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Dear Sober Abbi: Working For The Weekend

This woman looks like she's definitely had a bad day. Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty

Dear Sober Abbi is a millennial’s celebration of sobriety beginning in 2016. As of this post, Abbi is 137 days alcohol-free. She’ll answer your questions about navigating social settings, crises, and pretty much anything else if you comment below.

If you're anything like me, you've had weeks where you are A) sitting in a 3 p.m. meeting that's dragging on, and you're envisioning how much happier you'd be with a margarita B) feeling stressed to the max, or C) stumbling across your home's threshold, happy to be free from a terrible, horrible, no good, very rotten day. It's not uncommon for a lot of people to unwind with a glass of wine or top off their evening with a night cap – something I, of course, have given up.

So, today's post is dedicated to taking an alcohol-free approach to unwinding.

Q: What do you do when you've had a rough day? These do happen, certainly. I was never really a "steady" drinker before (that is, having a glass of wine every evening), but I can definitely attest to the fact that there are some nights I'd like to just relax with some Moscato. I cannot tell a lie.

My solution for this issue is to do something else that brings me some joy. Some days, this translates into me going for a night jog. Other days, it's me baking myself some cookies. It could even be as simple as reading a good book. I think it's important to not deprive yourself of things you love or things you like to do. At the beginning of the year, I'd given up alcohol AND sugar AND junk food; I'm much happier now if I can treat myself occasionally.

Q: What do you do when your coworkers want to go out for a drink? Without fail, I have a coworker who offers me beer every time we go out for our weekly trivia night. And, every time, I politely decline the beverage. It's okay to go out. You may choose to avoid the environment altogether, and that's totally fine – but I don't let the not-drinking-part keep me from anything I want to do. Even with coworkers, I would order my go-to bar drink, and have a good time.

Again, if this is something that you would struggle with, try suggesting a location where there'd be something else for you to do besides drinking. It could be a place with darts, pool, a concert, great desserts – it may help you to feel at ease.

The very hardest part of giving up alcohol, I've found, is having to turn down prime booze (i.e., not my usual $9.97 bottle of Sutter Home) at an open bar, which, for me, usually comes in conjunction with a work function. I was recently at one of the nicest restaurants in Birmingham for a function where I was offered my choice of any cocktail and any liquor. You will be tested, friends – and free, top-shelf liquor will be hardest to turn down. My rock in that situation was a friend who knew I was staying sober, and who went ahead and quipped up with a, "She'll take a Diet Coke!"

Q: How do you stay accountable when no one's watching? I have a few ways that have helped me in keeping with my sober journey. First of all, I have you. You wouldn't believe how motivating it is to know that other people are following along with you, and you can't let those guys down. For you, maybe this means writing about your journey or even posting the occasional note about it on Facebook.

Secondly, tell a lot of people you're close to. I've told so many people that I'm sober that I wouldn't be able to just have a cocktail with friends without someone knowing that I'm breaking my pact. If you're the only one who knows, it's really easy to talk yourself out of it. Tell people that will A) keep you on the straight and narrow B) talk you out of having a cocktail on a really bad day and C) be willing to stick up for you in a social situation if your choice is questioned.

Obviously, when no one's watching, it's a bit harder. I think my answer for this is to remind yourself why you're on a sober journey. Chances are, it's not "just because." Maybe it's for a health reason, or for someone you love, or as an example to someone else. And, once you're reminded, spoil yourself with something else you love. You're doing great.

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