Since starting this blog, and my instagram that goes alongside it, I’ve begun to receive messages from like-minded women asking me how to stop drinking & more how I stopped.
Thus far, I’ve managed to put together almost six months alcohol free. This short period of time often makes me feel unqualified to give advice, yet I tell myself that six months is more than a day, and sometimes I even manage to feel like this is the beginning of the rest of my life (big statement I know).
Deciding to stop drinking has reduced my anxiety, and the decision paralysis I used to get when trying to control my drinking – will I drink or not drink tonight? I’ll only have 2, ah but now it’s 4 – you’ll understand this if you do the same …
I often used to drink in search of inner calm, until I began to realise that actually the wine I was so reliant on to find peace was actually destroying my inner calm and not creating it. Perhaps sometimes it put off the anxious feelings but they would always reappear stronger.
So now I don’t drink. It is an empowering choice I made to stop drinking and I see it as one. It’s not a lifelong imprisonment of never having fun again, it is an empowering decision to remember every moment of my life from here on out.
It’s not all rainbows and fairies and light, but most days are great & it remains better when I stay close to myself & refocus on the below.
Here are 7 of the things I focused on to stop drinking.
1. Identified why I wanted to live alcohol free, listed all my reasons why & stayed close to them.
Why don’t you try it? Get a big list of paper, write it all down. Write some more. And then keep that list close to you.
2. Started to write everything down.
No one ever needs to read it, but scribbling down your thoughts & feelings can be so cathartic. Start with writing down your reasons why you want to stop drinking and go from there. I wrote more about writing in my blog post, Feeling stuck? Try writing to improve your wellbeing, give it a read if you’re curious
3. I reframed my thinking to view life alcohol free as an empowering decision and not an imprisonment.
Living without booze is FUN & so much better than being stuck trying not to drink too much every time you drink.
Try changing I can’t drink to I don’t drink, does it help? It might. It might not. Take what you need & keep going.
4. Filled my brain with alcohol free stuff.
We are SO surrounded by pro-alcohol messages that it’s important to get a different viewpoint in your life. Our culture is booze, booze, booze. So look for the sub-culture that’s been through what you’re going through. Home Podcast is great for this & I recommend starting with Episode 18, Making Sobriety Stick
5. Read all of the books I could get my hands on on quitting booze & sobriety.
This helped re-programme my brain & thinking around alcohol. This is a continuation of the above. Memoirs also help me to feel less alone, you don’t have to struggle with this on your own, you will find some of yourself in the stories you read.
Some of the books that have helped me are:
Jason Vale’s Kick The Drink Easily
Annie Grace’s The Naked Mind
Sarah Hepola’s BlackOut: Remembering the things I drank to forget
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women & Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnson
The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease by Marc Lewis
Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr
I have a few of these downloaded on audible too & re-listening to them on the tough days, walking to work or to an event, a little extra reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing.
6. Found Community
When I first started to try and stop drinking, it felt like the most difficult thing in the world. My social life was drinking. Celebrations meant a drink, commiserating meant a drink and parties or social gatherings most definitely meant a drink.
I felt like I was the only one in the world trying to stop drinking, and in my world I was. All my lovely friends drink – and that’s ok. But I also needed to find people who didn’t drink, a sense of community and not aloneness.
This started with finding online communites, I’ve mentioned before, in my post on Alcohol Free Resources, the brilliant movements Club Soda and One Year No Beer. Their Facebook groups provide support when I need it, Team Sober UK is another that I often pop in to for a chat or if I have any problems and to celebrate a new milestone.
Another resource, and my daily go-to, Instagram! My Instagram feed is full of inspirational people, doing their own thing (sober or not sober) and living their life’s with purpose.
There is a whole community of people out there who are doing this alcohol free thing and chatting to them online or offline, and reading their work, helps me feel a little less alone every day.
7. Did not rely on willpower alone, I created a sobriety toolkit.
These are the things that will help you be calm without wine, that will help you celebrate without booze, enjoy the sun without beer … you get the picture. You need tools & lots of them.
Baths, chocolate, calling friends, meditation, walks … more of my ideas in my blog post on how to deal with a bad mood without booze here & in Holly’s brilliant post on creating a sobriety toolkit.
A final thought, and one I have stayed close to throughout these almost first six months of not drinking, make this decision your own.
I don’t have all the answers to get you to stop drinking – and neither does anyone else … take the tools you need and let go of what doesn’t help you.
Stay close to yourself, whatever you decide to do.
All my love, L xx