In late 2018, I stopped drinking and didn’t have a single drop of booze for seven months. This post was written a few months in, so it outlines the benefits of no alcohol for 3 months. I thoroughly recommend having a long break, as you’ll see in this post. Read on to find out more.
The end of the year is a strange time to quit drinking, probably not the easiest at all. Yet, if you want to see if you can sink or swim without the booze, it’s the ideal occasion. So many temptations, everywhere.
I’ve survived Christmas, New Years and my 30th birthday without having any alcohol whatsoever. This is a cause for celebration in itself.
I thought I’d sit down and pen a few reflections, partly to work through thoughts I’ve been having over the last few months, but also for the sake of anyone who’s wanting to take a break from drinking and doesn’t quite know where to start.
I hope this article is helpful.
The Benefits of No Alcohol for 3 Months
In December 2018, I went to a Christmas party and decided I’d just have a single glass of sparkling wine, normally my kryptonite.
A strange thing happened. I took a sip and a realisation dawned upon me – I don’t want this.
Finally, something had shifted, after over a year of trying to say no. I enjoyed the rest of the night, woke up at a respectable time and continued on with my day.
I haven’t had a drink since then.
Why give up the booze?
I’m all or nothing. I needed to get it out of my system, change a few core habits and learn to start saying “no” more often, for this decision to have any impact.
It’s been working and the results have been both positive and surprising.
Here are some of the things that have happened so far in giving up the grog.
1. I’m saving a ton of cash
The most immediate benefit is the money saved.
At one point, I was probably spending $30-50 on alcohol a week. It’s not a lot – I know people who will routinely spend hundreds on nights out every weekend, but it was adding up.
I have been noticing a massive decrease in spending, due to this small thing.
2. My skin has cleared right up
I did change my skin routine around the time I stopped drinking, but I think it’s definitely helped.
My skin is looking tighter and more vibrant and I rarely get pimples now. I’ve had a few compliments on it, which has been pleasing.
3. I have more energy and sleep better
There are a lot of factors which contribute to this, but overall, I do feel I have more energy and am less sluggish in my day to day life. I have issues with sleep, but I am waking up less in the night than I was previously.
4. I feel more motivated overall
I’m feeling far less lazy – I’m more likely to get out of the house, to exercise, or go for walks. I’ve noticed my productivity is up as well, as I’ve been writing more often and even drawing at times. I feel more creative and inspired in general.
5. The more time passes, the easier it is
The more I don’t drink, the easier it is to say no.
I rarely get cravings to drink anymore. I had one for the first time in weeks a few days ago, which was surprising. I rode it out and felt fine the next day.
I also am still managing to socialise almost as much as I did. Having a car helps, as I like being able to drive home at the end of the night.
I think as I’m older now, I have more faith in myself. I know I’m not “boring” and I don’t need to do what everyone else does to have a good time. Plus everyone around me is more supportive in general. Ah, the wisdom of age!
On the downside, my sweet tooth is out of control
A funny side effect which I know didn’t happen last time I quit drinking (for two years in my early twenties).
I had a pretty strong sweet tooth when I was younger, but it lost its edge when I was around 27.
Since quitting drinking, it’s back in full force, where I’m craving sugar daily.
I know it’s a mental game and this is the next thing I want to address, pairing it with shaking up my eating habits so they’re in a better place in general.
I haven’t lost the weight I hoped to lose
I’ve been working out here and there, having recently got into Pilates. I can feel my body strengthening, but I’m still dragging around a few excess kg’s that I gained overseas and have struggled to lose.
It’s a bit of a vanity thing, but also a health concern. Australia has a rapidly growing obesity rate and I don’t want to be a part of its number.
How long is this going to continue?
In all honesty, I’m not sure. I was aiming for three months but now I’ve passed that goal, I want to keep going.
I don’t think I want to start drinking on a regular basis again. The benefits to not drinking are far too appealing.
As I’ve got older, I’ve had some shocking but rather obvious realisations that we all should probably start thinking about. Like, how modern day society likes to abuse our bodies, these vehicles that we will ride for the rest of our lives. And how maybe we should appreciate them more and actively rejoice in taking care of them.
We can do this by letting them sleep and recharge, when they need it. By not putting harmful chemicals into our bodies or on our skin. By not viewing exercise as a form of “punishment”, but delighting in the things our bodies are capable of.
Of appreciating the small things that happen beyond our control – like the simple act of movement or breathing. Not everyone is in this position, yet it’s something that many of us take for granted.
I’m grateful for all my body does for me and this is my way of giving back to it. For me at least, the negatives of drinking heavily outweigh the positives. I don’t really need it in my life and I’m enjoying its absence.
Note: I lasted seven months on this particular stretch, but am contemplating abstaining again. The benefits of no alcohol are just too good!
What can you do to cut down on alcohol?
I think in all honesty, to truly cut down on drinking you have to closely examine how it’s affecting you in your day to day life.
If you think you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, then that’s one thing. If it’s something that bothers you, it may be time to take a lengthy break.
I’ve gone down both roads before – of quitting cold turkey and of gradually stripping back until the desire to drink was gone. They were both successful methods, which worked at different points in my life.
If you are truly concerned about your drinking, then there are plenty of organisations you can look to join. One is Alcoholics Anonymous of course, but I also recommend checking out Hello Sunday Morning if you’re looking for an online community to interact with.
Reading Jill Stark’s memoir [easyazon_link identifier=”1922247030″ locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″ localize=”y”]High Sobriety: My Year Without Booze[/easyazon_link] was timely for me. It details Stark’s journey through sobriety for 12 months, as well as offering a closer examination into the drinking culture of Australia and her own home country of Scotland.
One piece of advice – find your non-alcoholic drink. I personally enjoy flavoured kombucha and non-flavoured sparkling water, so I tend to order them in the summer. Plenty of places have mocktails on offer too, which can be a fun substitute.
The colder seasons are a bit more difficult to navigate through – I’m a red wine fiend and haven’t found another winter warmer that tickles my fancy. Working on it.
I do find it helps to have a drink in hand in general – you won’t be left wanting, or feel out of place and if you have a drink in hand, people won’t peer pressure you so much.
Over to you – what’s your story? Have you had long breaks from drinking? Or do you want to and are not sure where to begin?