Saturday, 6 January 2018

5 Ways to Get Through Wine O'Clock



That's my actual kitchen clock.

I used to watch it tick, slowly slowly, towards that position, with the big hand on the twelve and the little hand on the six, when I could legitimately pour myself a (very large) glass of wine.

If you recently quit drinking (WELL DONE YOU!) you'll be finding that this is the very hardest part of the day. You're tired, stressed, fed up, and your go-to solution (possibly your only solution) to all of those feelings has, for many years, been booze.

You miss it! Of course you do! It leaves a big hole in your life.

But fret not, because over time you will find many better and healthier ways to fill that gap and to wind down at the end of the day - things that won't leave you feeling hungover, unhealthy and miserable.

The booze cravings don't last that long. You just need to find ways of getting through the next hour and then, if it's really hard still, go to bed early with a good book and a hot chocolate (hot chocolate has magical powers).

You'll wake up in the morning feeling AMAZING!

So, here are some great ways of getting through that witching hour. Do please add your own suggestions in the comments below!

1. Get Drinking

No, not booze, obviously!

I always, always pour myself a 'special' drink at wine o'clock.

There's no reason why you can't still relax in a great armchair with a yummy, adult drink and congratulate yourself on a day well done - just make sure it's alcohol free!

There are a HUGE range of great alcohol free beers now (Becks Blue was the only option when I first quit. As a result it still has a special place in my heart...).

My new favourite, however, is Seedlip - a fabulous alcohol-free distilled spirit, available from Amazon. It's not cheap, I'm afraid, but at least you won't be drinking the whole bottle in one sitting!

I even made a YouTube video (I know! I'm so trendy, right?) of how to make my favourite Seedlip mocktail. Click here.

A really good grown-up drink helps trick your brain into winding down. I sometimes think Becks Blue saved my life.

2. Get Distracted

Don't just sit there thinking about booze - get busy!

Exercise boosts your serotonin levels, giving you a natural high, as does getting outside, so go for a long dog walk, or a run - get away from the fridge with all its wine memories.

If you have young children at home and can't get out, then you could do what I did in the early days and get cleaning! Again, it's great exercise, it keeps your hands busy and your mind occupied, and you end up with a gleaming house. What's not to like?

3. Get Relaxed

If you can't face the physical exercise then try relaxation instead.

Why not just curl up in a good chair and read?

In the early days, I read everything I could get my hands on about booze. It fed the obsession, but also helped me realise that I was not alone and gave me knowledge, which is power.

If you haven't done so already, then read the Sober Diaries. Click here, and chose the 'look inside' feature to read the first few chapters for free!

Other recommendations are: Jason Vale's Kick the Drink, Easily - the book that changed my life. It will totally reprogram the way your brain sees alcohol.

My favourite memoirs are Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story and Sarah Hepola's Blackout.

I love a great page-turner novel based around a boozy heroine. Read Marian Keyes's Rachel's Holiday, Jane Green's Summer Secrets, and Paula Hawkin's The Girl on The Train.

There's also new inspiration and information about quitting booze posted every day at wine o'clock on the SoberMummy Facebook page. Click here to visit, 'like' page to stay updated.

A long, hot bath with bubbles, good music or an audio book, and low lighting is another great way of relaxing.

And here's a new trick I've discovered: SPACEMASKS.

They're awesome. They're funky eye masks that you pop over your eyes, then you lie back and chill as they heat up and release incredible aromatherapy stuff.

If you're having problems nodding off to sleep then this is your solution (along with a magnesium supplement at bedtime).

To find Spacemasks, click here.

You need to take time out and look after yourself. You are doing an incredible thing. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Let the kids play Minecraft for a bit.

4. Get Connected

In Johann Hari's incredible TED talk, he says that the opposite of addiction is connection, and it's true.

Find yourself a tribe - either online or in real life - who will give you love and support, and who you can help back.

My favourite online communities are Club Soda, Soberistas and Recovery Buddha (who you can find on Facebook), but there are many more.

5. Get Mindful

Mindfulness is a great way of relaxing and taking your mind off the whole booze thing.

