What mistakes do women make when they are trying to quit drinking and go alcohol -free?
To answer that question – I want to ask if any of the statements below describes where you are now…
- The thought of going without alcohol feels like a punishment.
- You worry that life without alcohol will be a time of deprivation and isolation.
- Quitting drinking isn’t something that you actually want to do. It’s a last resort to stop feeling sick and tired.
You wonder, “Am I bad enough to have to stop drinking?”
- You’re afraid to try to stop drinking – because you’ve tried so many times and given up after 4 days, 14 days or 3 weeks. You don’t want to try and fail (again).
If any of these thoughts sound familiar – this episode is for you.
There’s a way to approach not drinking as a positive, empowering step you’re taking for yourself.
And I’m going to show you how.
In this episode you’ll learn:
You don’t have to have a serious problem to want to quit drinking
- How to quit drinking one day at a time
- How and why you need to treat yourself well and prioritize self care
- Why you shouldn’t combine ‘no alcohol’ and the newest ‘health kick’
- There will never be a ‘perfect’ time to start
- And the 5 mistakes most women make when trying to quit drinking (and how to avoid them)
Here are the 5 mistakes most women make when trying to stop drinking
[and how to avoid them]
Mistake #1 – Believing that in order to stop drinking you have to know in your heart that you “have a serious problem with alcohol” or that you “have to stop”.
Don’t ask yourself “Am I bad enough to have to quit?”. Instead ask yourself “Is this good enough to keep going?”.
Mistake #2 – Telling yourself that “This time” you are quitting drinking “FOREVER”.
Forever isn’t helpful. It will just trip you up before you even get started.
Tell yourself that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to see how good you can feel when alcohol isn’t your constant companion.
Mistake #3 – Treating not drinking as a form of self-punishment rather than an opportunity.
Taking a break from alcohol is a wonderful gift you are giving yourself. Don’t you want to see HOW GOOD YOU CAN FEEL without headaches and hangovers?
Mistake #4 – Trying to combine quitting drinking with a bigger “health kick, diet overhaul, Whole 30 thing you are doing to lose weight and get fit”.
If you try to eliminate everything at once you won’t succeed.
You’ll give up because it’s all too hard.
Not drinking requires a SINGULAR focus for a while.
Mistake #5 – Waiting for the perfect time to stop drinking.
There is no perfect time. There will always be a dinner party or a wedding or a Thursday night.
You’ve been stuck for a long time now. It’s time to begin.
RESOURCES AND LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Don’t ask yourself if you’re “Bad enough” to have to stop drinking.
Ask yourself if how you feel right now is “good enough” to keep going.
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol.
Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the FREE SOBER GIRL’S GUIDE TO QUITTING DRINKING right here.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
5 Mistakes Most Women Make When Quitting Drinking
drinking, mistakes, curious, hopeful, freedom, focus, priority, recovering
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about five mistakes most women make when they try to stop drinking.
These are the things that usually trip us up that make it hard for us to approach a time without alcohol in a positive and empowering way. These are the thoughts and the practices that make it feel like going without alcohol is punishment, that this is going to be a time of deprivation, and a time of isolation, and something that you really don’t want to do. But you’re coming to as somewhat of a last resort. And I want to spare you from that process. I want to show you that deciding to take a break from alcohol can be the kindest thing that you’ve done for yourself in years. And I hope that by understanding these five steps and not repeating them, I can give you the shortcut to quitting drinking and feeling really good about the decision you’re making.
So mistake number one that most women make is thinking that in order to stop drinking, you have to believe in your heart, that you have a serious problem with alcohol, and that you have to stop. Some people will tell you that in order to stop drinking, you have to know that drinking is a problem in your life. But I don’t necessarily agree with that.
Here’s what I think.
You don’t have to know that you have to stop drinking, to quit successfully. Knowing or believing that you have to stop drinking isn’t required. Instead, you just need to trust that your life will be better without alcohol than it is with it in it. I know that for myself.
When I started this journey on my last day one I didn’t know or believe that I had to stop drinking.
I just felt like crap and believed that drinking was a big reason.
I was waking up at 3:00am feeling immense anxiety, that alcohol was why my face was puffy.
And my eyes were watery and bloodshot that alcohol was why I had gained so much weight and why I felt resentful, and angry.
I wanted to feel better. And I knew that the way I was living wasn’t the way I wanted to live. I suspected that alcohol was the problem, and that it wasn’t going to get better.
It was impacting me physically and mentally. I worried about where it was going to take me. I think it’s a mistake to focus on thinking “is my relationship with alcohol serious enough to have to stop” that I needed to get to that place before I could stop drinking?
