BEST OF: How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running three years of Alcoholidays

June 28, 2024 00:30:07
BEST OF: How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running three years of Alcoholidays
Alcohol Tipping Point
BEST OF: How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running three years of Alcoholidays

Jun 28 2024 | 00:30:07

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

It’s been three years of running the monthly dry groups I call Alcoholidays. I'm re-airing this "best of" episode where I share what makes people successful when they take a break from alcohol. I also address what people struggle with the most when they are changing their drinking and give you tools and tips to have a kickass dry month.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Maisner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck, and you can change. Let's get started. Thank you for listening to this bonus episode of the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I wanted to do a re release because this year, July 2024, will be three years since I started running my monthly dry groups, which I call alcoholidays. And I think that this podcast, this re release, is so helpful because it's all about what I've learned and have seen from running these dry months. Like, what makes someone successful when they are taking a break from drinking. Whether that break is for a month or longer, there are just a few things that I go through that can really help you out so that you can get the full benefits of being alcohol free. And we are almost entering into July, which is also known as dry July. And it's a lot like dry January, when people all around the world decide, like, okay, I'm gonna take a break from drinking. I'm gonna see what it feels like to be alcohol free. I'm gonna cross some sober summer bucket list items off my own bucket list. And I think that it's so helpful to have something that's an easy go to for people when you're out socializing. Like, hey, I'm not drinking tonight. I'm doing dry Gillette. At any rate, I also want to invite you to come join the next alcoholiday. It is the monthly dry group I host every month. Like I said, here we are, three years of running alcoholidays. I can't believe it. I have seen so many people change their drinking, change their thinking about drinking. It's been really amazing. And I keep doing them because I think it's important to have these kind of spaces, these kind of programs where people can practice not drinking in a non judgmental place, in a place that isn't filled with shame. You know, we are all lifting each other up. We are supporting each other. And I provide you with a lot of signs and compassion based tools to help you out and honestly, for a lot of people, this is a habit. This is a habit that has taken years, maybe even decades to build. And it's going to take some time to unwind the habit. And it's not about perfection. It's about giving you tools to focus on progress, focus on practicing not drinking. And I just. I love to see people come together and support each other in these dry months. And I want you to know you don't have to be alone if you are struggling with changing your drinking. It's something that is more common than you even realize. One of the things I hear a lot is like, well, in my friend group, within my family, everybody drinks and I feel like I'm the only one. Oh, I get that. I felt like that for so long. I felt like I must be the only one in the world that feels this way. And what I've seen again and again is you're not alone. And so many people feel this way. So many people struggle with changing their drinking. It is way more common than you realize. And just to be in a group of other people that get it is so helpful. So I would love to help support you, whatever this looks like for you. I would love to invite you to the next alcoholiday. I will put links in my show notes. You can just go to alcoholtippingpoint.com alcoholiday and join us for dry July. Let's make this successful and I hope that this re release is helpful for you. Whether you join dry July or not, wherever you're at in your drinking journey, I hope that there are some lessons in here that you can use and move forward. Just know that I am rooting for you. And I'm just so proud of you for even listening to this, for even thinking about changing your drinking. That is huge. So much support and love for you. I hope you enjoy this episode. [00:05:19] Speaker B: Welcome back to the Appalled Tippy Point podcast. I am your host, Deb Maisner. I am registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. And today I just wanted to talk a little bit about what makes people successful when they take a break from alcohol. And specifically, I'm just sharing what I've learned from running the alcoholiday dry monthly groups for the last year. So each month I run a group, I call it an alcoholiday because I think that giving up alcohol is a treat and it's a real break and it's something that you are doing for yourself and something that is a benefit. So it's not about like what you're giving up, but it's about what you're giving. So let's get into what has made people successful when they do the alcohol a day or take a month off of drinking, or just any goals in general. Number one, I'd say commitment. I talk a lot about intention versus commitment. An intention is just, well, it sounds like, oh, that's fine. I intend not to drink. I think you all know what happens when you intend to do something. I mean, think about when you run into a friend and you have the best intentions, and you're like, hey, let's meet for coffee. And it never happens, but if you are committed and you meet that friend, and you say, hey, let's meet for coffee, I'm going to pull up my calendar. Let's put it on the calendar. Let's have a date and time. Let's commit to this, then you are more likely to get together with that friend. So that's why I like to make the distinction between intentions, like, well, I'd like to, and commitment, which is like, I am going to. That seems to make a big difference. That whole mindset