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 catch less random bugs and feel better overall?
And that was it, the decision made, I enjoyed my last gin and tonic and on Christmas Day 2016 my year started.
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 less 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 less bad decisions. 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.
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 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 wellbeing 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 wellbeing 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.