So you’ve hopefully read How I Quit Drinking and seen my journey to sobriety 14 months ago. In this post I’m going to give you my tips for How to quit drinking. I drank for 22 years. For 18 of them I drank too much and for 12 of them I battled to quit. I hope they help you, as they definitely worked for me.
1) Get a champion
Everyone needs to have someone they can turn to when things get rough. For you this may be your mother, sister, partner or best friend. Pick someone you feel happy being completely open with, someone who doesn’t put you down or tell you your ideas are wrong. Someone who has a good outlook on life and who you respect. There are always people out there willing to pull you down, so choose wisely. I am so lucky for the people in my life, but I know there are people, often for legitimate reasons (such as worry), that I would not choose for this role. For me it was my husband. My Love always supported me, never ridiculed any of my ideas, played along with my crazy schemes and listened to my drunken rants. I could never have done any of this without him. You need to find this person and open up to them. Tell them your intentions, your reasons, your goal and the support you need to reach it.
2) Announce your intention proudly
For me this was through Facebook and Dry January. There are so many support groups online, especially through Facebook and Instagram. These groups, on both platforms, are for people to share ideas, talk, support each other and even meet up. There also likely to be local support groups if you need a more face to face environment. As sobriety increases in popularity (yay!), there are so many more opportunities to give up drinking. Not just Dry January, but also Sober Spring, Dry July, Go Sober for October, or Dryathalon. This way you’ll have a plan to follow and have lots of support from people doing the same thing and probably feeling the same way as you!
3) Practice self-care
This part is crucial and I cannot do it justice in this blog post. Instead I have created a free course called ‘7 days to feel better about yourself’. Just sign up in the box below and I will send you an email every day for 7 days with advice and practical elements to complete that will have you knowing and loving yourself so much more in as little as a week.
For the purposes of this post, let me just reiterate how important this part is in overcoming any problem. If you constantly criticise a child, tell them they are too this or too that, berate them endlessly when they make a mistake, tell them will never amount to anything – would they succeed? Would they grow up to be well rounded, loving, caring and successful people with few problems? Probably not. Of course, it is unlikely that you would ever do this to a child – so why do it to yourself? If you encouraged, supported, nurtured and loved that child, imagine what it could achieve! Enough with the child analogy, but I hope it makes my point.
Make sure in whatever journey you are on, that you make time for yourself. If you love reading, find a space to read, if you love music put it on., if you love cooking, buy those special ingredients and make something you really want to make. Have that bath, light those candles, take that walk, go to that spa. Why not? Where in the rule book does it say we cannot do what makes us happy? You need to balance in your day what depletes you with what nurtures you. When I attended a mindfulness course to help with post-natal depression after The Baby, they talked about making lists of what depleted and what nurtured us. Obviously in early motherhood with 2 other children there isn’t much to nurture us. I was already in a bad place so when they suggested that we tried to turn the things that deplete us into the things that nourish us, by doing them to the best of our ability, I was not really loving it. I believe the point that I burst into tears and started shouting was the point that they said ‘master the ironing’. MASTER THE IRONING?!! SOD THAT! I have not been through everything I have been through and achieved everything I have achieved to be told that my value and joy in life is the ironing. Well, no. I do actually understand the point and maybe my reaction would not have been so strong if they had said cooking instead of ironing! The point is that if we do the best we can do with what we have at the time, then, when we have more capacity, what we will achieve will be even greater. So, if you are in a crap place, choose one thing that you love, one thing that will nourish and nurture you. Start doing that thing whenever you can. If it’s something you cannot exactly do right now, is there anything you can you do now that will help you do it better when you can?
One final point on self-love. If there is a situation you do not want to be in, do not be in it. So many times we force ourselves to do things because we should, without actually examining whether we really want to. If you are trying to stop drinking, why go to a party or a pub that you don’t want to go to. If you don’t want to be there, you’re already in a weak position within yourself, so slipping up is far more likely. You can worry about pubs and parties later down the line when you are feeling stronger. If anyone is so unhappy with you for this that they stop speaking to you, then maybe that isn’t the type of unsupportive person that you need around.
However, if, after all of this, things do go wrong – don’t beat yourself up. Accept that it is what it is. There is nothing you can do to change the past, but there is plenty you can do, with a little self-love, to change the future.
Sign up below for my free ‘7 days to feel better about yourself’ course,
4) Practice bibliotherapy
I have found time and again that when I put my intention out there, the universe gives me an answer. When I’m struggling, this is most often in the form of a book. But for you and many others it could be a podcast, a Ted Talk or an audio book. I find the act of sitting down to read is an act of complete self-love. You are giving yourself the permission to take time for yourself and your own development.
Bibliotherapy is not a recent phenomenon. Using my most trusted source of Wikipedia, it says that the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses II (in the 1200s BC) had a phrase above his library saying “the house of healing for the soul”. Also that in 1272, the Koran prescribed reading as a medical treatment. Apologies if anyone can tell me this is wrong but I love the idea of it!