at the beginning of a month is just be committed to it, and then never questioning the decision. That is something you hear a lot, and it's kind of like a go to. So when you do get to day 18 and you're like, why am I doing this again? Take that away from your thought process. Never question the decision, because you've already decided you're going to do it, so you are committed to it. What happens is a lot of people leave it open. Like, oh, this weekend, I'm gonna try not to drink, or I'm going to a party, and I don't want to drink, but I'm not sure. And so you haven't really made the commitment not to drink. And when you're kind of in that maybe land, I find that usually maybe ends up being a yes, and then you're in it. And so what can really happen in, in those situations is plan for it. So people who are successful are more likely to be planners, and they know what they're gonna do, when they're gonna do it, what they're gonna drink, what they're gonna say, when they're gonna get there, how they're gonna get there, how they're gonna leave. Like, it just helps to really plan out those events, plan out your days, plan out those nights, and stick to it again, that commitment and not questioning the decision, that just helps when you leave the door open, that just kind of gives you an automatic out and so those are qualities that I find most people, when they can stick to, that just sell through it a little bit easier than people that are just kind of vague about it. Like, you know, like, oh, I'm taking a month off. I may drink on the weekends or when I go to this birthday party, and then it becomes kind of a slippery slope. You know, when you have a drink on Friday, then you're like, well, I drink on Friday, so I might as well drink on Saturday. And then, oh, it's Sunday, Sunday, still the weekend. And then you end up drinking Sunday, and it just becomes a slippery slope. So if you are committed to taking a full 30 days off, really commit to it and never question the decision. Now what happens, and it happens to everybody, and it's totally normal, is you may end up drinking during your break. And that is so normal. That's why I do talk about practicing not drinking. When you do end up drinking, just own it and forgive yourself. So forgiveness is one of the top things I would list as being successful. So learning to forgive yourself and then moving on, move the fuck on from it. Like, we are focusing forward. We are onward and upward. I like to say tits up and not in the way. This is a funny phrase that we've kind of incorporated into our group lexicon, I guess, because there is a meme that says, like, so you drink again, so what? Focus on looking forward. Tits up. And so we ended up saying, like, tits up a lot. And someone had emailed me or posted or something that was like, you know, tits up means, like, getting wasted in England and whatnot. And tits up can mean different things to everybody. But in this case, it means, like, just adjust your bra straps. If you're a guy, just adjust your chest and just lean forward. Keep going on. It is okay. We don't need to dwell on the paths, you know, because so much. So much of our time is spent either, like, ruminating about the past or rehearsing for the future. And so when you can just be in the present moment and recognize that you're okay, that that happened, own it and learn from it, and then move on. Move the fuck on. Tits up. And so along those lines, I often find myself saying, data, not drama. And that is something that I heard from Elizabeth Benton. She hosts the primal potential podcast, and she says it a lot. Data, not drama. And so that is just another way to move on from your mistakes is another way of looking at things differently. So, yes, you can look at. If you drink last night, you can consider, like, yep, I had five, six ounce glasses of wine. It was a merlot. It was alcohol. It's ethanol. You know, just getting, like, really scientific about it. Like, yes, I drank. Here's how much I drank. That's it. The drama that we add to it is, oh, my God, I drank again. I'm a terrible person. I'm never going to get this right. Why am I so stuck? I just can't help it. There's something wrong with me. Like, that's the drama. And so it really helps to separate yourself from that drama. And you can do it with other things, too. Like, you're just the facts, man, right? It's like you're a scientist or maybe you're a detective, and you just. It's just the facts. And then you move on and you don't tie all the emotion to it. And that can be so helpful for forgiveness and for moving on. Another quality that has really helped people have a successful month is connection. So the people that show up on the calls, you know, people that are posting in the group, people that have told their friends, people that are just kind of in it and have support, maybe they're in Facebook groups or going to other meetings. Just someone that is reaching out and has connection and support to other people and connection, especially in this realm when you're changing your drinking, not everybody gets it. So that's why it's important to find your people, find your tribe, and find them wherever you can. So if that's in a group like alcoholiday, great. If that is going to aa, fantastic. Or smart recovery, or maybe it's just Instagram and following, like, sober accounts or joining Facebook groups, but it helps so much to find people that are going through the same thing that you are going through. There is this quote in Laura McCown's book, we are the luckiest. And she says, one stranger who understands your experience exactly will do for you what hundreds of close friends and family who don't understand cannot. It is the necessary palliative for the pain or stretching into change. It is the cool glass of water in health. So it's so helpful to find people who get it. All right, another tip for having a successful month. And what I see is having self compassion. With self compassion, there's basically three components of it. And so that is being kind to yourself, obviously. So it's being kind to yourself versus judging yourself. And that goes along with, like, the