Christmas Eve 2016, I was at home with a friend drinking a delicious gin and tonic. I paused for the briefest of moments and thought what if I quit for a year? What would happen? Would I be more or less happy? Would I catch fewer random bugs? Would my wellbeing improve?
And that was it. Decision made, I enjoyed my last gin and tonic and on Christmas Day 2016 my year started.
Since my decision, Sober Curious has become a thing. Around 22% of women in the UK don’t drink alcohol, there are mindful drinking movements and many books on the topic including Sober Curious.
This is what I learned.
People were supportive when I told them I had quit booze for a year.
This was a huge learning for me. When I told people that I had decided not to drink for a year they were high-fiving me. Seriously, everyone said, I wish I could do that! They wholeheartedly supported me.
My previous efforts to not drink were not well received. I would say “I’m not drinking tonight” which was normally followed by friends or dates saying oh go on just have one, and me saying yes.
Dating wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and I made fewer bad decisions!
Dating is tough at the best of times, but dating and not drinking whole other level of challenge. I am not saying it was easy, but it also wasn’t that difficult and got easier over time.
It was simple: I was honest upfront that I wasn’t drinking for a year, and was fine if they wanted to drink. If someone wasn’t comfortable with this then why would I want to date them anyway?
I made fewer bad decisions! Fewer second or third dates. Booze clouds judgment and by not drinking I was able to really listen to my gut and make a decision as to whether I would really want to see this person again.
I rarely got sick. My immune system was doing a happy dance.
My friends still love me and want to spend time with me.
No one is going to want to hang with me, they will think I am boring! Complete opposite of that was my inner mini me freaking out telling me a nonsense story.
My friends love me, it is why they are my friends and they take me as I am. They, of course, weren’t even surprised I had quit for a year. They supported me all the way making sure at dinners and events there was a fun non-alcoholic beverage for me to enjoy.
I rarely got sick. My immune system was doing a happy dance.
This was the reason it all started and, yes, my immune system was doing its own happy dance. My body was able to look after me better because I was looking after it.
I got two bugs in 12 months which lasted a total of four days. I traveled a lot over those 12 months and the first bug was because I ate something I was intolerant to (by accident) and the second a simple cold which I slept my way through.
Alcohol depletes and depresses my immune system fact.
By not drinking I saw my overall health and well-being improve. My skin looked great, I had more energy, slept really well, had stable emotions, and was able to rise early each and every day. My life was simply better.
I am happier without alcohol.
I am not saying I will never drink again ever in my life, but overall I am generally happier without alcohol. This does not mean I don’t have rough days with self-doubt about being a solopreneur or get down and need a duvet day. It does mean that I bounce back faster, don’t have regrets about what I did, or didn’t do whilst drinking.
Am I sometimes tempted of course but I know that for me not drinking is right for right now. My health and well-being mental and physical is my priority and booze for me takes away from that.
It may not be for everyone but I feel so much better for my year without booze.
My hacks for booze-free nights out
- Put your sparkling water or beverage of choice in a wine glass; your brain will think you aren’t missing out on the party.
- Be organized, take a drink with you to any social gathering.
- Be clear with people: I am not drinking for (insert length of time). They will respect you for it.
- Research bars that have non-alcoholic options like kombucha and Seedlip — yes, they exist! And they are growing!
- Know you are going to waken hangover-free!
What I did after my year of not drinking
After 14 months of not drinking, I did another experiment. How would my body react to alcohol?
I started gently with one gin and tonic and I was fine. No ill effects, no hangover; it was rather delicious.
A while later I had dinner with a friend and had two glasses of red wine (small glasses). At the time very enjoyable, the next day, however, I had anxiety off the charts and I rarely get anxious. I was questioning everything in my life whereas the day before I had been absolutely fine with my life trajectory. I felt like crap, had a headache, was queasy, and it took me two days to recover! Two days!
Months after this I was with friends I hadn’t seen for close to six months and we all got together for dinner. I had one gin and tonic, just one and the next day I picked up a virus, which led me to bed and multiple visits to acupuncture. After a week, I got some Chinese herbs which cured me but I missed out on a lot of fun with friends, which really sucked.
From those three short forays into the world of drinking, I simply realized it was not for me, that I am happier and healthier living an alcohol-free life.
I am not preaching to anyone, I have had many years of fun where I have danced and drank until the wee hours of the morning but right now I am happily sober. Abstaining is also easy for me. Giving something up completely is easier than having a drink once a week. That is how I form habits and rituals, I am an all or nothing kinda person.
If you are thinking of giving up booze try the “I am not drinking for a month or year” with friends and see how they react you may be pleasantly surprised and feel pretty amazing at the same time.
There are also plenty of alcohol-free options out there my personal favorite at the moment is Seedlip, a fabulous British company distilled non-alcoholic spirits so you can still be a grown up.
Whatever you choose, I hope these insights have helped.
I am looking forward to an alcohol-free New Year and wishing you all a fabulous 2019 wherever you are in the world.
First published on https://wildorange.co
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