Neuropsychologists have said that reading reduces stress levels by 68% (1). Looking back on my experience with bibliotherapy, I can totally understand this. When you read you float into another world. This is not a world of the stresses and worries you have in your life. The complete distraction it provides allows you to relax, and therefore any tension and stress to temporarily slip away. Any reduction in stress has been shown to improve your mood and boost your immune system, as prolonged stress hormones have a negative effect on the body.
The problem we often face is that we become bogged down in the complexities of our lives and our problems become so big that they overtake the whole picture. Reading, and the distraction and relaxation provided, gives us that moment outside ourselves reflect. Is it possible that in this time we can see that our insurmountable problems aren’t quite so insurmountable? Black and white thinking is often seen to be one of the factors in depression, but if by reading you can reflect, see another person’s story or perspective, then we are taking in a little of the grey.
The content of the books, particularly self-help books, are often positive stories about people who have overcome their battles. These stories, read at a time when our mind is relaxed and open, can give us a positive boost to say ‘these people have done it, why not me?’. In the midst of our problems we can feel very alone. But reading a story that is similar to yours, or very often one that is worse than yours, helps us to feel that we are not alone, someone out there understands what we are going through. There is a connection. Connection is one of the keys to happiness.
I know that for me, each time a book has found its way to me at the right time, wonderful things have happened.
My recommendations are:
Other people’s recommendations
(Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)
5) Find your exercise
I have written about gentle movement in my ‘7 days to feel better about yourself’ course. I know people groan at the idea of exercise, but it is so important. It is shown to boost mood and self-esteem, reduce stress and depression, improve sleep and energy as well as reducing the risk of a whole host of physical ailments such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s (2).
Exercise does not have to be awful. We are not talking about half an hour on the treadmill every day – ugh, what could be worse! If you look and experiment there will absolutely be an exercise for you. Do you like dancing? There are so many people I know that have taken up Ceroc (modern jive dancing). It is accessible at all levels and abilities, is seriously good cardio and is very social (no partner required). I do not get paid to advertise Ceroc but it is where I met My Love and it holds a special place for me. Do you like hiking, horse riding, ice skating, yoga, martial arts, outdoor swimming, surfing, sailing or cycling? Do you want something more social? Look for a netball team, football team or hockey team. If you have children, is there something you can do with them or at the same time as their classes? If you can’t get out, You Tube is packed with exercise classes and ideas. If you hate cardio, Tabata is amazing. Four minutes of circuits, 40 seconds hard core exercise with 20 seconds rest x 4. Who can’t do 40 seconds cardio? The best thing is, your fitness and ability will improve so quickly – 2 weeks for me, and after that it is far less daunting. Exercise is proven to be pretty addictive so give it the two week and get those happy hormones flowing! They will be your best friend when things get hard.
6) Find your tribe
In my previous post I talked in detail about how important it is to find those people on the same journey as you, as they will be your rock and your support when things get tough. You need to know you are not alone. You need to have people you can talk to, who can relate and understand your story. Be around sober people. Immerse yourself in groups, blogs and relevant social media. Feeling a connection, like I said before is one of the cornerstones of happiness. If you are truly happy, how likely is it that you will want to hide behind alcohol? Read my post How I quit drinking to find out more about finding your tribe.
Visualisation is an important tool in your problem solving box. If you can visualise where you want to be it is easier to maintain your course. Use meditation to help you create a peaceful place to visualise your goal. This is looked at further in my 7 days to feel better about yourself’ course. Make a board with images of what you are trying to achieve. Keep it somewhere visible as a constant reminder. Make some jewellery or a T-shirt or a tattoo, if you like them. Make it obvious so that you are always aware of what you are trying to achieve. It’s almost a form of brain training. If you say it enough and think it enough and believe it enough, it will eventually be.
8) Other things that helped me on my journey
A gratitude diary. I will write about gratitude in a later post, but for this I will explain how I did it. Every time I felt happy, or saw something beautiful or got a warm fuzzy feeling, I would make a note on my phone of what had caused it. This was a lovely reminder of that fuzzy feeling that could be triggered again with the memory, but also it was a reminder when I was feeling low of what I had to be grateful for. Having just one thing to be grateful for in a day is enough. Being grateful expands exponentially until you have more than you ever imagined possible to be grateful for.
Find your drink. For some this is non alcoholic alternative, helpful if you don’t want to stand out or you are in early sobriety. For me it was Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, Caffeine free Diet Coke and Coffee. Rose lemonade was my treat drink, I would have it in a champagne glass to celebrate, although thankfully I’ve lost the need to do this now as I am a very happy non-drinker. Diet coke is my go to when I’m feeling stressed. Coffee is my relaxing me time treat, especially if I buy myself a cup out. Savour it, nurture it, enjoy it. Obviously I try not to have more than one coffee or diet coke a day as it isn’t the healthiest, but hey, better than booze! Also, I must mention tea. There are so many weird and wonderful teas out there for very occasion! Bird and Blend and Whittards are particularly good and you can taste before you buy or return it if you’re not keen.
Find a drink you love for the times that you need it
So that’s all for today. I hope it helps. Remember – it’s OK to fall down but that doesn’t make it OK to give up. Each time you fall you are a bit closer, a bit stronger and have learnt a bit more about reaching you goal. Don’ forget to sign up for 7 days to feel better about yourself’ and future courses
Happy not drinking everyone!