Making the decision to choose a sober life is never an easy one, but for many it is essential to their physical and mental health. The crux of it is, that sober living is the gift that keeps on giving, which may shock many of you out there who have yet to make the decision, or you’re in the early days. We are within the first year of our sober journey as we write this, so as you can imagine we are ticking many items off our sober bucket list.
You may be concerned that life will become boring and awkward when you take the plunge, but in reality, the fun is only just beginning and at least now you will remember it. We thought it would be interesting to gather our sober bucket list items, so you can see how many you’ve completed already, or what you have yet to tick off.
We know from experience that the more of these you do, the easier sobriety will become. So, when you’re comfortable in the decision, why not challenge yourself every so often and pick one.
Our Sobriety List of Things to Do
We’ve started with the one that filled us with complete dread! As we made the decision to quit booze we had the usual thoughts, ‘will I be boring’, ‘will anyone like me’ and of course ‘will I ever dance in public again’. Why this is so important to us, we have no idea. But we have fond memories of shaking our shimmy in many bars and clubs, so it would make sense you would want to feel the euphoria of dancing to your favourite tune again.
We have danced sober but not the same as we would have, had we been drinking, so that’s still something we’re working towards. The reality is that when everyone else is drunk around you, they don’t really care if you can dance or not, because they’re too busy in their booze bubble. Once the tunes start and you feel that base turn up, just go with your natural instincts, and shake that booty.
Going to the Pub with Friends
The thought of this can be triggering for many, so it is worth waiting until you have grown in strength and confidence. The key to enjoying yourself is taking control of the event and not expecting it to be as it was. Yes, many things will have changed which can make you feel down. But there is so much more to a night out in the pub than getting completely wasted. Firstly, work out what you’re going to drink, we enjoy alcohol free cider and the odd mocktail, but you may prefer the af beers. Then if you haven’t told anyone about your decision, it may be time to let those friends know. This means that you won’t be barraged with a million questions when you arrive such as the annoyingly common ‘you can have one, can’t you?’.
Most of you will probably drive, mainly because you can now you’re sober, so remember you always have a get out option. If you’re not driving, then make sure you can get away if you find the event triggering or uncomfortable.
Now we prewarn you, you may feel awkward the first time you go out with friends, but the more you do it the easier it gets. For us this has become incredibly normal, and we enjoy it more now than we did before. Especially because we can pack our weekends with nights out, knowing we don’t have to spread them out to account for the hangovers.
The great part of going to the pub with your mates sober is that you remember the whole night and you interact with your friends in a way you never did when you were drunk. We now know way more about our friends lives then we did when we drank, because essentially drunk people are pretty selfish. As sober warriors we can take control of the conversation and find out things about our friends we never knew which can only deepen your relationship.
It’s also weirdly fun watching people get drunk, almost like a David Attenborough documentary. As they slip into the drunken phases, you’ll begin to wonder if you were like that. Whether it’s the inability to talk at a normal volume, repeating the same thing over and over, or spitting on your face as they talk, you’ll start to realise how awful getting drunk actually is.
Just because you’re sober it doesn’t mean you’ll never want to spend time in a pub again, because we still love that collective effervescence of people being together. The key to enjoying the experience is to go in without any expectations of the night and having a way to leave whenever you want. Remember that you don’t have to stay until the end like you use to do, just stay until you get tired and leave happy.
This is another one we have ticked off and although it had some difficult moments, overall, it was a great experience. Ours was a Carnival cruise in Europe and normally when we travel, we drink, a lot! There are many traditions associated with holidays and this was the area we found difficult to break. We landed in Porto Portugal and have to admit there was a slight tantrum because we couldn’t try port. But once we broke through that and realised how silly it was, the rest of the trip was easy, and we got to try lots of beautiful mocktails.
Drinking on holiday has become such a norm that you will see pictures of friends in the airport downing beers at crazy o’clock in the morning. The culture has normalised alcohol so much that at each stage you travel there is the opportunity to drink alcohol, from the airport, the flight to the hotel.
If you are at the point where you cannot imagine going on vacation without drinking, then it may not be wise to book anything. You will feel stronger in your sobriety as time goes on and those cravings will diminish. Another suggestion would be trying a different trip to what you would normally do. If your usual holiday is heading to an all-inclusive in Spain, then why not try a city break or something which involves exploring more of the country you are visiting.
