Your Sober Year with Kate Baily


My guest this week is the founder of Love Sober, Kate Baily.  She’s an author, a sober coach and a podcaster.  She founded Love Sober with Mandy Manners to support women who are concerned about their drinking.  She works hard to raise awareness around what women need to not only get sober but to stay sober – and to love being sober!

In this Episode

  • Kate shared her own story which was an interesting one – she was always health conscious but determined to find a way to make alcohol fit into her lifestyle even though she knew she had no off switch
  • She knew deep down she was using alcohol to cope and in fact when she did try to stop she could feel her anxiety ramping up and she’d feel unable to cope
  • Like many of us, Kate found herself Googling “Am I an alcoholic?” at 3 am which led her to a sobriety community
  • Once she had plugged into a sober community she felt like she’d been thrown a lifeline
  • That made her realise she was not alone in this and there were many other people just like her
  • She actually quit drinking for a year but then started again – with hindsight she can see that she just didn’t have the toolkit – all her bad habits were coming back
  • She was stressed with no boundaries and not enough self-care
  • We agreed that she had achieved her first year by using willpower alone and had not done the deep work of tackling her limiting beliefs and underlying trauma
  • Her mindset around alcohol had not really shifted which meant she still believed that it served her in some way
  • As we’re always saying at Tribe Sober, there is so much more to recovery than “not drinking” – we have to do the work and build the toolkit to make our sobriety sustainable
  • Kate explained that as we go into our second year of sobriety we often have a dopamine dip which means that it’s quite common for people to go back to drinking after they’ve had a sober year
  • That fact underlines our experience that we really need a project to keep our happy chemicals triggered so that we can thrive in our sobriety and make it a permanent lifestyle
  • So Kate returned to drinking but, one day, she had a major insight that changed everything for her
  • She realised that using alcohol was causing such a deep disconnect within herself that she couldn’t “find” herself, comfort herself or act with self-compassion
  • Like many of us, Kate had to learn to love and comfort herself
  • This insight led to her second day one which was back in 2014 and she has been alcohol-free since then
  • Her second attempt at sobriety was quite different. She got heavily into self-care, she did a sobriety program and lots of yoga.  She trained as a coach herself to increase her own sense of meaning and purpose
  • Kate explored the “tools of living” – self-compassion, gratitude, and connection
  • She realised that her sobriety was actually the foundation of her self-development work
  • She was out and proud and blogged about sobriety under her own name
  • It’s interesting how we evolve in our sobriety – personally, I felt embarrassed and apologetic in early sobriety (dreading questions and hoping nobody spotted my AF drink) but these days I love talking about sobriety – it’s a bit like the #dontgetmestarted that Kate mentioned!
  • I’m now a bit like that joke – how do you know when someone is sober? – they’ll tell you within 5 minutes of meeting you!
  • Just like me, Kate loves a reframe and came up with this awesome one – instead of saying, “How do I stay sober every day?”, rather ask, “How do I look after myself every day?”
  • We agreed on the power of a sober community and how we need to be reassured that it really is worth all the hard work to get sober – people further down the road than us will inspire us and show us that it really is worth it
  • Kate called those sober people the “guiding lights” – they can get you through the sticky bits by saying “when I was at that stage this is what helped me”
  • Sobriety has enabled Kate to rediscover the joy in her life – the sparkle is back
  • Her podcast has been part of her recovery – a way to process and affirm
  • We agreed that our years of sobriety have been an ongoing learning process – an ever-expanding toolkit as Kate calls it
  • We discussed the “rise of the wine bar” in the UK in the 90s and how there seemed to be a link between that and the “wine lake” which had occurred due to the overproduction of wine due to EU subsidies
  • The first wine bar in the UK was Davys that launched in 1964 but gradually they became more and more popular – seen as sophisticated places for groups of women to meet for a glass of wine – women who would never really go to a pub
  • Wine drinking was promoted as an aspirational lifestyle choice for women – a fact that makes us both angry these days as we are well aware of the damage it has done to women’s health
  • We thought it was all so elegant but in fact, someone said that “wine is the Special Brew of the middle classes” – if you’re not familiar with Special Brew it’s the can of extra strong beer that you often see homeless alcoholics clutching!
  • While we were ranting we also had a go at Drinkaware – which describes itself as an independent charity that aims to help people make better choices about their drinking
  • Drinkaware is actually sponsored by the alcohol industry and contains endless advice about how to moderate but not a word about how quitting completely is the healthiest choice!
  • I would spend hours on Drinkaware working out how many units I could drink – which of course just kept me trapped in the trying (and failing) to moderate for ten years!
  • As a journalist, Kate wrote an article saying that the UK had a drinking problem – comparing the reaction we get when we stop – and comparing it to the encouragement we get when we stop smoking
  • I love an analogy so Kate and Mandy’s book called “Love Your Sober Year” was just up my street: they take the year’s seasons and link them to our sobriety journey…

SPRING – huge growth – hell yes! – up for anything – that must be why our Sober Spring Challenge is so popular – planting the seeds of hope, starting to see green shoots and feeling better
SUMMER is maintenance but Kate also calls this the “re-ignite” phase – our sobriety should be dynamic rather than static as we do the work and embark on a journey of self-discovery

AUTUMN – release and refine – after the self-discovery journey we can drop what we don’t need – and this might be the period when we review our friendship circle and drop some of those old drinking buddies

WINTER – rest and rebirth – empty field, death of alcohol, just like the farmer looking at his field we must have faith that something wonderful will grow

  • At Tribe Sober, we encourage this journey of self-discovery by offering our members many different types of activities and therapies to try out
  • I love this journey that Kate and Mandy have plotted – its SO much more exciting than the Groundhog Day that our drinking puts us in – we actually get to evolve in our lives – rather than getting stuck
  • It’s about capturing the gifts and challenges of each season– about adjusting our self-care and tools to each season so that we thrive in each season
  • These days Kate sees self-care as self-leadership – as she says it’s so empowering when we can meet our own needs
  • She talked about the value of journaling – how it’s about gathering thoughts – setting your intentions and then reflecting on what’s working and adjusting accordingly – her book includes journal prompts
  • Kates’s advice to people worried about their drinking is to join a sober community and get some knowledge. Start working on a mind-shift so that you see alcohol differently
  • At Tribe Sober we like to tell people who are worried about their drinking that they don’t have a problem – they have an opportunity – to improve their health, increase their happiness and change their lives in ways they cannot imagine
  • Kate mentioned her 3-month group coaching course which is starting soon
  • Here is the link to Kate’s course 
  • Her book is called Love Your Sober Year by Kate Baily and Mandy Manners – available on Amazon

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The 11 Year Fact

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