No, that will keep the internal debate going forever. You don’t have to hit bottom to decide that drinking isn’t working for you in your life.
All you have to do is be curious enough and wonder if your life might be better than it is now. without alcohol, you don’t have to believe that your drinking is bad enough to have to quit.
You just have to ask yourself, Is this good enough to keep going?
Mistake number two that most women make when they’re trying to quit drinking is thinking that this time, you’re going to quit forever. Thinking about quitting drinking forever and never having a drink again isn’t helpful when you’re just starting out.
I even tell this to my private coaching clients who come to me and say, “I want to work with you because I’m done with alcohol. I never want to drink again.” Now the fact that you’ve gotten to the point that you know, that’s what you want, that’s amazing, good for you. But it’s not required. And honestly, it’s not that helpful of a thing to focus on in the very beginning.
Here’s the thing, when a lot of us start on this journey, we overthink it, and that can make everything start feeling overwhelming. When you’re just starting out, when you’re trying to get some distance from drinking, to build up your first month, and your first two months, forever isn’t helpful. It will send your mind into overdrive. It’ll let you throw in the towel too easily.
You’ll go to a restaurant and see a bottle of wine and think, “Never. I’m never going to have that again” and feel like you want to cry.
You’ll suddenly start thinking about not having champagne at your daughter’s wedding, even though she’s in middle school. Or imagining not drinking on a plaza, on an imaginary trip to Italy and feel sadness. Or you wonder how you’ll travel through Napa without drinking, even though you have no trip to Napa on the horizon.
It’s also too easy to say, “Well, if this is forever, I might as well drink one more time” or “forever is too hard. It’s not worth it. I don’t want to stop forever.” So don’t even go there.
Set your goal for 100 days and then start with smaller increments. Get to 7 days and then 14 days. And then to 21. And celebrate each milestone. It’s something to be truly proud of.
This isn’t about forever. It’s about seeing how you feel without alcohol. So just for a moment, I want you to think about this instead. You’re going to take a break from drinking because you want to see what your life will look like without alcohol and without hangovers, which by the way, it’s awesome. My number one tip to help you quit, is just to get started. Not drinking does not have to define your life and define who you are. You may not believe me, but that’s the truth. I want to say that again. Because a lot of times drinking is so important to us. And we may have so many fears about not drinking, or having to stop drinking and what it would mean, that we get really scared about removing alcohol from our lives. Don’t overthink this.
Right now, you want to feel better, and I can promise you that if you quit drinking, you will absolutely feel better. If you think too much about what it all means, and if you really need to quit forever, or if you really need to quit at all, they’ll never start. And you’ll continue to feel the way you do today. And you’re not living your best life right now. You deserve better.
Which brings us to mistake number three. Treating not drinking as a form of self punishment, rather than an opportunity, a gift you are giving yourself. Usually, when we decide we have to stop drinking, it’s because of a negative consequence, or a fear of a negative consequence, or someone in your life telling you that you need to stop or cut back. By the time we decide to seriously try, to quit drinking, we’ve usually exhausted all of the attempts at moderation. All of the rules about how much you’ll drink or when you drink and have woken up with a headache and a hangover again, that’s all true. There can be negative consequences to drinking. But it’s not helpful to have it in the front of your mind.
You can’t hate yourself well. You can’t shame yourself well. Trying to break yourself into stopping a bad and addictive habit will only work for so long.
You need to love yourself enough to decide that your life will be better without alcohol in it and believe that you deserve that life. That won’t happen all at once. But to start, think of this “not drinking” thing as an experiment and a gift you’re giving yourself. There are a lot of good reasons not to drink. Not the least of which is that you’ll sleep better, you’ll feel healthier, you’ll have more energy, your skin will look less puffy and more clear. Your eyes will be brighter, you’ll feel more optimistic and happier. Now, I’m not promising you that that’ll happen in the first week or the first two weeks, but It will happen and it’ll happen a lot sooner than you think it will.
But it’s natural when you stop drinking, to focus on the things you think you’ll be missing out on.
First of all, the alcohol, the glasses of wine and a beer. The restaurant dinners out if you skip them, because you think it’ll suck too much to go. The happy hours you might decide not to attend. When I started out in my road of not drinking, I felt like I was a teenager who had lost her privileges to the family car. Like I was grounded, and it sucked.
But the truth is, I needed to look at this time, a period of time when I wasn’t drinking as a gift I was giving myself. I had been drinking often, at least weekly, and then daily, for 20 years. The truth is, I knew what my life looked like when I was drinking. Both the good, and the not so good. And the only way that I came to the place where I decided I needed to take a break from drinking, was that the not so good was happening more and more often. And if I’m being honest, I had no idea what my life would look like or feel like if I wasn’t drinking. I’d never tried it. And it’s not the same when you’re not drinking but growing a human in your body.