As with going on nights out, the key in the beginning is to plan and have treats which don’t involve alcohol. Sadly, most of us don’t exactly eat well when we become sober, but that will only last in the beginning. Just focus on getting through the early days and the ‘firsts’, then you can think about health and diet. If the cravings are bad in the airport or on the plane, then nibble or play a game with a friend or family member; anything to distract you.
Then when you arrive at your destination, ask at the hotel bar what af drinks are available or head to the local supermarket and see what they have on offer. We have known people pack af bottles for the first few days, in fact we took alcohol free Gordons pink gin with us on the cruise.
If you have holiday traditions which involve alcohol, then break them and find new ones. We always tried the local drinks for example, but instead we enjoy heading to a local clothing shop and buying something new to wear. It’s a lot cheaper then drinking booze, our wardrobe has grown, and we have clothes which remind us of the places we have travelled to.
Now we’re going to include Christmas parties and the general festive season in this section. For many this is the one which leads them back to drinking. How can you get through Christmas and not drink? How can you even enjoy it? At the point we had our first sober Christmas we were 6 months in and absolutely dreading it. The reality is it was incredibly easy, but we think that is because we made plans for the day and due to the length of time we had already been sober.
This means what you experience will vary depending on how far into your sobriety you are. But don’t let that put you off because many people have gone sober just before Christmas and still made it through.
Again, this one is all about the planning, because you need to be prepared to break those usual patterns of behaviour. If you normally have Baileys Christmas morning, then what about a hot chocolate instead? Fizz with your Christmas dinner then grab lots of bottles of alcohol-free prosecco such as Nozeco. There are lots of alternatives out there to make life much easier and make sure you have lots of nibbles to ease those cravings, because on your first sober Christmas the diet can wait. The main goal is to not drink, so you do what you have to, to get through.
Another new element we added to our first Christmas sober was making new traditions, so we bought board games to play on the big day and planned meals with friends instead of the usual drinks. Most triggers tend to be around the things we normally do and the difficulty in breaking away from them, for example not having that glass of wine on a Friday night. But once you break that tie it gets much easier and you’ll realise it works with all of those scary firsts.
When it comes to Christmas parties then you have two choices, you can go and just do what you feel comfortable with. That maybe going for a couple of hours or testing yourself and getting on that dance floor, it will be very individual. The second option is to simply say no thank you and have a quieter Christmas period, because we can promise you that heading to your second one, you’ll be ready to enjoy it fully with a newfound sober confidence.
Coming Out as Sober
We’ve mentioned this a little above, but many people find it difficult to tell their friends and family they have made the decision to go sober. The reason for this tends to be the stigma attached to quitting alcohol, because that means you must have been an alcoholic. We had the usual comments made ‘but you didn’t drink that much’, ‘you can have one though,’ and our favourite ‘so you’re boring now.’ But in general, we had a good response because in reality as long as you’re not affecting other people’s drinking, they don’t really care.
It’s easy for us to say, but be proud of your decision, although we understand that it’s not always as simple as it sounds. So, take your time and make the decision when you feel comfortable to tell everyone. It maybe that you do it in stages and just tell family first. We know of people who bought af beer and asked for it to be put in a glass so no one noticed, until they were ready to tell their friends. How you do it is completely up to you, but once you come out to the world that you’re sober, it will feel like a huge relief, and you may influence others to reconsider their drinking habits.
As a little extra note on this one; if you do tell people and they question you, remember it is none of their business why you made the decision. It is perfectly acceptable for you to say it is for personal reasons and not stand there explaining your decision in depth.
Again, another one we have ticked off from our list and to be completely transparent it had its pros and cons. The wedding ceremony was at 12 o’clock so as you can imagine we were up early to get ready and gather bits because we were part of the wedding party. We had asked the venue if they sold Nozeco or if it was ok that we brought some with us and they kindly agreed it was fine. This meant that during the meal, speeches etc it looked as if we had champagne alike the rest of the guests. Being sober meant we were fully present to not only enjoy the day, but to help and support the bride and groom if they needed it.
The difficulty happened as time wore on and by 10 o’clock we were exhausted and wanted to go home. This is at the point when everyone who is drinking is revving up and ready to party all night. We forced ourselves to stay until midnight and in all honesty it was the wrong decision, it would have been better to simply leave at 10pm and head home happy. Instead, we sat there miserable for two hours which now seems pointless. The key to the story is don’t force yourself to be who you were, because although it sounds great being up until two or three in the morning, you lose out on so much. The fact we had many conversations at the wedding, and we remember them all is wonderful and something we never did before.
