Since I have given up drinking I have noticed there have been a few people who have asked me:
“How did you do it?”
Most people either admire me, think I am completely crazy, or think I am now quite boring.
I am not bothered by how I am perceived as I know I am making the right choice for me.
I have spent so many nights out, had so many shots of this and bottles of that, had so many tortuous hangovers, that finally I have decided enough is enough.
Giving up drinking for me has been the biggest catalyst for change in so many areas of my life. I hope that I can encourage and motivate others to consider taking a break from drinking or thinking differently about their relationship with alcohol.
Recently my experience with drinking has completely changed. I felt like I was a part of a collective narcolepsy; I felt oblivious to my reality, and it seemed I was not alone. Mostly because there are a lot of unhappy people out there. And a lot of people use alcohol to forget their problems, or at least put them on hold for the time being. Trust me, I know all about this feeling!
I lost all of my family in four short years, had relationship breakdowns and had numerous meltdowns. Debilitating moments when I couldn’t work, couldn’t face the world, sometimes couldn’t even do more than lie on the ground and cry. Yes it was that bad. Alcohol was a very good friend during this time. I would drink to get drunk, to forget, to escape my over-thinking and never ending internal chatter, and to temporarily feel better about my very bleak situation.
But now I am emerging as a different person, renewed, and metamorphosing into a healthier happier and smarter woman. And I really love these changes. Here are some tips to help you on your way:
1. Become very good friends with soda water. I love it. And there are no calories. I add a slice of lemon or if you want something sweeter choose any cordial. My current favourites are blackcurrant and peach iced tea.
2. At the start, avoid going to places where you know people will be drinking. Your resolve may not be so strong in the early days. I actually tried to give up a few times, and lapsed back to daily drinking and binging. Removing yourself from temptation will help.
3. Go to bed early. If your in Bed by 9 or 10 p.m., you will naturally wake up early and feel quite refreshed. Your sleeping patterns will improve and become more regular, because guess what? They don’t blow out every weekend til 4 a.m. due to that massive night out on the turps! I now wake before my alarm and feel refreshed by 6 a.m. most mornings. What a change!
4. Remember books? I love reading. I can read five books at once. I have a thirst for knowledge and I still want more. Go to your local library, join up—it’s free. Take out all sorts of random books, anything that interests you. And grab some on giving up drinking, overcoming addiction and any other self help book you think might be useful. There is so much good stuff out there! And it will really help. And now you can read before bed because your not smashed and all those words on the page actually make sense!
5. Get back into sports. Swim, run, walk, join a gym, join a club, go to a dance class, do a yoga class. Find some physical sweaty activity that you like doing, or think you might like if it’s been awhile since you broke a sweat. Try rollerskating, remember how fun that used to be? And guess what? You can go out at night and drive there because your not tanked by 6:30 p.m. anymore!
6. Join supportive groups like “Hello Sunday Morning.” They really helped me at the start as I realised there were other people out there like me who wanted to live their lives without alcohol. I don’t know too many people who can live without alcohol to be honest, which is kind of sad, right?
7. Think about who you spend your time with. This might be tricky and brutal, but if you are hanging out with friends who only want to go to the pub to socialise it might be time to mix it up and make some new healthier friends. New friends who want to do activities that don’t involve the pub or an alcohol setting. Trust me they do exist!
8. My final tip: believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it! Believe you are worth making these changes and becoming a better person and that you really do have the power and self control to say no to drinking. For me, once I had made the switch in my mindset, I was done. To be honest in the first month, I really only felt like a drink two or three times, and mostly this was when I was in a social setting like a bar or fancy restaurant. So in the early days just remove yourself from all the places you would associate with having a drink. That’s my tip!
Here are a few benefits you will gain from giving up alcohol, just to help persuade you a little further:
1. You will lose weight. Guaranteed. I have lost six kilograms in six weeks, so far! There is so much sugar in alcohol, I was knocking back sweet ciders and Diet Cokes and Malibus like a thirsty backpacker in the desert! And piling on the weight. My excess fat is definitely starting to fall off.
2. You will have more money. In fact if you spend $200 a week on drinking, on average, some I know would be double that just on a weekend, that equates to $10,400 a year. Enough money to take an around the world trip! Or upgrade your car, or do whatever you want really! Guess what? You can actually afford to travel overseas, you just have to eliminate one little pesky habit!
3. You get smarter. Seriously. My brain was so mushy and fuzzy most days. I would forget words, people’s names, and just felt like my brain was functioning really poorly. I feel so much better in brain health, my memory is better, my recall sharper, and look I am writing a blog now! That’s pretty smart!
4. You will have more energy. Oodles and noodles of energy. I am naturally very energetic but I experienced a huge change when I eliminated alcohol. I wake in the morning and want to get outside for a run. How annoying am I?
5. You will be more motivated. Alcohol is a depressant and man was I depressed! It really does have a way of keeping you down and making you feel like a sluggish, inactive, vegetating sloth.
6. You will eat better. When you are more energetic, you exercise more, then you want to eat better because you exercised and you don’t want to spoil all that hard work. And then you don’t binge out on kebabs and pizzas and chips and other high fat foods after a massive night out slaughtering yourself. Because you are tucked up in bed sleeping soundly sober!
7. You will become a more interesting person. Suddenly you have more free time on your hands, and with all this energy and ability to drive because you are not drinking means you can take more day trips away and explore more of your area. I have trips planned overseas, interstate, camping, road trips, day trips, hot air ballooning, boat trips. Now that all sounds pretty interesting right? You too can plan amazing activities and explore your natural surroundings. The key is get back to nature, and enjoy parks, beaches, forests, lakes, anything in nature really. It’s all pretty awesome and really makes you feel amazing.
I hope that my article has helped you think about drinking and helped to inspire you, if you are deciding to take a break from the bottle. Even changing your habits to reduce intake is a win. Learning to have a more positive relationship with alcohol is awesome. For me ruling it out entirely was necessary for the time being; I hope that you too can be inspired to make positive changes in your life and live your best life possible.
Bonus: One more reason to detox.
Author: Anita Ozolins
Editor: Travis May