How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running a year of Alcoholidays

Episode 72 July 27, 2022 00:24:57
How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running a year of Alcoholidays
Alcohol Tipping Point
How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running a year of Alcoholidays

Jul 27 2022 | 00:24:57


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

It’s been one year of running the monthly dry groups I call Alcoholidays. Today I want to talk about what makes people successful when they take a break from alcohol. I also want to touch on what people struggle with the most when they are changing their drinking. 

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Episode Transcript

pod 72 How to Successfully Take a Break from Drinking: Lessons learned from running a year of Alcoholidays Welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host, Deb Masner, I am a registered nurse health coach and alcohol free bad ass. 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 alcohol a day, dry monthly groups for the last year. So each month I run a group, I call it an alcoholic day. 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 getting. 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. And 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 a 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 like to and commitment, which is like, I am going to, and so that seems to make a big difference. Difference that. That whole mindset. At the beginning of a month is just being committed to it. And then never questioning the decision. That is something you hear a lot and it's kind of like, Like a go-to. So. So when you do get today 18, and you're like, why am I doing this again? Take that away from your thought process, never questioned the decision because you've already decided you're going to do it. So you were committed. It'd to it. What happens is a lot of people leave it open, like, oh, this weekend I am going to try not to drink or I'm going to a party and I, I don't want to drink, but I'm not sure. Sure. And so you haven't. It really made the commitment. Not to drink. And when you're kind of in that maybe LAN 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. More likely to be planners and they know. What they're going to do, whether. They're going to do it. What they're going to drink, what they're going to say when they're going to get there, how they're going to get there, how they're going to leave. Like. It's 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. 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 drank 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's just becomes a slippery slope. So if. If you are committed to taking. A full 30 days off. Really commit to it and never questioned 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. 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. It's up and not in the way. This is a funny phrase that we've kinda. Incorporated into our group lexicon, I guess, because there is a meme that says like, so he drank again. So what focus on. 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 tuts up can mean different things to everybody. But in this case it means like, just adjust your bras straps. If you're a guy, just adjust your chest and just lean forward. Keep going on. It is okay we we don't need to dwell on the past 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 Did that that happened own it. And learn from it and then move on what was 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 has 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 drank last night you can consider like yup. i had five six ounce glasses of wine It was a marillo 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 It may be 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 room 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 alcoholics day 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 McCowen'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. Does the necessary palliative for the pain or stretching into change? It is the cool glass of water in hell. So it is, 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. Correct. You know? Being okay. Just treating yourself like you do. Do your friends or. Your children. And that is so. So, so important. With self-compassion again, that's finding the common humanity versus isolating. That's finding connection, that's finding connection and other people. People and not. Just doing it by yourself. Self 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. And just really. 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. Selves and. It's 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 we're 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. And 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're 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. Those eyes. Find are just the kind of general qualities that help you have a 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 trauma, 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're doing too much. So overwhelm that is a big umbrella category. And underneath it could fall, fall work. And it could fall any stressful event. It can be all the shit you have going on in your life. That is overwhelmed. 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 your drink, you will feel better because you will, you will, in that moment. Not in the longterm, but in the short term, And our body value short-term over. Long-term, it's just, it's just hard. It's that whole delayed gratification thing. And it's something that we all struggle with and we do our own things to manage it. Tricky 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 can 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. Diet. It's. It's not the time to like train 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 wayside. So if you need to rest, rest, don't feel like you have to do everything to be. You're quote, unquote, really healthy new person. All you're doing is removing alcohol. And 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, it it's almost like you have to go through it. To believe it is once you read and move 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, your head is clear. I mean, it's like you take, you took like a smart pole basically, and you just get better at life. But it's, it's that transition period. It's those days in between where it's like but I really, I put 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 be. Taking a walk, doing mindfulness, eating, you know, I love to eat eating is my number one tip. And a lot of the times it's just low blood sugar that is making me 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. Pull out 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. You 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, like doing something that is a novelty, that's a 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. At 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 pocket for the rest of the month. That's pretty common. So. Going back to being successful. That's when you go. Go back to just like, okay. I drank last night. But now I'm going to focus on the turnaround and how fast can I turn this ship around? Because you can't, you can 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 ongoing. 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 flat, it's kinda 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 bad-ass 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 liked that because it's like, oh yeah. Why, 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. Things like I don't care. Like I. I'm going to do me. I am going to 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 lousy. Oh, I'm probably totally saying that wrong, but that is Dated 5 71. BC, but what it says is care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. And just think about that. You You will be free. You will. We'll be alcohol free. And you will be free of what other people think. And that is a good feeling. No, I'm not saying like I'm of course you do have a friends and family. You do care what. There think about you. And their opinions about you. And I, 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. I 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 of 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 gonna 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. All right so those are the main lessons that i have learned from you all From doing these live alcoholic days 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 heck on my website i'll call Find the alcohol a day you can do what And see what it's like and if you've been wondering like hmm To 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 tree 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 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 drinking 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

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