So, in order to feel good about trying to not drink again, I had to wonder, “Would I be happier, fitter, better rested?” Would I develop new hobbies and new friendships?”
Think about it.
What could your life look like without alcohol in it?
What might your experiences, your days, your evenings, your relationships, adventures or progress be like, in all the things, if you were to stop drinking?
What potential have you been holding back saturated with all that wine?
Would you be more clear and more optimistic?
Might you be healthier and happier? Or productive and purposeful?
Would you take up a new hobby?
Would you be less defensive and resentful?
Wouldn’t you like to find out?
Who would you be without the alcohol? Who could you be?
I vividly remember driving across the bridge from my house to Seattle to meet a friend for breakfast when I was one month sober. And there were so many people out there. They were running and biking and stretching in the sunshine at 8:00am. I thought, “do they do this every weekend?” “Is there a whole world out here that I never see when I roll over and open one eye and try to gauge how bad my headache is going to be?”
Get curious about what might happen in your life. Once you sat down the huge weight of drinking and recovering from drinking that you’ve been carrying around.
Get curious and hopeful.
How might you feel? What kinds of things would you do if you weren’t in the drinking cycle? I didn’t know what my life would look like without alcohol in it. I had a lot of fears. But I was also cautiously optimistic. I was hopeful. I knew how I felt when I was drinking. And I hoped that if I just didn’t drink, day by day, things would feel better.
And here’s what I wrote myself when I hit 100 days without drinking.
When I compare the way I feel now to how awful I felt when I had my last drink, I’m amazed at how much better I feel. I’m proud of myself. I feel moments of contentment and peace and gratitude on a fairly regular basis. I’m happy with my life. I walk into work on a random Tuesday thinking, I want the life I have. How crazy is that? I make plans and I follow through on them. I’ve lost 25 pounds since the start of the year. I’ve run a 10K. I go for walks in the middle of the day at work. I’m more calm and more present with my kids. They don’t set me on edge the way they used to. I feel less anxious and more competent at work. It takes so much less effort to keep track of everything now that I’ve stopped drinking. Life actually feels somewhat manageable, busy, but not overwhelming. I don’t feel so anxious about the future, I actually feel optimistic. I haven’t woken up hating abrading myself in a long time. It hasn’t been easy, but it also hasn’t been quite as hard as I thought it would be. So don’t make the mistake of treating the idea of not drinking as a form of self punishment and deprivation. Think of it as an experiment, a gift you are giving yourself. A period of time in your life without alcohol and get excited. If you’ve been drinking for 20 years like I did. 100 days really isn’t that much time to change and to feel the way I did at the end of that time period.
If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.
Mistake number four that most women make when they try to stop drinking is to combine their “No alcohol time” with a bigger health kick or initiative. A diet overhaul (whole 30 thing) or something that you’re doing to lose weight and get fit. This is one of the most common mistakes that women make when they’re trying to stop drinking. And it’s especially common for those of us who tend to lean towards multitasking, overachieving, being super productive and efficient. When you get to the point when you want to quit drinking, you think “this will be great, I’ll not drink and I’ll not eat unhealthy food. I’ll start running again. It will be a big health kick. In four months, I can lose 20 pounds, and all I have to do is track my food, eliminate wine, workout in the morning, drink all my water, plan all my meals, you get the idea.” There’s a reason this happens. A lot of women get to the point where they want to quit drinking because they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. And an outward sign of that is they no longer like the way they look. They’d been sitting on the couch with their bottle of wine drinking, or feeling too awful and tired on a Saturday morning to go for a run or to make it to a yoga class. And over the weeks and months, that adds up to realizing that you don’t really work out anymore. You drink a lot, and you eat a lot to recover from the drinking. And the next day you’ve repeated. It looks like fun, but it actually feels like crap. So they think they want to fix everything all at once. And in my mind, I used to always think, well, if I’m giving up my wine, I might as well be super disciplined because my wine is what I love most of all, but adding in a diet or a fitness routine helps you think that the change isn’t all about the drinking. It’s about an overhaul of your entire health. And sometimes you find that easier to explain to other people.
Everyone wants to get in shape and eat healthier. And eliminating alcohol is a part of the whole 30. So, if I do the whole 30 I’ll be healthier, a better version of myself. It’ll be easy to tell people what I’m doing. And I’ll fix this whole “drinking too much” thing I have going on. But this approach is a big mistake. And I’ll tell you why.
