When it comes to thinking of quitting alcohol, many thoughts and emotions will appear including fear, self doubts, worry, excitement, determination and how. If you are anything like I was, I played these thoughts over and over until I ended up talking myself out of it, saying things like, ‘now is not the right time’, or ‘it’s too hard’, or, ‘I don’t know if I can do it’. Really when it comes down to it, the best thing you can do is to just give it a go, don’t look too far ahead, don’t let worry or doubt overwhelm you and give it your best shot.
To help you in your journey to quitting drinking, here are ten things you can do right now.
Listen to your inner voice
This is probably the most important thing you can do when you are thinking of quitting alcohol. You are not having these thoughts by accident so listen. Ask yourself some important questions without shame or judgement.
Why are you feeling this way? Is alcohol really serving you? What do you want and how do you want to feel? Is alcohol getting in the way of your life? Would you be happier if you took a break?
These questions and more will help you to understand your feelings, thoughts and emotions around your drinking. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s drinking behaviours this is about you, and you must start with yourself.
Get clear on your why
Having a good, solid, clear reason for taking this life changing step towards quitting drinking is key. If you know exactly why you are doing this, it makes it so much easier to keep going when things get tough or when you find yourself struggling.
Try this exercise
Write down 5 reasons for quitting drinking and then expand on each one until you really get to the core of your decision.
For example I want to quit drinking for my health.
What is going on with your health right now to prompt this decision?
What difference will it make in your life to be healthier?
Keep asking why and digging and peeling back the layers until you get to a strong, positive and empowering reason for making this life changing choice.
My journey to sobriety began long before I eventually said goodbye to alcohol, perhaps you are in the same place and that’s okay. Being curious about sobriety is a wonderful place to be. It is important to be as informed as possible so read the blogs, listen to podcasts, visit websites about sober living, join support groups, follow sober accounts such as mine on Instagram, read the ‘quit lit’ and do as much as you can to fill yourself up with as much sober inspiration, information and positivity as you can.
In my coaching this is the very first thing I do with clients as it is the most powerful first step to your new alcohol free life. If you can visualize your new alcohol free life, then you are already half way there to achieving it. The brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and real physical experiences so really let go and have fun with this.
What will you do with the extra time, money and energy? How will you feel? What will you do?
What will your life look, sound, taste, smell and feel like without alcohol in it to hold you back? Where do you want to go? What goals do you have in mind that you’d like to achieve with the extra clarity, focus and inner resources?
For more help and ideas on visualizing your sobriety read ‘Why Create a Vision For Your Sobriety’.
Having a plan in place will help you so much, especially in the beginning. We plan for everything so why not plan for this next step in your journey?
Think about how you will manage wine o’clock, what will you do when you go out, will you go out? What will you say to people?
Research where you can go for support. Write a list of inspiring mantras or affirmations. How can you change your evening routine? What can you do if you feel bored, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed? How will you reward yourself? What can you do if things get too much? What will you do instead of drinking?
It might seem like a lot of work in the beginning but remember quitting drinking is a big change, especially if you have been drinking for a long time so really do as much as you can to help yourself through all the situations that you might face, even just planning how to get through that very first day is an important step. The more you get used to new routines and ways of coping, the easier it will become.
Think about what you will gain
Often, when we think of quitting drinking, thoughts and feelings of lack, missing out and being bored or boring can pop up and make us doubts the decision before we’ve even started. Try and change your thinking and focus on what you will be gaining instead of what you will be giving up. I love this quote:
“Why give up everything for one thing, when you can give up one thing for everything”
Now I don’t really like the phrase, ‘give up drinking’ as it does suggest a lack so focus instead on all the wonderful, amazing things that will come into your life. Waking up hangover free is just the start, but what else can you enjoy with your newfound freedom from alcohol? Make a list!
Stock up on all the goodies
Gone are the days when us non-drinkers used to have to put up with water, tea, or soft drinks. There is now, thankfully so much gorgeous choice available when it comes to alcohol-free drinks. Check out your local supermarket or search online for alcohol-free drinks suppliers.
If the thought of drinking direct alternatives is triggering then what else can you drink? What do you like? Flavoured teas, herbal infusions, sparkling waters with or without flavours, nice coffee, posh teas, fruit juices? Do some research and decide what you might like to drink and go shopping!
Let’s not forget all the other treats and nice things you can buy with the money you won’t be wasting on alcohol. Cake and chocolaty treats were high up on my list at first (they still are!) What little things can you treat yourself with when you are in need of a boost or want to celebrate? Think about what you can do, as well as what you can buy yourself too.
Prepare for Cravings
People spend a lot of time worrying about cravings before they quit drinking and sometimes the mere thought of them is enough to make you question your decision. The truth is that *cravings really only last a few moments, sometimes a bit more but usually less. They only really take hold and become all consuming if you let them.
Think about when your cravings happen and why. Try to plan so that you can put things in place before a craving strikes, so you are less likely to experience them. Be prepared for them happening though, because they will so how can you support yourself through these moments? Read ’10 ways to deal with alcohol cravings’ for some ideas
*disclaimer – physical withdrawal and cravings for alcohol can be dangerous, if in doubt, please contact your doctor before removing alcohol completely.
Nobody can do this on their own, nor should they have to. There is support available, all you have to do is ask. What kind of support do you think you will need?
Think about what you can ask for from friends and family, not just in terms of cravings, socializing and feeling tempted or left out but also your day in general. What support can you get at home to help with your workload, your alone time, your morning and evening routine?
Also, where can you go if you need of specialist support and accountability? Think about signing up for some one to one sessions, joining an accountability membership or enrolling in a program such as my three month Transform Program.
Get a list of people you can rely on or turn to for support and accountability and make it easy to reach out for them if you need to, a trusted friend, a relative, a work colleague, neighbour or a coach.
If all of this seems overwhelming or too much like hard work, then the easiest way to get over the overwhelm and through the over thinking is to just start, even if you think you are not ready. It is all about small, manageable steps. Start with one thing first and then gradually add more when you feel comfortable and ready for the next step.
Just think where you could be in six months, a year if you started right now. Little and often is more manageable than trying to do all the things all at once, so start small, start slowly but just start.
Where are you right now in your journey to sobriety? If you’d like some support and accountability then come and join our small and supportive Facebook group, Blissfully sober.