You can us the Headspace App to guide you through ten minute mediations.

If, however, you're like me and meditating makes you feel like a bit of a pillock, then you can do anything that keeps you totally focused on the moment.

For some people that's yoga, or knitting, or gardening or art, or playing the piano - whatever floats your boat and keeps your mind and hands busy.

If you live in or near the Scottish Borders then you can keep yourself distracted at wine o'clock on January 31st by coming to meet me in St Boswells at the wonderful Mainstream Trading Company.

You can get tickets here. Please come! I'd love to meet you!

Love to you all,

SM x

70 comments:

  1. Morning Clare! You're so right that the cravings don't last long. But, even six months in, I still get the occasional craving that smacks you between the eyes. It's more of a "I could really do with a glass of wine" type thing. It's now an irritant rather than a need. I haven't tried 'fake' alcohol because mentally, to me, it's a reminder of the real thing and I'm afraid that I would go overboard with the fake stuff or be tempted to go back to the real poison. I tend to use the distraction method which works well for me. Having said that I did find a lovely mocktail that I have on occasion: elderflower and apple cooler. It's Elderflower cordial, cloudy apple juice, lemonade and a squeeze of lemon juice with lots of ice. (Very well done BTW!)

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    1. It’s a really good point, Mrs W, that fake booze can be triggering. I never drank beer, so fake beer works for me. Fake wine, however, I have to be cautious with....

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    2. I read an article this morning about alcohol free substitutes in the Daily Mail. There is an AF free gin that you can buy. I couldn't help but think why torment yourself? The whole thing is a can of worms. I do appreciate that each person has to do what is best for them x

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    3. It's not that I don't like soft drinks - I do. I enjoy elderflower with soda, lime with soda etc. But.. I tend to guzzle them down way too fast, so alcohol free beer (also loving Becks Blue) and wine is working for me. With self analysis I've come to realise that it is a 'drink' I want, not the alcohol.. I've found a nice 0.5% Sauvignon Blanc which fills that early evening spot perfectly. I'm not trying to give up completely but have cut my consumption during March from around 50 units per week to 6.5 in the last 7 days. Will I stop completely? I don't know yet - but I'm proud of what I've achieved in March.

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  2. Thanks for this list. I have a non alcoholic drink everynight. I find it really helps at 'that time of night'. Might try getting out for a walk too.

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  3. I make myself a mocktail every evening at the moment. And eat 1000 crisps (that’s probably not so good...). Annie x

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  4. Like you Clare, I never drank beer so Becks was away from the wine witch area of control. However my drink now is Elderflower (I favour the Bottle Green) with tonic and lots of ice. I went out and bought myself a couple of rather posh glasses (thin glass - very grown up) (not wine glasses) which tinkle nicely.
    Just to say also ... That body clock part of me has changed too .... I will suddenly realise that it is past 6 and I have had no itch!! How good is that :-) Soldier on Chaps and Chapesses ... All that SM says is true!! :-))

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  6. Clare I have absolutely loved your book! I read it after hearing you on Radio 2 last week. I was at work and on Day 2 of detox so was feeling really unsure and alone. I couldn't believe that you were talking about as it resonated exactly with me! I am now on Day 7 and you have been the single biggest inspiration to me in this exciting (because l know it is) journey. This is the longest that I haven't had a drink since I was pregnant 21 years ago. Thank you for helping me to change my life ❤

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    1. Yay! I’m so pleased I helped, Ellie! Thanks for letting me know ❤️

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  7. Day 8 here and even though I was a Monica when drinking, the house has now moved to Mega Monica proportions. Think Monica when she was larger in Friends!
    I like it and like it much better than the way my drinking has got on attempt 4 to give up. Am off to buy those Space Masks too! xx

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    1. I love Monica! Big hugs to you xxx

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  8. Thank goodness I've found you. Day 6 and so far so good but I am relying on the help of alcohol free beer. I've tried many times before to be a moderate drinker or to stop and stick to water etc but never lasted more than 3 days. So far this year I've doubled that. Anxiety has always been a big part of my life and is only now I'm seeing that wine did nothing to help that. Your book and interview has really made me see I'm not alone and that I can do this. I have a fantastic family, a good job and a nice home but I've definitely been putting wine first. How pathetic is that especially as I hadn't even realised I was doing that until I added up exactly how much I drank (and spent). But I'm not going to keep being ashamed of my past I'm going to focus on being proud I'm doing something to get out of the hole I'm in. 2018 the year to be different.