For most women, when they try to stop drinking as a big health initiative, it leads to white knuckling a diet for two to three weeks, and then drinking because the deprivation is too hard and then you don’t do the work you need to do on reevaluating your relationship with alcohol and reflecting on how you feel without it.
You can’t tell what your energy and your relationships feel like without alcohol, or how you sleep without alcohol. You’re changing too many variables at once. For example, are you irritable? Because you stopped drinking or because you’re starving? Are you tired because your body is recovering from having so much alcohol in your system? Or because you got up at 5:00am to jump on the peloton bike? Are you crashing in energy because we’re removing alcohol or because of removing sugar and alcohol? Now, I’m not saying that working out and eating well can’t be a part of your time without alcohol. But it can’t be the primary focus. In order to make it through your first 30 days and your first 60 days without alcohol, you have to make not drinking the priority in your life and let everything else come next.
Give yourself sober treats. Wine has a lot of sugar in it. You’ll crave sugar when you first stop drinking. That’s okay. It won’t last forever. Don’t let yourself get hungry. That’s a huge trigger for drinking. Eat something with protein around 4:00 or 5:00pm. When you’re usually creating your first drink at the end of the day, you’ll be tired a lot in early sobriety. Your body is recovering. Sleep, take naps on the weekends. When you go out to dinner, the pull will be strong to want to drink. I used to tell my husband to order me a chocolate milkshake before I got there. This was mostly when we went to a gourmet burger place or something with our kids. One chocolate milkshake is way better than consuming a bottle of wine over the evening, and then another bottle of wine the next day, and the next day after that, because I broke my streak anyway. And the milkshake tasted amazing. But if I had tried to go to the restaurant and eat a salad, no alcohol and drink water, instead of a burger, fries and a milkshake, I would have never made it through my first month. I would have said, “This sucks. This is too hard. I am out.”
So just focus on the “not drinking”, the health kick will come. To start, you’re trying to ditch this really addictive habit that is offered up and surrounds us everywhere. That’s enough. That’s hard enough to do.
Mistake number five. The last mistake women make when trying to stop drinking is that they’re waiting for the perfect time. Now we all know this on a smaller scale. We’re going to eat healthy and cut out sugar and go to the gym and we always start on a Monday. Thursday is a terrible day to start a health kick right? Monday is so much better. And the same thing happens with not drinking. We try to stop on a Monday and not drink until the weekend, which somehow starts on Thursday because Friday is the start of the weekend anyway. And for a bigger time without alcohol, we want to wait until after all the big drinking events are done. January is a better time than December because of all the holiday parties and New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve fall is better than summer because in the summer you had a lot of picnics and happy hours and sitting outside on patios. There will never be a perfect time to start. There really won’t.
You will always have a birthday coming up, a wedding, a vacation, a company happy hour, a weekend or a Thursday night. The school auction or the dinner party will always be right around the corner. There’s a reason that you’ve decided that drinking isn’t working for you, and that you’re listening to this podcast. That’s your sign. Just get started. I promise you, it’s worth it.
In the next episode, I’m going to give you some really practical step by step tips to set you up for success in your first week or two. So, be sure to listen to that next.
But to review, the five mistakes that most women make when they’re trying to quit drinking are the: number one, thinking that in order to stop, you have to believe in your heart that you have a serious problem with alcohol, and that you have to stop.
Mistake number two, is thinking that this time, you are quitting drinking forever. It’s too big. What you’re doing is you’re taking a break from drinking because you want to see what your life will look like without alcohol as part of it. Don’t overthink this. If you think too much about it and about what it all means and if You really need to quit forever. Or if you really need to quit at all, you’ll never get started.
Mistake number three, is treating not drinking as a form of self punishment, rather than an opportunity, a gift you’re giving yourself to see what your life could look like without alcohol as a part of it.
Mistake number four, is trying to combine stopping drinking with a bigger health kick, a diet overhaul, a whole 30 thing, something that you’re doing to lose weight and get fit. You can’t eliminate everything at once. Focus on not drinking as your primary goal. Everything else will come.
Mistake number five, is waiting until there’s a perfect time to stop drinking. Remember, you’re not doing this forever, or that’s what you need to tell yourself to successfully get some sober momentum. You’re going for 100 days, there will always be a dinner party. There will always be a wedding. There will always be an occasion to drink.
You can do 100 days. You’ve been drinking for years and years.
Don’t overthink this.
You’ve got this. And I promise you it is worth it.
You are going to feel better and if you want an extra leg up on stopping drinking and feeling really good about it, I’ve got a guide filled with a ton of information and tips on how to make your first 30 days of not drinking powerful, positive and successful.
Go to www.hellosomedaycoaching.com there you’ll find my sober girls guide to quitting drinking. Just sign up and I will send it to you.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.