Hey there, Let's talk about drinking. As you may already know, I made the decision to cut alcohol out of my 2022. Alcohol is an interesting topic. It can be hard to talk about without sounding narky or preachy. So firstly, let it be known that I hold no judgement towards people who drink alcohol, heck, I have had my fair share and realistically will continue to do so (to some capacity) in the future. However, when I broached the topic on social media, an overwhelming amount of people wanted to know more. Wonderfully, people are starting to question their relationship with alcohol. So if you care, read on and we will go back to the start. The Back Story I've always LOVED a party. Anyone who has known me from my late teens probably has a little smirk on their face as they read this. I am an extrovert and gain so much energy from socialising and meeting new people. In our culture, alcohol usually accompanies such events. I was never a 'have a glass with dinner' type of girl, I was a 'binge drink on the weekend' type of girl. Back in early 2016 Guy (my now husband) and I started dating (cute). I was in my mid 20's and Guy his late 20's. Guy is incredibly dedicated on the path of self development and decided he wanted to be healthier. He chose to experiment by taking a year off the booze. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I decided to jump on board. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard. We had to learn to set boundaries, dance even when sober, say no, and at times, miss out. But it was much easier doing it together than it would have been alone. We both read an incredible book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace which helped to reframe our psychology around Alcohol. (Highly recommend for anyone interested). Some things that we learnt during that time:
You don't need alcohol to have fun. Whilst drinking can be fun, it is absolutely possible to go out with friends and not drink alcohol. I once caught myself completely sober on a nightclub dance floor at 5am.
Alcohol makes you do dumb things. Every stupid thing I have ever done (and there are plenty) has been under the influence of alcohol. Spending time around drunk people whilst you are sober is extremely illuminating.
There is a 7th day of the week, Sundays. Discovering Sundays was probably the most influential for me. Having an entire day of the week to do the things that made me feel good and productive is one of the main reasons I continue to reduce my alcohol consumption. Keeping in mind, at the time of this experiment I was in my early 20's and binge drinking on a Saturday night was a non negotiable.
Alcohol and junk food are in cahoots. I couldn't believe how much better I was eating when I was never drunk or hung over. Resultantly, my physical health was better, Guy dropped a heap of weight and we felt great. "You're glowing!" was the standard comment.
Peer pressure is real. The most challenging part wasn't the no drinking, it was the explaining and justifying to others why we weren't drinking. "As if you're not drinking tonight!?", "What's wrong, did something happen!?", "Just have a drink!", "I could never do that, you're crazy." Oddly, others became threatened by our choices and felt the need to justify their own. As mentioned, we never held/hold any judgement towards those who drink but it became clear that really, people were judging themselves.
Eventually, we started drinking again but my habits had changed. My desire for alcohol was significantly reduced and to this day it's not often I have a drink in hand. I consider myself lucky to have experienced this shift. When I do drink, it's because I really feel like it. I weigh up the pro's and con's of a hang over (which unfortunately I now can't escape after one drink), I assess my mental health and what I have on in the coming week. If the stars align, I'll go for it. Towards the end of 2021, Guy noticed old habits creeping back in and decided to cut the booze for 2022. I know how much easier it is to do it together, so I've jumped back on board. But this time, there is a difference... The problem with black and white or all or nothing thinking, is that it can cause pendulum swings. Usually, when you really want something but don't let yourself have it, you want it more. Hello, binge! When it comes to getting healthy, loosing weight, reducing alcohol, or exercising more, we should make changes that we are willing to maintain for life. Otherwise, our will power dries out and we end up worse off than when we began. Drawing a line in the sand is helpful (and some people may absolutely need to do this with alcohol, it is an addictive substance), it increases will power capacity for other things, but at this point in time, I personally don't intend to never touch a drink again... Black and white thinking has gotten me into trouble in the past. For me, and my particular circumstances and habits, learning to live in the grey area is a valuable skill worth practicing. Thus, if something pops up and I really really really feel like a drink, maybe I will let myself have it. And in that case, maybe I practice having one, not four. Maybe i'll never really feel like a drink anyway, who knows! So, maybe you find this interesting, maybe you just think I'm boring or crazy, but it's food for thought. If you're 'sober curious', I'll invite you to take some time to consider your values. The key to a successful life is value driven decisions. So question, what is most important to you? And then run your current drinking habits against these values and see where they fit in. They might have a place or they might not. It is completely individual. But whatever you do, do it with intention. And if you don't take my word for all of this, then hear it from Will Smith, because everything sounds better from Will Smith.<