink. I mowed for 2 hours whilst listening to an audiobook on quitting and I could feel it start to spiral but didn’t have a tool in my bike to use or couldn’t think of a way to calm myself. I did meditate at 3pm which is around my usual wine o’clock it’s now 4pm and I’m searching the Internet for help. I hope that what you have emailed me helps
Great post Kim. The constant negotiation (and decision making) that comes with trying to moderate is exhausting. It’s much easier to make one firm decision, and get some peace from the “Will I, Won’t I?” battle.
The thought of NEVER having a drink again fills me with dread. I don’t go out very often but when I do, the company I am with all like a drink….
I’ve written many times before about why you don’t need to say “never”. You literally don’t need to think about that. Here’s a blog I wrote about this exact issue: https://thesoberschool.com/quit-drinking-forever/
I found this very enlightening thankyou.
Love the mindset tips, I have definitely not been thinking about wine o’clock in the context of the rest of my day, which is pretty manic right now. Today I’m going for a walk instead of drinking.
Go for it Mel. Take some time for yourself – you deserve it and need it 🙂
I have been off my weekend tipples since January ….hoping I can keep it going even in these lock down days makes it harder at the weekends but I always say to my self on a Monday well done another weekend alcohol free ….
Hangover free weekends are the best! Especially in the summer. Well done Bridie, keep going 🙂
I was finding it really hard when working from home and then losing my job. In fact I was back on the wine and feeling emotional and out of control. Now, I am having time to do meditation and yoga, eat well and get my house sorted and I realised today how relaxed I am during the day or week and I’m not on that treadmill of working, getting dinner and clean the house Which is why aim finding it easier (for now, we’ll see how I go). I came to the realisation today that like you say it is how you feel during the day that makes a difference and I don’t want a drink. Self talk is very important I stopped getting stressed about the job and told myself that it’s just the situation now and I will get through it.
When I first stopped drinking, 5pm was a real trigger for me. What helped me was to take a walk right after work. Just change to my sneakers and out the door. No time to think about anything. It quickly became routine and before I knew it, I lost some weight and i’m 2 years clean and sober. Win! Win! 4/15/18.
That’s great Renee. It sounds as if you were doing exactly what I described in this video – you were giving yourself what you really needed i.e. a break, time to yourself, fresh air, exercise, an opportunity to unwind. Congratulations on your sobriety!
I try to schedule an online yoga or exercise class,then “reward ” myself after with a delicious healthy alcohol free drink. If I focus on my body and work through the cravings it gets me through! Keep going, you can do it!
To help with my cravings I Google the benefits of not drinking. I found sites that list what happens to your body at one week, one month, 6 months etc. I screenshot the information and I reread all of these benefits to help keep me motivated to be healthy.
I’m ok not drinking monday- Thursday, but as soon as Friday comes it’s like theres a devil on my shoulder one glass is now a bottle ! I drink when I’m happy,sad,stressed and I’m struggling to identify why,its a habbit/ pattern that I would love to break,I set off with good intentions but never stick to them !i love the wine o’clock tips and I’m going to try and apply them thank you.
I’m glad this helped Jacqueline. I know it can be lonely, trying to figure this out on your own. If you need any more support to stay on track, take a look at my group coaching programme – it’s an online class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Learning about the impact this drug has on the body – and how sobriety can reverse that – is certainly be very motivating. Keep going Sarah!
I have successfully navigated my way through lockdown i have not had alchol since the 25th of March.
The way i did this was listening to your presentations and at 5pm i would pour my self a Tonic water or two that satisfied my craving for alchol.
It really works.
I have had a very stressful lockdown too so i feel i have achieved.
I am still sober on Thursday we go into lockdown 2 so i will be back to work. I intend being sober and use the same tactic.
Thankyou for all your help
It’s great to hear about your sobriety Sally – what a brilliant achievement during this difficult time. Well done! 🙂
I like replacing the wine o’clock wine with a AF drink. Something like kombucha that feels different than the rest of the day. I would have definitely rolled my eyes at this suggestion when I was drinking, but going on a year sober now!
Having a decent AF drink that feels a bit different (or special) really does help. No one should be making do with boring drinks in sobriety!
I bought a very nice tea set and have formal tea every afternoon!
It really helps-it created a whole new component to my evening routine.
I love this! It sounds beautiful!
Now I am six weeks sober, ( I made a decision to quit at the beginning of the lockdown) I find the cravings around 6pm have all but gone now
(even when my hubby gets a drink),but I satisfy myself after dinner with my fave herbal tea and a couple of squares of chocolate. ( probably not ideal to swap one form of sugar for another!) but it works for me, for now.
Also I call Sunday’s my NHS day ‘No Hangover Sunday’ whoohoo! What a thing to celebrate!
Congratulations on your sobriety Hillary – your post is a great reminder that things get much easier with time! Enjoy your hangover free Sundays 🙂
This is so true – I’m going to listen to my self-talk for the “have to” phrase and remind myself that I always a choice of how I look at situations.
I love what you said that our thoughts are a choice, and we can choose thoughts that make us feel good and on top of things.
