Giving up drinking alcohol for blocks of time
It can be done and I love to do it. No one to be shy at the bar, I have always enjoyed a drink or 3, however I noticed that since I turned 40 how I react to alcohol and the effects it has on me have changed. So I started giving up alcohol for periods of time. One month, five months, seven months, a year and then…
Between October 7th 2014 and June 6th 2016 I didn’t drink a single drop of alcohol. It was a wonderful experience. 20 months of living a life without alcohol was a real eye opener and it has revolutionised my relationship with booze.
Why 20 months? Well, my goal was to achieve a year without drinking and after a year had passed, I genuinely could see no reason to start drinking again. So I didn’t. But when I got to 20 months, I got curious. Did I need to stay off it completely? Would my bad drinking habit immediately come back if I did drink again? Would my body react to alcohol in the same way after such a long break? So I had a drink.
Hmmm a little disappointing!
If I am honest, it was all a bit of a disappointment. I had got to the stage where I could dance all night, have lots of laughs with friends and I even got over the whole ‘having sober sex thing’ so alcohol didn’t really add anything in. I didn’t need it in the same way anymore.
So, here are my top 20 things I learnt in 20 months of no alcohol…all you too could experience if you give it a go and give your body a break for a while.
1. You can live a life alcohol free!
Most obvious really, but just a couple of years ago I would not have believed that I could have lived a life without booze for more than a few days, let alone almost 2 years! It’s amazing how a change in mind-set can be so powerful and result in such a surprising turn of events. I saw going without alcohol as a really positive thing and that made it easier to get started and stick with it for so long.
2. You get great sleep
It doesn’t happen straight away but within the first 10 days I was experiencing for the first time, in many years, maybe even decades, great quality sleep. The type of sleep that you wake up from feeling refreshed and re-charged…no really it can be achieved! Let me tell you, great sleep is the most fabulous luxury you can give yourself!
3. You gain a new kind of energy
When you’re not drip feeding your body with a poison on a regular basis, your body has stacks more energy. You’re getting lots of sleep as well, so energy levels rise. You will find yourself looking for ways to burn the extra energy in just over a week of cutting it out. 3 months and you’ll be bouncing around feeling like a child who’s had too much sugar!
4. You become a real morning person
Maybe it’s better quality sleep? Perhaps it’s not feeling groggy every morning? I don’t know, but I know for sure that a life without booze certainly means I get more out of my mornings than ever before. Regularly naturally waking about 5.30-6.00 am in the morning, most days I get up and do some work at my desk in my PJs before the children awake. My mind is most active then So I can get stuff done. If you are productive at the start of the day, you generally have a great day!.
5. You have the ability to be fit
Stop the clocks! Yup, you heard me. I am a fit person. A few times a week I swim train with my local swim club. Walking for 3 miles in the forest twice a week is not unusual and generally am pretty active. Before I gave up drinking ANY kind of exercise was a chore. Now I feel weird and actually MISS exercise if I don’t do something at least every couple of days. THAT was a massive change! No alcohol in your system really boosts your body’s ability to exercise properly and you’ll enjoy it more too.
6. You get properly tired
“What?” I hear you cry “I thought you had loads of energy?” Yes I do and that’s all part of it. I get a great start on my day and fit in so much more. I exercise far more frequently, in fact I am the fittest I have been certainly since having my children. So at the end of the day I do actually feel physically tired. Your body is operating as it should do and so I you hear it when it tells you that you need to sleep and re-charge. You fall asleep because you are actually tired and not just drunk!
7. Your life will have less drama
Got to tell you, this is such a relief! Alcohol breeds anxiety and stress, even if only on a small level at first but if you drink heavily regularly you can find that things ‘get to you’. So what do we do? We find when we get wound up about something we say stuff like…”urgh I am so having a drink when I get home”. So here’s the thing. Isn’t that just the most perfect excuse to have a drink? It’s a bad self-perpetuating cycle. The alcohol makes you more anxious, so you have a drink to feel calmer, which is actually adding to the anxiety.
8. If you are a parent, you’ll become a better one.
OK, for the record, I was never a bad mum. My children have always come first, were never in any danger and I have always loved being a mum. However, I have got to be honest here, I am a better mum now. I have more energy, am more tolerant, have more patience and can be more attentive. Anyone who has ever had a hangover and had to be in charge of children would have to say the same. A hungover parent, is just not cutting it in the ‘parent of the year’ nominations.
9. You’ll be able to drive more!
I have always loved my cars, really must have a go at rally driving sometime! When you drink regularly you are having to constantly think about not being able to drive. So it was never as much fun. Take the booze out of the question and my petrol head is back. Sober, you can drive, anywhere, anytime and never have to worry about being over the limit in the morning when you’re on your way to work. You can go out in the evening and never have to wait for a taxi again. Wonderful, really!