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    1. Whoop whoop Netty! Well done you! Go girl!

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  9. Thank you! I’ve just done 1 whole week without alcohol. You have been an inspiration!! X

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    1. Well done! Keep going - it gets better! ❤️

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  10. Spacemasks look amazing! Can I give a shout out to the humble cup of tea? For me there is something about the ritual of warming the pot, spooning out the tea, pouring the boiling water over, letting it brew, pouring it into a proper china cup, adding just the right amount of milk. It got me through many a wine o’clock in a way that the special corkscrew, glasses etc. used to.

    Well done on all the recognition you’ve had so far SM. You deserve every accolade!

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  11. I am heading towards the end of Day 8, having got through my first alcohol free weekend in living memory. I am proud of myself but nervous about whether I can keep it going. I feel like I can at the moment but worried nonetheless. I am sleeping like a log which is great but I am still waiting for the energy to kick in. And I’ve broken out in spots - has that happened to anyone else?

    Anyway, pleased with myself so far but not complacent. I’ve just been and treated myself to some new clothes, which I never do. I felt I deserved it. Good luck everyone x

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    1. Well done! I set milestones like first day, first weekend, first week, week 2, one month etc. But I found this; that first week was the worst. After that, I had some success under my belt - I knew I could go without and I wasn't going to die. Keep going and good luck :)

      ( don't know about spots, but I had headaches for a week or two. )

      Love

      Rob

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    2. Don’t worry about the spots! That’s your body detoxing! Soon you’ll have lovely clear skin and bags of energy! ❤️

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    3. Thank you, I have a cracking headache today but that’s a temporary inconvenience in the bigger picture. Bought some exotic sounding cordials today to add variety to the non alcoholic drink selection ☺️

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  12. I am also on Day 8 and have got through a weekend without wine. Then a couple of triggers happened to me today. I came home from work and found that our car wouldn't start and would cost more money to fix. This started making me feel anxious and when I felt like this before I would reach for the trusty bottle of wine to make it easier to deal with. I also had to pop into my local supermarket to pick up a few bits and I would always sneak in a bottle for the evening. I am pleased to say I didn't and instead of drinking wine to deal with the anxiety, I have cleaned the house, caught up on paperwork, had a drink of hot water and read this blog. This has really helped and it is great to feel like so many other people are going through the same trials to stop. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Well done. I haven’t had a real test yet which in some ways is good but makes me nervous cos it’s bound to happen. x

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    2. Well done - that’s awesome! It’s hard initially when booze is our go-to prop to deal with everything! But over time you learn more and more different strategies and become a veritable superhero! Hugs to you xxx

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  13. Just ordered some Spacemasks! New to me .

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  14. I love these tips. I used to think I shouldn't use any tools to get through it, as I was just replacing one vice with another. But, I'm so much wiser now, and know that as long as I keep from drinking wine - all is good. Sometimes, the only thing for me is to just to go to bed early and I'm totally okay with that ;)

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    1. Isn’t going to bed earlier a revelation! I’ve read The Sober Diaries twice and and half way through a new book. I’ve always loved reading but haven’t bothered at all over the last two years when I’ve been drinking heavily. Reading the comments here is also a great boost, I am not a freak and I am not alone, it’s a good feeling. Good luck SLV x

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    2. Early bed times definitely got me through the first few weeks! And early mornings are a revelation! And step away from the Pinot, you are definitely not alone and certainly not a freak! Huge to you both! Xxx

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    3. Thank you ❤️. I have frequently looked at my Facebook and Instagram feeds on a Saturday or Sunday morning (very late morning) through bleary eyes and pounding head, and marvelled at my friends who had already run 10k or been swimming with their kids or just done their supermarket shopping, all before I’d even opened my eyes let alone surfaced from my pit. I couldn’t understand how they had the energy or enthusiasm to get going. Everyone stays in bed at least until the end of Saturday Kitchen don’t they ?