Joining your course and working on my sobriety with you has really helped shift my mindset to treat myself more kindly – thank you Kate x
Self care and being kind to ourselves really is at the heart of so much of this. I’m delighted you’ve got so much out of my course Carla – I have enjoyed seeing you go from strength to strength!
I’ve tried to change or break certain habits that I’d built up.Drinking wine whilst cooking is now listening to the radio or a podcast or watching a youtube video as a distraction. I’ve also been making things that are different so that dinner needs my full attention. I have also been playing around with different non-alcoholic drinks to try and find my new favourite, so far its a glass full of crushed ice, fresh mint, fresh lime and lemon squeezed in and topped up with cold sparkling water.
Great tips – thank you for sharing Bev!
I love watching your videos Kate. You come across so well…intelligent, calm and very together. Your words are well put together and succinct. When I did your course (July 2018) I felt in very capable hands….thank you x
Thank you Eileen, I really appreciate your comment! It’s always lovely to hear from you ❤️
I started this journey late, on Cinco de Mayo 2020, so I am only 7 days alcohol free at this point. I love the comment about “no”, that if you don’t give yourself opportunities for “just one” or a martini instead of wine (my enemy) the answer is simply “no.” My husband and son have joined me on this journey and the support is super helpful. The other thing I do is keep a calendar on the wall in front of my computer with each alcohol free day marked and numbered to keep my honest and to keep me aware of the possibility of being alcohol free. Just one drink means I have to start back at 1…
Well done on your 7 days Allison. If you’d like some support to quit drinking (in a way that doesn’t just rely on willpower / crossing the days off) you can always check out my course – here’s some info: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Really agree with all of these tips Kate. The game changer for me has been to bring more balance to my day so I’m not so worn out by ‘wine o clock’. I’m in a busy family house, home working, home schooling, endless meals etc but find just to keep giving myself little breaks throughout the day helps keep me in balance. Around 3.30 / 4.00 I make sure I rest a little bit and exert some self care to get ahead of any cravings. Self care isn’t a treat it’s a necessity and this change of mindset has really has worked for me. Thanks for another great video xx
Absolutely – self care is a must! It sounds as if you have a lot to juggle right now, but you’re nailing it. Well done 🙂
Everyone’s comments are so inspiring and your blog was so helpful. I’m at the start of my journey, and lockdown has certainly made wine o’clock harder. However, I’m determined to change my habits and feel better about myself.
It’s great to see you here, working on this Lisa – I hope my mini videos and blogs help you. If you’re looking for some more structured support to quit (or take a break from booze) please do check out my online course: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Wishing you all the best with your alcohol free journey!
This approach has really worked for me over the last 5 weeks, looking at the whole day not just wine I clock in isolation. I had a full on day today which started with a team meeting at 7.30am and ended with a pretty demanding client at 4pm. I made sure I took my lunch break even though it was a short one away from my laptop and when a wine craving hit on the way home (first bad one in a while) I went straight to the supermarket and bought my favourite tonic and headed home. The craving only lasted half an hour but I was ready for the wine witch! Previously I would have been half a bottle in now easily. Gonna keep working on building in those relaxation moments into my busy days because it WORKS!
Well done for staying on track Jane! Another day in the books 🙂
Thanks for this Kate. I really like the points and especially the emotional side on how I feel. I have learned to keep a more balanced day and control my emotions as I was using wine to celebrate or commiserate at the end of the day. I now have an AF drink or a coffee.
I also love your point on we don’t “Have to Do” I guess learning to be more gently with ourselves. I don’t want to sound sexist, but I tend to think us females are very hard on ourselves whatever our roles are in life.
We certainly are tough on ourselves sometimes – it’s easy to forget that we do have choices 🙂
I loved watching your video it makes so much sense . I Pour a drink most nights at 5/6 o’clock and really want to break the habit . I’ll try and maybe read for half an hour before tea .
I lost my mum to Covid19 last week and my dad is now in hospital , wine has been my coping mechanism but i really hate waking up with a thick head and know I’m having too much .
I need to reflect on my day and think about myself . Thank you
I’m so sorry to hear about your mum Janet. I know this is a tough time – and I hope you’re taking good care of yourself right now.
This is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever tried to complete. I am not blaming anyone except for myself and not having the endurance nor strength to get through this. First of all I have a husband who likes to drink, (he actually calls himself and functioning alcoholic), which is the truth. He or we run a very successful business and he functions daily to get through it. He is also in a lot of pain (due to arthritis, etc), and this is the way he masks the pain. So I have another step to overcome which is not easy, that if watching my husband drink and I can’t. Not too much fun for me. I just don’t k ow how to get past this one Any help would be appreciated or advice
I’m really glad I came across your blog. I live alone and I drink on the weekends mostly. But I try to tell myself I’m not going to drink and I end up always drinking. And I regret it the next day and I then I’m hard on myself. I have always been hard of myself even before I started Drinking. I deal with anxiety and I’m use to living a life where I am always on the go. I’m trying to get sober without having to go to AA meetings or having that label. I think my next steps are to find a hobby and just not keep alcohol in the house. I need to find away to help kick the “5pm cravings.”
Hi Morgan, if you’re looking for help outside AA meetings, my online course would be a great fit for you. Here’s some more information: https://thesoberschool.com/course/