Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series. Today I’m chatting to Stephanie Chivers; habit, addiction specialist with 11 years experience of teaching people how to change their lives.
In her own words: I am passionate about teaching people how to live happy healthy lives in whatever shape or form that maybe. Its cheesy but true. I have been doing this work now for 11 years and I still get such a buzz out of it, when someone takes a break from their drinking or drug use and suddenly can see the potential. Its amazing. I live in Devon with my teenager and his crazy dog. I love music and dancing, so you can quite often find me on a dance floor somewhere. Oh and I love beaches.
I’m super excited to be teaching yoga at Stephanie’s next ladies only retreat in April. It’s in the UK (Ross on Wye) and £400pp. There are a few spaces left if you fancy it, find out more here.
Read on for Stephanie Chivers’ not drinking diary …
Name: Stephanie Chivers
Location: Exeter, Devon, UK
1.Tell me a little bit of your drinking story …
I started drinking as a teenager like most people, then because of the times we lived in that quickly moved to party drugs. I grew up with the free party music scene and festivals.
Alcohol didn’t really become an issue for me until my 30’s. I was a mixture between a go out party girl binge drinker, to stay at home and drink with friends, you know the wine while you cook dinner. At that time I knew nothing about alcohol and how harmful it was.
I was very well informed about the facts relating to drugs but not alcohol. Unfortunately because life became difficult, divorce, difficult relationships, money, work, single mum and everything that goes with it, I began to drink too much. Its not an excuse its just what happened. Life got tough and because I was drinking I didn’t notice.
2. What led you to think differently about drinking?
I hit a big rock bottom, which I am so grateful for. I realised that I was responsible for me, my life. There was power in that, choice. I vowed to myself to get a grip and sort my life out, because quite frankly at that time it was a mess and rapidly getting seriously out of control.
A huge part of that and the starting point for me was to stop drinking and taking drugs. Which I did. I never thought it was forever, I still don’t. But the longer time went on, the better I felt, the more in charge of my life I felt, the clarity of thought was and still is amazing. So I just kept going. I also went on to learn about alcohol and did quite a lot of training.
Once you really understand it, I don’t really see how you can like yourself and actively choose to drink regularly or in large amounts.
3. How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
Great its just not an issue. Now that doesn’t mean I am perfect I am not at all.
However 11 years later and I totally get it. I know what my trigger points are, I have rules that work for me. Now I choose to not drink, because well quite frankly its bad for our health.
4. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
For me once I learnt about alcohol, learnt about myself and kept learning, it wasn’t an issue. So I don’t find that part of it a challenge. I was 100% committed and just kept moving forward no matter how hard it was.
5.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
So many, there isn’t enough space here. Basically I went on a massive journey, I am still on it. Learning about myself and others. I have learnt that I don’t need alcohol or drugs to have a good time. To feel good, to feel a certain way. I can feel these things naturally and the natural high is way better than anything any drug can give you.
6. What benefits of cutting down on alcohol or stopping drinking have you experienced?
Huge benefits. Completely changed my life. Clarity of thought, being able to make better decisions, the ability to be in control of my life.
7. Are there any resources that have helped you to cut down or stop drinking?
For me its was learning about alcohol, what it is, what it does, that still really works for me. In the last 11 years I have attended many training courses and worked with some great researchers and learnt so much about alcohol, the facts that is. Repeating this information in my work works well for me. Also NLP (Neuro Linguistic programming) really helped me, coaching, training and learning about me.
8. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I wake up about 6.30am mostly, I get up and drink my pint of warm water with lemon a must. Then I have a cup of tea which is one of my favourite things. Next I spend some time catching up with emails, Facebook, Twitter and the Women Who Don’t Drink Group. Then I take the crazy dog for a walk.
9. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
I don’t know if these are rituals, but I always make time to walk the dog, its so good for me and her. I make time for my friends because I have the best friends in the whole world. I make time for music and dancing because that’s what its all about.
10. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Have a lay in if I can, I am not very good at it. Don’t rush is the big one for me, to have time to relax and do nice things. Longer walks with the dog, visit friends, eat lovely food with them ,watch a film, go to the gym, dance somewhere, go to a beach
11. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
Balance is one of the ones that comes and bites me on the bum from time to time. I can get so focussed which I love, but then I can disappear for ages, quite happily down a rabbit hole. So my task at the mo is putting gym classes in 3 or 4 x a week, because well, I love it, it feels good and its good for me.
12. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
I think its fair to say I am passionate (sorry don’t like the word obsessed) about my work at the mo. I love it. I get such a buzz out of it, when people tell me how much better their life is since they have taken a break or reduced their drinking it feels amazing.
13.Any go-to people we should follow for inspiration? (Health, Fitness, Life, Travel you name it!)
I am a bit of a difficult one for this, I love my experts. For nutrition for me its all about Gwen Warren from Biting Fit. She really knows her stuff about food. Like alcohol there is so much mis information out there about food, so for me it really helps having access to her. I love listening to Jaimie Smart for coaching inspiration, he is just fab.
I am also really interested in all the new different grown up alcohol free drinks popping up. I think that’s great, more of this please. I personally get fed up with all the sugary soft drinks. So to have new things to try out is great particularly loving Real Kombucha at the mo.
14. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Ok here is the thing, I encourage everyone to take a break from alcohol at some point in your life. Anyone, whether it is an issue for you or not. Start small, say 14 days, then maybe go to 30 days, see how you feel. I would love it if you could get your head around 3 months at some point. Its then doing things, trying different things, getting out there, meeting people, thinking differently. Treat it like an experiment, have fun with it. There is also lots of help out there, books, blogs, on line forums, groups, online programmes, coaching. Try it, try it all, there will be something in all of it you can use. What you will do is build your own personal little box of tricks that can help you be happier and healthier.
And don’t be scared to ask for help, its ok, when your washing machine goes wrong you call the washing machine guy, so when life isn’t working speak to an expert. What have you got to lose?