If you’re an evening guest, then our advice would be to have an afternoon nap if you can which will bolster you through. But if you’re an all-day guest then take it slow and when you’re tired, be ok to say you’ve enjoyed it but you’re ready to leave. Everyone will be so drunk they won’t even realise you have gone.
House Party or a night in with Friends Sober
Our memories at the end of house parties, whether it’s in our own home or someone else’s has always been vague. The fact you’re self-pouring measures as you chat away, can only lead to blackouts and diabolical hangovers. So, we were quite hesitant about attending a family members house party, wondering if we’d feel triggered.
This was probably the most relaxing event or occasion we have been to sober, because we knew everyone there and had our af drinks and lots of snacks around us. It was a great opportunity to sit and chat, enjoying it all and then being able to drive home and wake up fresh as a daisy on the Sunday morning. Because we were enjoying ourselves, we ended up staying there until 2am, which is rare for us now we are sober. But it goes to show you that if the atmosphere is good, then you’ll want to stay up for much longer than you would expect.
You’ll probably know what we’re going to say now, and that is make sure you plan before you go. Know what you’re drinking and make sure the hosts know in advance that you no longer drink.
Go to a Gig or Festival Sober
If you think about gigs or festivals and don’t immediately envisage alcohol, then you’re in a rare group. Most people head to these events having pre-drank or with the intention of getting drunk and dancing their heart out. But can you enjoy them completely sober? We’ve not experienced a festival yet sober, and to be honest we were never really into that scene. We have gone to two or three gigs and not drank, and as well as actually remembering the whole thing we simply just enjoyed the music. Another bonus is we saved a fortune not buying drinks at the insane prices that most arenas and music venues charge.
We would only suggest going to a festival when you feel strong enough, because you’ll be surrounded by alcohol and drunk people which can be triggering. If you decide to go, then firstly be patient with yourself and realise that you may feel a little uncomfortable at times. If that is the case, then maybe head back to the campsite and take a moment to relax and chill. Another thing to think about is who you’re going to the festival with. Will they support your choice for sobriety and help you if you’re finding it difficult. This advice can be used with gigs, for example you can take yourself away for the main area and just stand in a quiet corner and relax for a while.
Sober New Years Eve
This is very similar to the Christmas festive season, and we again didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as we expected. The key is to make plans and have the people you love around you to celebrate the start of a new year. Then throw in lots of af drinks, snacks, and games, and you have a fantastic New Years party. Again, if you find it triggering, then one new year spent curled up on the couch isn’t the worst thing you could do.
Pour Someone Else an Alcoholic Drink
We were that confident during the festive period that we actually ticked this one-off Christmas Day. Popping open the champagne for Christmas dinner and filling everyone’s glass but our own, which was filled with Nozeco. At first, we didn’t even think about it, we just did it to help out, it was afterwards that we realised how much of an important moment it was in our sobriety.
Sober Hen and Stag Nights
The thought of hen and stag nights send a little shudder through our bodies, but yes we’ve been to one of them too. Thankfully the one we attended wasn’t a weekend in Maga or Benidorm, it was a 90’s night in a local restaurant. This meant we could sit and enjoy the food and a few mocktails, without feeling like we had to join in as others downed shots at the bar. Once everyone finished at the restaurant we headed home to miss out on the messy part. In all honesty at the stage of sobriety we’re currently in, we’d have no problem going on with the group to a club or bar. But we would make sure we drove so that we could leave before people got too drunk and annoying.
Weirdly most sober people tend to feel less self-conscious when everyone else is drunk, but others can find it to be triggering. This is why all the firsts will be a major learning curve for you because you’ll be trying to work out what you feel comfortable with. As with all of the other bucket list items, preparation is the key and learning your boundaries, which will happen over time.
Go to a Nightclub Sober
This is an interesting one, because the first question we’d ask is ‘do you really want to add this to your list?’ We haven’t been to a normal night club yet, but we have been to a sober rave through Flamingo AF and Dry Wave. This experience was immense, not only did we hear the music we loved, see the incredible lighting which added to the atmosphere, but we felt in a safe space to dance as freely as we wanted.
