After giving birth to my third child, ‘Wine O’Clock’ gradually became a part of my daily routine.
Except a daily glass of wine to unwind, soon turned to drinking almost an entire bottle of wine each day, with my whole day focussed on when I could crack open that bottle.
I ignored the thought that maybe my drinking was getting out of control. I ignored the lingering idea that I was becoming dependent.
It all changed late December last year. My niece turned 21 on 28th December 2017, and I, of course, got really drunk. I woke up on the 29th hungover and was greeted by the usual feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment, despite having promised myself to never get in that state again. There and then, I decided that it was the last time I would wake up feeling the way I did - I was going to ditch the booze, except this time I was going to stick to it.
I signed up for Dry January, and I’ve been sober ever since. Here’s what I did to break the cycIe of Wine O’Clock:
Make yourself publicly accountable
I’d previously tried to give up alcohol, but had never made it public, so I’d always given up. This time, once I had signed up for Dry January I told everyone about it, so there was no backing out.
Explore non-alcoholic drinks
I tried various non-alcoholic wines and beers and eventually discovered Becks Blue alcohol-free beer, which I found I really enjoyed the taste of. And it’s nice to have something I can drink when I’m out that isn’t a Diet Coke.
Educate yourself on the health implications of excessive drinking
Once I realised how much damage I was doing to myself by drinking so much it made me feel much more motivated about giving up.
Find people who have gone sober
I searched the hashtag #sober on social media and followed the accounts of women who had turned their back on alcohol and who weren’t regretting it. Connecting and surround myself with like-minded women who are on the same journey as me has kept me grounded and on track.
Let others inspire you
My good friend Harriet introduced me to a book her friend had written, ‘The Sober Mummy Dairies’. It opened a whole world of incredible sober women and their stories, which inspired me to keep going
Have some well-deserved ‘me time’
I set aside 10–15 minutes every day for some ‘me time’ where I can practice self-care, whether that’s taking a bath, or listening to some music
Use a ‘sober’ talisman
I made myself a little-beaded bracelet with the word ‘sober’ on it. It’s a constant reminder of the journey I’m on.
Keep yourself busy
If I find myself thinking about having a drink, I try to distract myself by getting up and doing something, whether that’s reading a book, listening to music or going for a walk
Get practical tips for ditching the booze
There are plenty of books and podcasts out there with advice on how to stay sober. One of my favourites is ‘Love Sober’, a podcast hosted by two women who share their experiences of going sober and have lots of good advice on how to do the same.
Remove negative influences
I decided to un-follow social media accounts where people were posting about Wine O’Clock to prevent me feeling triggered.
Take one day at a time
Sobriety is a journey, take each day as it comes and focus your energy on the present.
It’s not easy knowing that I’ll never drink a glass of champagne at a family function or a gin and tonic when I’m out with the girls, but this feeling of being in control, the freedom from the guilt and knowing that in the long run, I’ll be better off physically and emotionally, is well worth the trade-off.
Lauren Derrett is the author of Filter Free: Real Life Stories Of Real Women, available on Amazon and via her website at www.thisgirlisenough.co.uk