data, not drama and the forgiveness. Like, not judging yourself for being imperfect, you know, being okay, just treating yourself like you do your friends. Or your children. And that is so, so important. With self compassion. Again, that's finding the common humanity versus isolating. That's finding connection. That's finding connection in other people and not just doing it by yourself, not isolating and just feeling like this is only you. Because I can tell you, you know, I've worked with hundreds of people. I've interviewed so many people on this podcast and part of other groups. Like, trust me, you are not alone in wanting to change your drinking. You are absolutely part of something bigger, and there are other people that can be there for you and just really put yourself out there. I know that that's hard. I know it's hard to be vulnerable. I know that we want to hide our faults. We want to hide ourselves. And it's time. It's time to just really get out there and ask for help and connect. And then another component of self compassion is mindfulness. And it's taking a balanced approach to, like, your feelings, basically, and being mindful and living in the moment, living in the present moment. So I was talking earlier about how we are either ruminating about the past or rehearsing for the future. And that's where it's so powerful to live in the present moment, in the moment of now. Because right now, you are okay. Like, I know that you're listening to this right now. I can tell you, like, you are okay in this moment and you're not drinking in this moment, right? Maybe you are. I shouldn't assume that, you know, you. You are okay. You are listening to this. You are okay. You are safe, and you are worthy. And so the present moment is a moment to come back to again and again and to reconnect with yourself as well. So those, I find, are just the kind of general qualities that help you have successful month and help you make a successful change in your life. So, again, that was like commitment. That was never questioning the decision. That was planning. I was having forgiveness, focusing on data, not drama, focusing on connection, and then having self compassion. I just want to touch on what I see most people struggle with. So I would say, number one, I was trying to figure out, like, how to word it, but I would say I would just call it overwhelm. Over what? Too much. You do it too much. So overwhelm. That is a big umbrella category. And underneath, it could fall. Work. It could fall. Any stressful event could be all the shit you have going on in your life. That is overwhelm. And we have been dealing with overwhelm by pushing the easy button of drinking. And so. And usually it's the first thing to go, right, because it's the easiest, because you get to the end of your day and you had a real shitty day, and your brain has learned, if you take a drink, you will feel better, because you will. You will in that moment, not in the long term, but in the short term. And our body values short term over long term. It's just. It's just hard. It's that whole delay gratification thing, and it's something that we all struggle with, and we do our own things to manage it. Drinking just happens to be one of them that works really well. So how can you manage overwhelm well, how can you simplify your life? What can you do to make your life easier? And when you're working on drinking, what could you do to make that easier? Let that be your only goal. I always tell people, like, don't, like, just practice not drinking for this month. Like, now's not the time to diet. It's not the time to, like, trade for a marathon or clean out your house. I mean, maybe you could be doing those things along with it, but your number one thing is practicing not drinking. All the other stuff can go by the white side. So if you need to rest, rest. Don't feel like you have to do everything to be your quote, unquote, really healthy new person. All you're doing is removing alcohol now, going back to, like, work and stress and life and how to simplify that. Well, that could be a whole podcast episode in itself, but I will tell you, and it's almost like you have to go through it to believe it is. Once you remove alcohol from your life, it makes everything easier. So that overwhelm won't be as overwhelming. Like, your work will be easier, your relationships will be easier, your kids will be easier, because you can deal with it. You have more energy. Your head is clear. I mean, it's like you took, like, a smart pill, basically, and you just get better at life. But it's that transition period. It's those days in between where it's like, but I really. But today sucks. I need a drink. And so it's having other tools. So go back and just get as many sober tools as you can. Right? So start with whatever you can to distract yourself. So that being taking a walk, doing mindfulness, eating. You all know I love to eat. Eating my number one tip. And a lot of the times, it's just low blood sugar that is making you want to drink. So when you feel that way at the end of the day, eat something. Eat donuts. I don't care what you eat. Remember, you're not dieting. Put something in that body. Do jumping jacks. Just do anything. Plot the stops. One of our group members likes to say, when you have a craving, just do something weird for 15 minutes. And there we were talking, I think, about tapping, doing one of the tapping techniques to help with anxiety. You can YouTube it. It's a thing. But the basic gist of that is, oh, well, like, doing something that is a novelty, that's different, that's taking you out of your mind and into your body. Just doing something, that's breaking the pattern that you're in. So if you're in the kitchen and you crave a drink, go into another room, change your clothes, change your setting, change your environment, that will help you snap out of it. Basically put cold water on your face. You know, those kinds of things help you snap out of it in the moment. So, yes, overwhelm gets to be a huge struggle, and then people tend to just kind of drop off, and then you end up drinking, and then you're just kind of