Of course, there will always be downsides and for us it came in the form of awkwardness. Yes, we felt a little out of place at times and although we had intended to go and make new friends, we quickly realised that was impossible because of the noise. This led to wine witch (your inner cravings) kicking in and telling us how much better it would be if we drank alcohol. We hadn’t expected her to kick in, so it was a little alarming, but thankfully we were far enough into sobriety that it didn’t influence us too much. Of course, you will get tired more easily and ache more because you’ve not numbed your brain and body. Also, the music can be a little too loud, but you can always prepare with ear plugs if you need them to dull it down a little. Being sober means you have to find new ways to interact and experience life. You will notice so much more than you ever did when you drank and this can be a good and a bad thing, so it’s worth determining if a nightclub even interests you anymore.
Asked By a Medical Practitioner if you Drink
When you’re new to the sober scene it is the little things that can really make your day, and this has to be one of the top ones. How many times has a doctor asked how much you drink per week, and you’ve had to scramble around in your brain for a number which you think they will accept without judging you. Imagine being asked after becoming sober and the joy of telling the medical practitioner that you don’t consume any units of alcohol. We have filled in medical documents and felt so much pride as we ticked off the zero column.
Attending a Sports Event
Recently we heard that sobriety is much harder for men because of the societal pressures from their friends. This can certainly be found for those attending sporting events, where drinking is almost seen as a ritual. Even watching sports on TV seems to revolve around heading to the pub and drinking your body weight in beer. The first step is to choose your friends wisely and make sure they support your sobriety. You may feel in the beginning of your journey that you want to watch any sports events at home. But once your confidence has grown then pick those supportive friends and head to a pub or even go in person and watch a game. There will be af options available in most places and remember to use the same tips we have outlined throughout this guide. Take time out if you need it or leave, prep with snacks, and tell your friends if you’re struggling.
Alike many of the other items above, just try to relax into the game and enjoy it. Once you really get into it, you probably won’t even notice you’re not drinking, you’ll be too busy celebrating or commiserating.
The minute you give up alcohol you will find that you have more time on your hands and mental clarity. You will no longer find yourself wasting hours sat on the couch gulping glasses of wine, or losing mornings to what feels like an endless hangover. The question is what will you do with all of this spare time? Why not take up a new hobby? We have complied a list of bucket list hobbies to try, and they include travelling, hiking, pottery, learning a language and playing an instrument. So, take a look and see if there is anything on our list which inspires you. Also, you’re saving a small fortune by not drinking, so why not reinvest some of the money back into yourself.
You will find an immense joy in beginning a hobby which we didn’t expect. We currently are learning Spanish via Duolingo, playing the ukelele, meditating and trying British Sign Language.
We’ve written a Beginners Guide to Meditation for those of you looking for practical tools and tips on how to get started.
Start a Sober Podcast
May seem a crazy idea but many of the top sobriety podcasts we listen to have come from people exactly like you, who have gone through the experiences of going sober. They’re not experts or qualified, they just want to give back to the community and support others. If you’ve always been intrigued about starting a podcast and you have lots of opinions and feelings on giving up alcohol, then maybe this is an item for your sober bucket list. Getting started is relatively simple and you don’t need tons of equipment. You can always Google how to start a podcast and you’ll find lots of advice. By helping others and expressing your feelings about the various aspects of your journey, you may find it cathartic.
Probably weird to hope to be pulled over by the police, but for many they have been so afraid of this in the past that being breathalysed and passing is another sign of their sobriety success. It’s a little like the doctor one above, where you can at last be proud and tell others that you are sober.
We’ve been amazed by some of the sober journeys we follow on Instagram, where people have climbed from the depths of alcoholism and found a love of health and fitness. For many the realisation that they have damaged their bodies over the years with booze, makes them recognise that they now want to make bigger changes. For some this can be dietary shifts to veganism and plant-based diets, for others it’s losing weight and building muscle, or it could be focusing on your mental wellness and taking up yoga or meditation. The results we have seen have been astounding and validation that the sober journey is worth it.
Now we wouldn’t even contemplate this in the early stages, because your sole focus is one day at a time and simply not drinking booze. But as the sober days add up, you may start thinking about the main reason you gave up alcohol and that is for your health. Our advice is take baby steps and make small changes with your diet and wellness. Listen to podcasts, read books, and follow people on social media who you enjoy and resonate with.
