My relationship with alcohol and why it's about to change
On 1st September 2019 I kicked off a 90 day alcohol free challenge. Through this post I'm hoping to inspire you to join me.
Over the course of this year I've noticed a growing trend towards sobriety within the industry that I work. Women declaring on instagram that they'd "never drink again!" Proudly sharing their resolve and celebrating milestones along the way. I've watched on as an observer, mostly with little if any intention to follow suit. Because why would I? I'm healthy, I'm not an addict, my mental health is strong, I don't use alcohol as a crutch. Or so I've convinced myself.
Unlike many trends in the wellness industry, I've a sense this one, whilst having a (long) way to go, will gather momentum and stick.
By sharing my challenge here I hope to shine a light on a drug that many of us have come to justify rather beautifully in our lives.
Sobriety is not another health trend, it is a terrifying, enlightening and rebellious act in a world that puts drinking on a pedestal.
- Beth Holden
But first, here's a little background around my relationship with alcohol.
- I went to a university college where it was far cooler to drink (a lot) than get good grades. I was even on the uni sculling team. We trained several nights a week. There were no boats, just beer. Needless to say it didn't last long; my Dad soon put an end to this.
- Prior to getting sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I had quite the reputation for being a party girl. First to arrive, last to leave. As hedonistic as they come. I worked hard, played hard.. and chose to ignore Mum's words screaming loudly in my ear "You don't need to drink alcohol to have fun Aims!".
- One of my favourite memories/moments has always been 6 o'clock drinks with my family. It still is. It's when we come together, watch the news, chat about the day and connect. With a drink. For me then, pouring a gin or a pinot at 6pm takes me straight back to those memories. A habit therefore, that has been hard to break. Until recently I've enjoyed a glass of pinot most days; in company more than one.
- My 6pm pinot (or gin) helps 'bookend' my working day. It's the pen's down moment. Then come the sips that help soothe the tension, calm me down, take the edge off. I usually stop at one with ease, but that's not the problem here, is it.
- As a food and wine lover, dining and drinking with friends is likely my favourite hobby. Food, wine, conversation, laughs, fabulous company - all of this comes in one happy package, a package that until recently would feel entirely strange without the addition of alcohol.
So what instigated this 90 day challenge?
Two friends sharing in the journey and the suggestion I listen to the Rich Roll podcast. Rich interviews Andy Ramage, a professional soccer play turned broker who gives up grog and goes on to prove the power of sobriety in his work, his relationships, his health, his relationships and so on. What was particularly confronting for me were his words, which went something like this: "Those people who drink 1-2 nights a week have no idea how good they can feel. Drinking just 1-2 nights per week impacts sleep, energy, clarity, mental health...more than you could know. " (I encourage you to listen to the podcast here)
This got me thinking. How much is my life being impacted by my one glass of pinot, several nights a week (and the additional few on a weekend)? How much more productive might I be if I didn't drink at all? Would I have greater mental clarity? Less anxious thoughts? Would I wake feeling more vital each day? Would I feel more joy?
One bit of feedback I loved about Andy's comments was that once he'd given up alcohol he worked LESS, because his productivity sky rocketed. THAT was the moment I decided it was truly time. This would give me more time to live a well-rounded life!
Here's a few more (pertinent) reasons behind my decision.
I want to truly feel what it's like to be ME. To feel all of it, the pain, the sadness, the joy, the hurt, the strain, the angst. Without the grog to dull the feelings as they come. To become better at down regulating stress in my life without alcohol.
I want to remind myself just how capable I can be, how much I can achieve, how well and energised I can feel. I want to stop dulling my life and to feel it all.
Why only 90 days?
I'm hesitant not to put too much pressure on myself right now. Andy Ramage shares that 90 days is a good amount of time for people to change their habits around alcohol and to truly experience life in all of it's sober glory. At 90 days I get the sense many never go back, some will of course, but with a forever changed relationship. So I've give myself space to work that out as I go.
At the time of writing I am only ten days in. I'm feeling resolute, committed, unwavering. I'm feeling fired up, if truth be known.
Are you at all inspired to join me? If there's a little itch that needs scratching, I urge you to listen to the podcast, just as a start. See how that feels to you. Should you decide to dive in, I've downloaded the I am Sober app, and right now I'm listening to This Naked Mind by Annie Grace on Audible.
If you're in, comment below - there is a lot of power in keeping us accountable to each other and I'd love to know you're there. Also, I implore you, if you've given up alcohol I would truly love to hear how you've found the journey - perhaps even just share the top couple of things you noticed without alcohol in your life.
I'll report back at the end of the 90 days with my findings. Thanks for listening and cheers (with a sparkling water, of course).