10. You get more ‘arsed’ about doing the little things.
Ha! This is a great one and it kind of sneaks up on you. There is a huge difference between jumping out of bed in the morning and opening your eyes and just letting out a sigh over the thought of the start of the day. It used to take me a good hour to wake up properly and start to feel ‘in the game’. So there was so much I couldn’t be ‘arsed’ to do in the mornings. Things like making the bed, folding up clothes, picking up the shoes, putting on make-up before I shot out of the door. You’ll find you are far more able to be ‘arsed’ about the little things now and they make your world a better place.
11. You make decisions faster and with more confidence.
Having a clear head and no excuses to hide behind a good drink makes you a brilliant decision maker. So many times in the past I have procrastinated for too long over something…or not enough and made bad decisions. Let’s face it, pretty much everyone you meet can tell at least one story about a time they made a bad decision after they’d had a few drinks! It’s more than that, it’s easy to decide to have a drink and forget about something rather than face a situation and make a decision. A clear head, a ‘sleep on it’ sober decision is a far better one in the long run. You can be confident that you are doing the right thing. Even better, if it does go wrong, you are better equipped to make the next decision.
12. You are actually good company when sober.
Hey, we all have those little insecurities right? Once you get comfortable with not drinking you get more confident with who you are as well. No masks to hide behind and you know what, I like who I found. You’ll like yourself more too. I thought I was only fun after a few drinks, but it turns out, I’m good company! I’m a better listener too and I like that very much.
13.You can dance when sober.
Yup, I may not be scoring a ‘10 from Len’ every time I hit a dance floor, but who cares, I am able to have fun and enjoy jiggling about to music at a party. Here’s the thing, it is something I really like to do. It happens far more often now as I seem to like to crank up the music when in the kitchen making tea and have a little boogie as I cook, hey why not! For so many years I found myself saying “Oh I will in a minute, just one more drink.” I actually believed it was because I needed a little dutch courage, now I know, it was nothing more than just an excuse to have one more drink…that was clearly my priority!
14. You’re not an alcoholic.
I realised that I had developed some bad drinking habits, but wondered if I was actually an alcoholic at one point. Maybe this is you right now? But I am categorically able to say that I am not an alcoholic. After all, I decided to stop, really just decided to stop. Seeing alcohol for what it was and how it just did not serve me well made it easier for me to just stop. “Oh you stupid woman, it’s not that easy” I hear some of you cry. Well I’m afraid, my lovely, it is. Like any goal really, if you want it enough and make the decision to stop, you can. Don’t forget, you have a choice.
If you have become fully dependent on alcohol then there is a physical situation that has to be resolved either with the help of a rehab centre or your doctor, so if you think this is you then do seek medical help…now.
15. Being sober is the new black.
Hmmm, in reality we are not quite there yet. However, my new lifestyle choice certianly attracted more people into my life that don’t drink alcohol. It’s not a big deal to most of them, their love of a sport or drive to achieve a business or lifestyle goal is bigger than their desire to drink alcohol. Simple. I was not alone, there are loads of people out there who regularly take long breaks from alcohol or just don’t drink at all. How fabulous, I just didn’t see it before.
16. You will take action on your dreams and goals more.
I’ve always been goal driven (I can feel my husband and mum sighing in agreement here lol) and I have achieved some wonderful things I am very proud of. But now I tend to be less afraid of taking action. I have goals and dreams that scare the wotsits out of me. Goodness, imagine if I actually achieved some of them! It’s one thing to dream, but unless you take inspired action, those dreams cannot come true. So I can and I will, watch me 😉 You are better equipped to do this without alcohol or a hangover!
17. Wonderful sober sex is a real thing!
If you’ve been a regular drinker for a long time you may have be in for a bit of a surprise! Be honest, when was the last time you had fully sober sex. (hang-over sex doesn’t count). Seriously, I bet it’s been a while. You will notice the difference. All I will say is it is great. Try it.
18. You’ll find out who your real friends are
When you stop drinking you may find a little resistance from those around you. My advice is to just get on with what you want to be doing. If they have a problem with your lifestyle choices then they will do one of two things…they will support you and not make a big deal of it OR they will drop you off their social scene. It’s an interesting scenario, but it does make you think a little about who you are choosing to spend your time with and why.
19. You save a ton of money!
Seriously drinking alcohol regularly gets expensive, especially if you have a taste for fine wines, premium ciders or malt whiskeys. Work it out for yourself, how much would just one month off the sauce save you…don’t forget to add in the cost of those taxis you are booking as well
20. You have more time
My favourite. It’s just a fact that with a clearer head, oooodles more energy and no longer needing to write of a half or even a full day due to having a hangover, you are going to have more time; especially, at the weekends. You will find yourself doing so much more with your time too. It’s one of the best bi-products of not drinking alcohol.
So, over to you. Have you ever made a lifestyle choice to drop the booze for a bit and give yourself a break. Even 30 days can make all the difference to your health.
Take the 30 day challenge?
Aren’t you just a little curious about what you might feel like if you didn’t drink just a month? If you fancy taking up the challenge I am launching a free 30 challenge to help you stop drinking alcohol for a month.
If you are interested in joining in, then please sign up below and I will email you with the details. I will be running one from January 1st for the whole of January.