Deciding you would like to give up alcohol is one thing. Being able to achieve this is quite another. For the majority of us drinking alcohol has become part of our routine. We get home from work and open a bottle of wine or crack open a beer. For birthdays, we tend to go for drinks with friends. Friday nights we may pop to work drinks or swing via our local pub on the way home. We see alcohol as a way of making us feel relaxed and associate drinking with fun.
For some people this is the case and a glass of wine or two is not a problem. The problem is that for some of us one or two is not the reality and quick drinks in our local tend to be big nights out until the early hours. We wake up filled with regret and that feeling of shame washes over us. What did I do last night? Who was I talking too? Did I upset anyone? This is what I call the wine dreads.
I decided to give up drinking because I was sick to death of this feeling. I’d had enough of always drinking a few too many and not knowing when to stop. I no longer wanted to wake up on a Saturday not remembering how I got home. I had toyed with the idea many times but it never lasted. This time I really wanted to kick booze to the kerb and I wanted it to be for good. If you are thinking of giving up alcohol here are some things you may wish to consider to help you along the way.
Get a journal
In my first week of Sobriety I bought myself a nice new notebook, and decided to write down all the reasons I didn’t want to drink anymore. I then wrote down all of the times that I felt my drinking had gone too far. I almost filled up half the book. Doing this helped me convince myself I was making the right decision and that I absolutely needed to quit drinking alcohol.
Set a realistic challenge
Although I knew that I wanted to quit drinking for good I decided to set myself a challenge of 28 days without drinking alcohol. Setting realistic goals makes them seem a lot easier to achieve therefore you are less likely to give up. Once I had completed 28 days, I felt good and knew that I would be able to carry on.
Invest in some books
Before I quit drinking, a friend of mine had recommended the book ‘The unexpected joy of being sober’ by Catharine Grey. After reading two chapters of the book I decided to give up booze. Catherine’s book really resonated with me. I saw a lot of myself in the author and her stories seemed to ring many bells. She was very relatable and the book was honest and gritty whist remaining uplifting and fun. This book really helped me get through the early stages. After finishing, I went on an amazon-shopping spree and bought a ton of other books. All of these books were so inspiring and helped me to stop for good.
Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself. Quitting drinking means that you will now have a lot of extra time on your hands. Saturdays and Sundays can be spent enjoying yourself rather than in bed hungover and you will no longer feel obliged to attend work drinks on a Friday night. You can now fill your time well and include some very valuable ‘me’ time.
Get out that notebook again and write down all of the things you would like to do that you never seemed to have the time to do. This can be going to a museum, watching a box set, cooking a certain meal, or even just going to your local park. Get down as many activities that you can think of and start adding them to your calendar.
I had been living in London for over 6 years when I quit drinking and I suddenly realised that I had never been to Parliament hill. How mental is that? So one Saturday instead of sitting in front of the TV, I decided to head to Hampstead and go visit parliament hill. I had such a lovely day visiting all the little shops and seeing the viewpoint. Had I really been missing out on doing these things because of alcohol?
Tell people close to you.
Rather than hiding away and becoming a hermit, tell those close to you that you are giving up alcohol. This does not have to be in person. When I gave up drinking, I sent a text to all of my close friends and family explaining I was giving up alcohol and not to encourage me to have a drink.
I had a lot of congratulations text and words of wisdom. Everyone was very supportive and proud of me. Getting all of the questions out of the way made it so much easier for me to be around friends when they were drinking It meant that I did not have to feel awkward or explain myself.
Get a piggy bank and start saving
The money you save not drinking is a huge motivator. When I quit drinking I opened up a savings account so that I could monitor my savings. The trick is to make sure you are saving the same amount that you would be spending on drinks.
I went through my bank accounts for the previous two months and highlighted all of the money I had been spending on alcohol. This didn’t only include bar tabs. I included bottles of wine that I drank at home, taxis to parties, off license transactions and pub food. The amount was astonishing. I added it all together and divided by the number of weeks to work out what I was averagely spending per week. I then transferred this money every week in to the savings account. For the first time in my life I I was able to save. It was time for me to book a holiday. The best motivation ever!
Throw in some exercise
After a couple of weeks you will start to be feeling a little less lethargic. This is the time to start exercising. Find a type of exercise you really enjoy and set some time aside to do it. For me it was yoga. I joined a local studio near my flat and started to go twice a week or more when I had the time. I absolutely suck at yoga and have no flexibility. I’m hoping that if I keep it up then in a years’ time I may be able to touch my toes.
I don’t care that I am rubbish. Doing these classes is extremely challenging and mean that for two hours a week I am completely focused on my body. Yoga has taught me to switch off my crazy mind every now and then.
You now should have a fair amount of money saved up. Is there something you have wanted but always tell yourself that you can’t afford it? Now is the time to go and buy it. On my 90-day sober birthday, I treated myself to a facial and some luxury skincare. Something I wouldn’t usually buy so it was a real treat and made me feel even more content with my decision to quit.
The tips I have given you are not going to make quitting alcohol an absolute breeze. You will still have times when you wish you could just have a drink. Whenever you feel this way get out your journal, re-read your first entry, and remind yourself of why you gave up in the first place. If you ever get stuck, need some extra support or just want to vent your frustrations then feel free to pop me an email and I will try to throw some positive thoughts and inspiration your way.