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  15. Having been around these parts (wonderful SM's blog) for a full two years now, and observing/participating in a tribe of folks who found success in varying degrees, what is standing out to me now .....is that it is still happpening: a whole new tribe, it would seem, of folks trying, and eager, to kick a habit and finding strength and support here.

    To change one lfe in a liftime would be a profound achievement....to have a beneficial effect on MANY.....that's just beyond awesome. Kudos to SM's unique 'way' to affect/support us. And kudos to every newbie who is finding a new path; it CAN happen. Wishing me...and everyone else here...continued determination and success! — Northwoman

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  16. Hi. I’m nearly at the end of day 9. I’m loving your blogs and nearly finished your book. I feel like you wrote it just for me! So thank you. I fully intend to stick with you this time. Can’t wait for the witching hour to be a thing of the past :)

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  17. Also putting £10 in a jar for every day I don’t buy wine, I’m shocked at how shocked I am to see it build up - normally that money would be long gone by now !

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    1. That is SUCH a good idea! I think the first fortnight is the hardest part. Especially the fatigue and headaches. Never thought I'd get through Christmas and New Year. On day 44 now. I have noticed a change in mood. Sadly yet to discover increased energy levels- seem to get a pronounced afternoon dip :/
      Keep going everyone! Xxx

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    2. Weird thing is I initially panicked about withdrawing the cash until I realised if I had bought wine it would be gone but now I have it to spend on something nice. Can’t beleive how stupid I’ve been with my health and money. Well done you 44 days is amazing xxx

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    3. Nor I. Thanks Pinot :) hope you are managing well x

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  18. Hi all, great reading your comments. I made the decision to give up drinking and lose weight in December. Got everything in place ready to start in the new year including my own blog. Then I heard Clares interview on radio 2. I couldn't believe it, someone else out there feels the same as me! Sober Diaries hit my doormat the very next day. Great book and so relatable. Thank you for caring and sharing. Knowing we are not alone helps to give us all strength.
    Here's to the revolution of changing ourselves and to life o'clock :)

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    1. What is your blog? I will follow!

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    2. Hi Anne, that would be lovely to know your following.
      Blog is sobermeslimmerme.com

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    3. Well done starting a blog! I'll check it out! xxx

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  19. So I had no intention of stopping drinking - certainly not taking part in Dry January which I always thought was a pointless gimmick!! But I read an excerpt from your book in the paper and it sounded a little too much like me, so I bought your book out of curiosity and surprised myself by reading the whole thing in one day on 1st January - that was my last day drinking!! I'm now day 9 and weirdly have no desire to drink alcohol at all, in actual fact I'm feeling euphoric and really excited - although slightly worried I'm going to come down with a bump!! The penny dropped like a 10 tonne boulder when I mentioned to my moderate drinking, take-it-or-leave-it husband that I was thinking about not drinking and he said "Oh but its so much fun when you become blurry and slurry after a few glasses!" OMG - he wasn't being mean but that is what I'd become a 40 something blurry and slurry mum of 4!! Your book Clare was the catalyst and so honest, helpful, realistic and funny without once spouting 'good advice' - thank you, you've helped me change my life :0)

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    1. I was just like you. Read the article, went on Amazon and down loaded the book! Day 15 for me.

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    2. Yay! Here's to never being blurry and slurry again! xxx

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  20. Clare I’ve just got round to listening to your Steve Wright interview. You sounded great and so professional! I was practically answering the questions for you ha ha! Congratulations it’s so deserved. And well done to everyone starting out - it really is worth it thats a promise.

