The weekend just gone has marked the end of a month of personal sobriety. I realise that this is no big deal in the grand scheme of life, but those of you who know me will appreciate the magnitude of the statement.
For those of you who I haven’t met, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t been hiding vodka in the loo cistern or pouring Special Brew on my cornflakes, but I do enjoy a glass of wine or two at the weekend, and when life is going tits up and that ‘can’t cope’ feeling is engulfing you then a couple of drinks definitely dulls the pain. Not an entirely healthy coping mechanism perhaps.
Then one day in October I was catching up on blog posts from the lovely Kate Takes Five who is twelve times the woman I am; she stopped drinking for not just one month but a whole year, and has now given up alcohol COMPLETELY! She began as part of the One Year No Beer campaign but loved the benefits so much that she has a permanent seat on the wagon.
And Kate’s list of benefits was long – clear skin, sparkly eyes, better sleep, heightened productivity…I definitely wanted some of that, so I decided to give it go starting the very next day finishing 30 days later. At the beginning it seemed like an insurmountable challenge but (pats self on back) I did it and, in case you were thinking of having a go yourself, here are some titbits of advice from my own journey.
- Keep it Real
Unless your alcohol consumption is negatively affecting others then this is an entirely self-serving challenge. You are not curing cancer, eliminating world poverty or solving the housing crisis. You are not a superhero, you are just saying no to a gin and tonic.
- Don’t Keep it a Secret
I learnt this the hard way. At the mid-point of my 30 day stretch I had a weekend in the diary catching up with a group of old friends. Traditionally these are boozy occasions and I didn’t want to bring the mood down by piously requesting fizzy water in my prosecco glass. Big Mistake. Having discounted the possibility that I was pregnant (hilarious), said friends eventually gave up trying to re-fill my glass and spent the rest of the weekend casting worried glances in my sober direction. It would have saved a whole lot of misunderstanding if I had just come clean in the first place.
- Don’t Talk About it all the time
The flip side of point number two. While it may be an amazing, challenging, life changing experience for you, it is quite boring for everyone else. Sobriety talk is pretty much on a par with diet talk and we all know how dull a diet fanatic can be.
- Don’t hibernate
It was tempting to clear the diary and just go from bed to work and back again for a month, thus avoiding situations that might involve the demon drink. In my book this is cheating, and if you are thinking of turning your month trial into a permanent lifestyle choice then becoming a total recluse is obviously not an option.
- Don’t Judge
Just because you are not necking flaming sambucas and dancing the macarena doesn’t give you the right to roll your eyes at those who are.
- Be Proud. Every Day.
Every day that you complete is a day nearer your challenge target and although the world wouldn’t stop spinning if you had ‘just the one’ your sense of personal achievement would be diminished. It is really hard to stop doing the things we enjoy, whether it is wine, beer, chocolate, or internet shopping, but managing to overcome the urge, even for a short time, is a great feeling.
So how did I feel at the end of my month-long mission? Well, I would say (VERY begrudgingly) that I did feel loads better. My eyes really were whiter, my skin brighter. By the end of the month I was sleeping better than I had for years and I had a Brucie bonus of being four pounds down on the scales. You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a no brainer, why would I go back to my old ways having experienced all of the above? A very good question, now pass me the corkscrew while I ponder an answer.