say, screw it, fuck it for the rest of the month. That's pretty common. So going back to being successful, that's when you go back to just like, okay, I drank last night, but now I'm going to focus on the turnaround. How fast can I turn this ship around? Because you can't. You could turn it around if you drank on day 18. That doesn't mean you're screwed for the rest of the month. You can get right back on that ship, and you can keep on going. So the other, I would say overwhelm number one for struggling during a dry month or a break or changing your drinking or anything. And then number two, I would say. I would put a category called society. So that's just like people. That's social events, that's having vacations, having trips planned. It's kind of more of the fun stuff. And that is one that people struggle with a lot because we want to fit in and we want to be part of the group. You know, we're tribal animals. We want to be part of the tribe. It's hard to be different. It's really, really hard. And so we tend to just kind of give in easier and go along with the group. And if everybody else is drinking, we're going to drink. We don't want to stand out, and that becomes difficult. Right. And so more and more, I just find that when you can find your true, authentic self, your true, you know, if you're being alcohol free, whether it's for your month or the rest of your life. Owning that. Owning that shit. Own it. That's why I call myself an alcohol free badass, because I own it. And it's not stigmatized for me. Like, I am taking the stigma away from it, and I am just. I'm proud of it. Own it and be proud of it. You are working on yourself, and you are doing something that is good for you, and you know it. Otherwise you wouldn't be doing it in the first place. Right? And the other thing is, when do we get to not care what other people think about us, right? There's this meme on social media. It's like I'm entering into the zero fucks given era. And I really like that because it's like, oh, yeah, why am I still acting like I'm in junior high? Why do I care what my friends think, what my family thinks, what Joe blow at the party thinks? Like, I don't care. Like, I'm gonna do me. I am gonna do me. And that's okay. Now, this takes practice, right? And it's easier said than done, but it's so, so important. There, there's a quote, an old quote by Lao Zhao. Oh, I'm probably totally saying that wrong, but that is dated 571 BC. But what it says is, care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. [00:25:08] Speaker A: And just think about that. [00:25:10] Speaker B: You will be free. You will be alcohol free, and you will be free of what other people think. That is a good feeling. Now, I'm not saying, like, of course you do have friends and family. You do care what they think about you and their opinions about you. And I think that gets tangled up, actually, into this whole stigma of drinking and labeling. You know, people don't want to be considered an alcoholic. Well, you don't have to be. You do not have to call yourself an alcoholic. You don't have to have a problem with alcohol to give up drinking. You can just give up drinking. A lot of people are doing it just because it's good for your health. So I really like to fight that stigma. And I think that is where a lot of the concern comes from. When we worry about what other people think and we worry that they're going to be already putting us in this box. And, I mean, that's on them. And the more and more people that give up alcohol just because they can and they want to live a better life, the more and more, that stigma is going to go away, which is fantastic. And you know, just remembering like this is your one life. There are no do overs, you know, there are regrets that people have in their lives, and one of them is they regretted not choosing to be happy and not being authentic to their true self. And so here's the thing. We're all going to end up the same, right? Death is inevitable. You know, at one point we are going to all pass away, everyone on this earth. And that's okay. It's uncomfortable, but it's the fact. And so do what is best for you right now, because you only get one life and it makes it easier to stop caring so much about what other people think and just be true to yourself. Alright? So those are the main lessons that I have learned from you all from doing these live alcoholidays every month for a year. I just want to thank those that have participated. I have met some of the best people, some people that I know are going to be lifelong friends, people that get it. And it's just been amazing. And I am so honored to lead these groups and help people change their drinking. And if you are interested, just go ahead. Go on my website, alcoholtippingpoint.com, find the alcohol a day. You can do one and see what it's like. And if you've been wondering, like, am I done with drinking? Am I not? I just encourage you to take a 30 day break to see how it feels to really remove alcohol, to think differently about it and give yourself that opportunity. That treat honestly, it's a treat away from drinking and you will feel so much better. So I am glad that you are listening to this podcast. I am so grateful for you all. I love doing this work and I love you all. I hope that you find this helpful and that you make changes in your life. No matter what it is or how you do it. There's no right or wrong way to change your drink key. There are many, many ways, and that is awesome. And so are you. Have a great day and I will talk to you next week. [00:28:52] Speaker A: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people. I want you to know I'm always here for you. So please reach out and talk to me on instagram at alcoholtippingpoint and check out my website, alcoholtippingpoint.com for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey. I want to encourage you to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is a day you can learn from. I hope you can use these tips we talked about for the rest of your week. And until then, talk to you next time.

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