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  21. I have used alcohol for as long as I can remember. And have wanted, tried and failed many times to give it up. I lost some weight back in September and October last year and that was mainly because I cut back on all the boozing. But by November because I was successful in saying no to it, thought I could handle drinking again in moderation. Which of course didn't work. By the time December came round the office lunches and parties kicked in and I was back to drinking every day. One thing I noticed this time as that my mood swings were intense - with the persistent hangovers and constant anxiety. I couldn't handle the slightest thing and became more irrational than normal. By New Years Eve 2017 I'd had enough and just kind of stopped. I didn't plan to. It seems to have just happened. I saw Clare Pooley's article in the Daily Mail and could immediately relate to it and ordered her book which I am already half way through. This blog is also amazing - so much advice and support. I get crushing cravings every day and think about alcohol pretty much all the time but somehow I know I've got to push through this time. I'm worried about going out for dinner with friends as they are all big drinkers (like I have been) and I'm finding myself constantly worrying about how I'm going to put them off without admitting that I'm trying to quit. I've also got a big party to attend this weekend and am also worrying how I'm going to get through that. I've bought some alcohol free beer and wine which has been in the fridge for well over a week now. I am trying to look at them as to be used in times of desperation and not an everyday replacement. So here I am on day 10 taking literally every hour as it comes. Good luck to everyone and thank you so much Clare Pooley. You really are such an amazing inspiration. Jacqueline

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    1. ... You will be sooo pleased you have stopped ... Read all you can of Clare's blog. Get her book, it is amazing and a real good read. You can use the 'dry January' as your reason for not drinking at the moment, it is easier. (Or 'on antibiotics' anything that works for you). I bet on day 2 you never believed you would get to day 10!! And here you are, day 11 tomorrow :-)
      Hang on in there ... It does get easier and then just keeps getting better....

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    2. Jacs60 - thank you so much. It is very comforting to read everyone's success stories and you at 500 days! That is amazing and very well done you. You must be so proud. I know I will get there. I have to otherwise it will take me, my marriage and relationship with the kids with me. I gave up smoking about 5 years ago and i was on a packet a day, may be two. I can still remember feeling all the things I do now and the immense pressure to smoke. I couldn't imagine my life without them yet now I can't ever imagine lighting up. I do dabble with the e-ciggarettes but that's in the pipeline for later on. One thing at a time! Thanks again for all your support!! Jacqueline

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    3. You can do it! Have you read Jason Vale's book, Kick the Drink Easily, yet? It'll really help change your mindset and make dealing with parties and stuff much easier!

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    4. Thank you Clare. I haven't read that book yet. I will order it. I bought some Budweiser alcohol free lager yesterday and it's not bad. I've also had the Heineken AD and the Becks Blue. All very good. I had my best pals 40th last night. 13 days in and I found it incredibly hard. Everyone was hammered and I got lots of questions on why I wasn t drinking. I made up I was taking antibiotics to get everyone off my back and found I couldn't relax and clock watched the entire evening. I also felt so snappy. I drove home and the plus side of course is no hangover today which is great. I am determined to see this through but am finding it very hard at the moment. Jacqueline xx

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  22. I just thought I would share .... Day 500 today!!!
    I can still remember the beginning agonies and wanted to not brag, just to say if I can - anyone can and the time seems to have flown by .. Happily. Hope this helps if you are feeling glum ... You are on a good path and glum will pass.
    Next treat is a swanky new lens for my camera which I never would have been able to afford nor felt I deserved .. Now I can and I do :-)

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    1. WooHoo! Good on you. It's great that you're still treating yourself - it really is a big deal!

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    2. A VERY big deal! You've every right to crow...and feel very proud. Congrats! - northwoman

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    3. Jacs, that it TOTALLY AWESOME! Huge congrats to you, girlfriend! Go buy that camera lens!

