My Not So Secret Diary

Preparing For A Challenge

I signed up for so many challenges to try to help me slow down my drinking over the years before I got sober. I think I thought if I signed up, I’d just be able to do it, but of course, as many people may have found, it’s not always that easy. There is no magic quick fix. Sometimes I never even got further than the signing up; I certainly don’t remember ever finishing a challenge in the early days, but in hindsight it wasn’t the challenge that was wrong, but my mind set. You need to prepare to make any change in your life, and whether you are addicted to alcohol or not, if you are choosing to cut it out for a set period of time or for longer, it’s likely to make quite a difference to your life. Whether you drink socially or at home like I did, you’d be surprised at how much of your time alcohol actually takes up. So the first thing you’re going to notice is that you’ll have more time on your hands. Extra time isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s just something to be aware of so you’re not taken by surprise!

There are a lot of challenges at any time of the year, but with a couple coming up before Christmas, including a 60 day one with Bee Sober that I’m coaching on, I thought I’d put together a list of things that might help you stay the course, because sometimes, failure is not an option.

• If you can, begin to cut down what you drink well before the challenge starts. Once, I would have been of the thinking that I’d drink more beforehand to keep me going, but actually, it only makes it harder for your mind and your body to cope, so if you ease off gradually, it won’t be such a shock to the system.
• Remove the temptation. If it’s not in the house you can’t drink it, and if you don’t go to the pub you won’t feel the need to join in with others. It’s such a simple thing, but so effective.
• Be aware of the money you’re saving by not drinking, and set a target for how you’re going to spend the money instead. Fill a jar or make a chart so you can really see the amount grow.
• Find things to do. You might not want to go out, so find a new hobby you can do at home. Maybe you need to get out, and can use your new found time to go for a run, walk or swim. The days are so much longer without alcohol, so you can achieve so much more. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you enjoy it and it keeps you occupied.
• Join others in the challenge. This could be signing up with friends you know already, or alternatively making the effort to meet others who have already signed up for the challenge. Connecting with others will help no end, as you’ll have others that can help you when you’re having a tough day. There will most likely be times when your friends need your reassurance too. No one is infallible, but support makes a huge difference.
• Do your research and find some alcohol free alternatives to replace what you’d normally drink. There are so many options now from iced teas and fizzy drinks to alcohol free wines and beers. You are not missing out by not drinking alcohol, just choose something that you can enjoy and look forward to.

The biggest thing I would say is to make sure you get support. It doesn’t matter what form that comes in, as long as it suits you. Surround yourself in person or online with people who get you and what you’re doing, and you’ll be fine. There will be hard days, but you can do it. Trust me on that, because if I can do it, anyone can.

Take care and good luck! Claire x