We had already started our wellness journey by going plant based and taking hour long daily walks, but we have added more mental health practices since going sober. The affect on our health has been incredible, especially because one of us suffers from an auto immune disease. Likewise, we have found our mental health improve overall which has led to newfound confidence.
Attend Sober Meet Ups
Meeting other sober people has been one of the greatest parts of our sober journey. What started as connecting on Facebook pages, ended up as a group of us meeting on a monthly basis in a café. The connection we have to our sober friends is so deep because of all we have been through and how difficult many of us find the early days of being sober.
There are many ways you can do this, but we would recommend the Bee Sober group, which arranges get togethers all over the UK. If you’re not in the UK, then Google sober meet up and see what pops up. You can always join an Alcoholics Anonymous group, but some people feel uncomfortable with this as they don’t class themselves as alcoholics.
Yes, you will feel nervous as you head to your first sober meet up, but that’s completely normal and everyone else probably feels the same way. Once you start to build connections you will enjoy having someone who understands how you feel, because sadly friends and family who drink just won’t get it. What makes a sober meet up easier is the fact that you all have one huge thing in common, being sober! This alone makes it easy to chat because you’ll realise how similar everyone’s experiences are.
Help Others Get Sober
We’ve left this as the last one because it is the most important and an item which provides a sense of inner pride which is hard to describe. Whether it’s someone you know who wants to stop drinking or a new friend you’ve made on social media circles such as the sobriety pages. Your influence over them and the support you give someone to help get sober, will spur you on in your own sobriety. Knowing that what you have experienced could help someone else, makes the difficult days worthwhile. This is why posting on social media pages about your successes, is the perfect way to show people how great being sober is. We call it ‘being the lighthouse’, where you shine so brightly that others will be attracted to you.
Of course, if you’re in the early days then you should focus on your own sobriety, but you will be shocked by the great feeling you get from celebrating others successes. Watching people doing well in their journey will be a constant reminder of why you don’t want to drink alcohol anymore.
Now you have your bucket list ideas here are a few tips to make giving up booze that little bit easier.
- Make sure you have plenty of alcohol-free drinks in, especially in the early days. If you’re going out then ask what af drinks they have available, most venues or bars have mocktails, af beer and cider.
- Snacks will help with those cravings, and sadly they probably won’t be the healthiest options. When you’re in the beginning of your sobriety just throw any thoughts of weight loss out the window. Of course, you’ll save a ton of calories by not drinking, but the priority is to get through each day without consuming alcohol.
- As our friends on Sober Awkward say ‘feel the awkward and do it anyway’. Yes, there are occasions when you’re going to feel nervous, or anxious or just plain awkward. The reality is that this is a totally normal emotion for the situation you’re in, you’ve just numbed it for years with alcohol. Sobriety is the time to retrain your feelings and grow confidence in social situations. This is why it may be wiser in the early days to not do too much and leave the socialising for when you feel stronger.
- Be choosy who you go out with! This has been a huge revelation to us, because people we thought were awesome on a night out can actually be quite the opposite when you’re sober. It’s crazy how much you miss when you’re also drinking, we were shocked by how nasty most people are when they drink.
- Be ok with saying ‘No’, because if you don’t want to go out, that’s ok. It may be a certain social event or person that you find triggering, and essentially your sobriety is more important than any one thing.
- Go home when you’re tired and feel done, don’t be foolish like us and try and stay out as long as possible. You can ruin the experience trying to push through it, and again part of the acceptance of sobriety is that we may not be able to stay up all hours, but there are a hell of a lot of other positives which makes it more beneficial to be sober. When we drank, we would have one get together or meal with friends booked in that weekend, because we knew the rest of it had to be left for the hangover. Now we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday booked in and make the most of the precious amount of free time we have on a weekend.
- Join the sober community, because as we have stated throughout this bucket list, you will be shocked at how much they help you through the early days. They will cheer for you every day you are sober and guide you when you need it.
- Identify your triggers so you can try and prevent a relapse in the future. This could be internal feelings such as stress, or external triggers like people or places.
Hopefully this has given you a good start in creating your own personal sober bucket list. You may find that you have more items to add now, or as you progress through your journey. But that is the best part of a bucket list, you can always add more and watch those choices enrich your life. We wish you luck with your sobriety and be proud of the decision you have made, because we think you are amazing!