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  23. Clare your book has been just the push I needed to get on with becoming AF. In fact, it was a post on Instagram by Selfish Mother (who is doing a year of sobriety) where I first heard about your book. At first I thought it wasn't for me because I thought 'I haven't to that much of a problem.. have I?' But as soon as I downloaded it and started reading it I could see soooo many similarities with my own life. The low self esteem, anxiety, mood swings, shouting at the kids... and so the list goes on. I also love the easy, honest and, at times, funny style you have of writing. It could almost be 'Bridget Jones Gets Sober' it has the same tone to it! I am now on day 10 and determined to get to 100 days. Thank so much Clare for your bravery in baring all and helping so many of us make a much needed change to our lives xxx

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    1. Yay! So glad you found me, Maryflo, and huge thanks to Selfish Mother! Please stay in touch xxx

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  24. Thank you so much; you have written a book which is completely relatable to so many women who think that a bottle of wine per night is the norm (myself included)... well it’s not; I think subconsciously we all knew that... but your book has given me the affirmation that I needed to finally do something about it and to pull some positivity from something that for so long has made me feel so negative; I can and I am now able to live my life without using alcohol as a lynchpin to celebrate, commiserate and deal with the average everyday. Without starting each day looking back with regret, I can now wake up and look forward to what the day will bring. Be proud, stay strong and keep on enjoying your life as an inspirational sober woman. Xx

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  25. Without your book I would probably now be three sheets to the wind! Day 8 and very proud of myself. You are my inspiration and your honesty rings so many bells I didn’t realise how bad it was. You have been brave, open and honest and that has helped so many! Thank you xx

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    1. Huge congrats on 8 days! AWESOME! xxx

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  26. Hi Clare, I decided to do Dry January after a very stressful three months drinking everything I could lay my hands on. Even breast cancer five years ago didn't stop me drinking - if anything I drank more as I felt I had nothing to lose. On New Year's Eve I drank a large SB at lunch, a bottle of SB in the evening then I chased around for something else to drink before midnight. I was throwing G&T down my throat and stopped just before the first stroke of midnight. Inevitably I woke up on New Years Day with a hangover wondering if I could possibly stay sober throughout January. Then something strange happened - I heard you on the Steve Wright show. I identified with so much of what you said that I wanted to learn more. I have read your book and I'm working my way through Jason Vale's. One Sunday night I found myself driving to three stores to find Becks Blue as I wanted a drink and was determined not to succumb to alcohol. This was ONE WEEK after I was scrambling about looking for something to drink before the New Year started. If it hadn't happened to me I don't think I would have believed this was possible. Jason Vale says that it takes 7-10 days for alcohol to leave your body completely. I actually don't know how many years it has been since I had no alcohol in mine. I know there is a long road ahead bu I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for changing my life and please keep going! Xx

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    1. I'm so thrilled you found me! Huge congrats to you!!!

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  27. I am grateful for your book! Like you, I am reading everything I can get my hands on regarding personal journeys and stopping alcohol. Your book is exactly what I needed to read! So intelligently written, funny, with good factual material at the right times. I love how you made quitting so doable! Thank you for writing this amazing book!

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  28. Hi Clare,
    I bought your book yesterday and read it in one sitting. You articulated so much of what had been going on in my own head about stopping drinking (especially will my partner or other people think I’m boring?!) The chapter on the “is it missing?!” handbag made me cringe.
    I’ve decided to cut back significantly this year and still enjoy the odd glass of champagne or really good red wine but I have also committed to stopping completely if I reach the stage where I can’t just have one.
    Thank you for your honesty and wonderful writing.
    xxx

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  29. Just finished your book........could not put it down.
    I had my last alcoholic drink on Christmas day.Have been moving slowly towards complete sobriety for several years.....almost like giving it trial runs but never quite followed it through!
    Middle-aged, overweight, menopausal, and on and off antidepressants for many years. Self medicating with a bottle of wine most nights......sensible!! I am not proud of the way I so often behaved when drinking......certainly wasn't the best version of me....
    Already feel the haze is clearing.My family hated me drinking and are so proud that I am addressing this issue which I know will kill me if I don't change.
    Something inside me has changed and your fantastic blog and book have played a big part! Thank you lovely lady....

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  31. I am currently listening to your book. I obviously picked it up because I was searching for books on alcoholism. It is like reading my own diary. Today is day one. Thank you for everything you have put out there. It is life changing. This post is so helpful.

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  32. some wines, like Vinho Verde. If it is a sparkling wine, are they gentle bubbles or aggressive? Do they last, or fade? These can be indications of quality.
    https://www.ilovewine.com/

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