The Tools You Need to Go Alcohol-Free
By Karolina Rzadkowolska
Hangovers are so 2017, and sober curiosity is gaining momentum as more and more people try the dry life. Who wouldn’t love it? Deep restful sleep, a healthier outlook, and the space and time to do activities that actually grow your soul, instead of water it down.
Going sober or taking a break is so popular, research repeats that over 52 percent of Americans are trying to drink less. Fifty-two percent! That means that the majority of people are trying to fix their broken relationships with alcohol, and find the version of themselves that doesn’t wake up hungover with regrets.
But here’s the kicker. It’s not necessarily easy. Trying to change an ingrained habit in a world that revolves around booze is pretty hard. But it’s also courageous, and the growth that you put yourself through will be. so. worth. it.
Plus it can be so much easier when you set yourself up with the tools you need succeed. Consider these as you begin the journey that will change your world:
I don’t know too many people who declared one day that they would never drink again and stuck to it (and for those of you that have, congratulations on keeping that promise!). It can be much easier to set yourself up for smaller goals, like a 90-day challenge, and hey, even 30 days is a great place to start. When you commit to a set number of days, keeping your run really drives your motivation. And it’s incredible fulfilling to see your challenge laid out in front of you where you can check off all your progress.
Try the Dry January app, where you get to mark down cute little teacups for each day you don’t drink. It’s super helpful to track your days in more than one place, so go old school and get a planner, a journal and a calendar, and mark that you didn’t drink that day IN THE MORNING, before you’ve had any temptation. It will be so much less appealing to drink and then have to cross off your progress.
So many of us associate drinks as a way to celebrate or relax or just damn treat ourselves. Don’t make the mistake of depriving yourself and remove your habitual treat without replacing it with something less toxic. There are hundreds of nonalcoholic and alternative drinks out there, from kombuchas to fancy-ass sparkling waters and juices (thinking of you, Spindrift and Sanpellegrino), to nonalcoholic craft beers and thousands of mocktail concoctions you can make. If you’re used to having a 5 o’clock drink as you cook dinner, replace. If you go to happy hours with your friends, replace (please don’t order a tap water). Don’t make this harder than it has to be, make it fun!
books and podcasts
Read books and listen to podcasts that will help you learn about your comfort zone behavior and show you the utter delight that comes from taking a risk and leaving your safe space. Ask yourself how well this drinking habit serves you, and learn way more about your reactions, tendencies and why humans like to mute their inner desires by drinking.
Get yourself some books that will shift your entire mindset about drinking, so it's no longer something you really want to do anymore; my recommendations include This Naked Mind, Alcohol Explained, and the Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. And start listening to podcasts too, like Take a Break, One Year No Beer, and Euphoric the Podcast. (That one’s mine y’all—go listen!)
I know how easy it is to feel alone, especially when drinking gives you a ton of shame and unease but you also don’t feel like you have a serious drinking problem. It’s like where do I fit in and how could I possibly talk about this with anyone? But remember that statistic I shared with you earlier? That 52 percent of Americans are trying to drink less? Trust me, it’s not because they are saints, it’s because they don’t like the role of alcohol in their lives, hate the effects, and want to feel good without a beverage that has so much baggage. Being sober curious is the ability to be introspective and there are some trailblazing people on the same path as you. Find them!
Join private Facebook groups, (like Club Soda UK and Euphoric Alcohol-Free) and be a part of the movement that lifts others up. Also, search sober or alcohol-free in Instagram and you will find a huge community. Say hello!
A journal is the queen of all tools because your own reflection will transform your life. Not drinking alcohol isn’t just a matter of stopping a habit. It’s transformative personal growth and your mind will give you insights and dream up dreams that you never imagined. Write it all down! Write about your experiences, and your paradigm shifts (oh yea, sober sleep is amazing), and your what if dreams. Writing solidifies your intentions and agency in a way that merely thinking about it won’t do. Try listing five things you are grateful for each day, or paint out the picture of what you wish your life would be like in a year.
You have these dreams for a reason. Their your roadmap to a happy and fulfilling life. You were meant to go for them, otherwise you wouldn’t have them. Use your journal to get clarity, work through tough issues, and pep yourself up to go for the next big thing.
A Project that Let’s You be creative
Drinking takes up a lot of time, and mental head space. A lot of people first complain about feeling bored, which is valid, but all it takes is some creativity on your part to find something more fulfilling. Things like drinking and watching TV are easy and often what we resort to, but they do not provide any lasting contentment. Boredom is actually a great sign that you need more internal stimulation, like using your imagination (writing maybe?), learning something new (always wanted to learn to code?), or trying something perplexing (like refurbishing furniture?). You are so lucky, because you have all this headspace and time to find a new passion that will make this boredom phase last a minute. Maybe go after those dreams you journaled about.
Over time, you will become a Jedi at handling stress, uncomfortable feelings, and unpleasant emotions. You will learn to assess your needs and take care of yourself in ways that overall leave you with less stress and worry in your life to begin with. But at first, removing alcohol can open the floodgates. (Yes, this is what it feels like to be fully alive). And you’re going to need a really good healthy #selfcare tool you can use to rest, relax, self-soothe, and re-energize. My favorites include a comforting cup of tea, taking a bath with an irresistible read (see book recommendations above), snuggling my dog, or going on a run with an uplifting podcast.
It’s really really common to have false starts and slips ups. That’s totally okay and part of the journey. But you can really do yourself a favor and have some accountability to help you. Tell a friend about what you’re doing, or your partner, or anyone who has your best interests at heart and wants to cheer you on. If you need a level of support and empowerment you aren’t currently getting in your life, consider working with a coach or joining a program. I absolutely love self-development and while investing in myself doesn’t always feel natural, I know that I deserve to learn and grow and express my fullest potential and I regularly work with a coach and do online programs. Euphoric Alcohol-Free offers both 1-on-1 coaching and a quit drinking course, if you want to take your journey to the next level.
Doing ALL of these things really helped me master an area in my life that was pretty messy before. And that sense of mastery is a pretty incredible feeling. I hope these tips help you in a creating a life that’s so much bigger than a beverage!