Pop open the (non-alcoholic) sparkling wine – today I clocked up half a year of being alcohol free. If you told me six months ago that not only would I have reached this milestone, but that I’d be grateful that alcohol was no longer in my life, I would have scoffed at such a suggestion.
But here I am, six months without a drop passing my lips, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s like I’ve ditched a toxic relationship (which is exactly what I’ve done) and now I’m reaping the benefits.
In honour of six months alcohol free, here are my top six reasons to stay off the booze:
1. The end of hangovers
There is nothing worse than dragging yourself out of bed in the morning feeling listless, nauseous and tired, downing some painkillers and plenty of water, and eating something greasy and carb laden to ease an upset stomach.
If you felt like that every time you ate a particular food you would never eat it again. Yet somehow with alcohol we just accept this as the price to pay for indulging. WTF! Hangovers are our body’s way of telling us – at screaming at us – that this substance is not as good as we think it is. Yet we ignore our body’s signs and carry on ingesting something that time after time makes us feel like crap.
Six months without a hangover is bliss. Now if I’m indulging in some hot chips it’s because I want to, not because my body is crying out for some starch to quell the nausea.
2. Clearing the mental chatter
It was not until I turned my back on booze that I realised how much of my mental energy was consumed with thoughts about drinking. Thoughts such as ‘will I drink tonight?’, ‘I need to drink less this weekend’, ‘why did I drink so much?’, ‘should I open another bottle?’, on and on and on.
The internal battle about cutting back my alcohol intake and my worry about drinking took up an inordinate amount of my mental space. I have had a major mind declutter and, in the words of Marie Kondo, it is bringing me joy!
3. Socialising without alcohol is fun
I thought one of the hardest things about choosing to go alcohol free would be socialising without a drink.
Images of me sitting in a corner cradling a tonic and lime while those around me were having a great time did not eventuate. In fact, I soon realised that catching up with friends and family was in many ways better without alcohol. If you told me that six months ago, I would definitely have not believed you.
But it really is. While in the past alcohol may have temporarily eased inhibitions, the bottom line is that I’m spending time with them because I enjoy their company regardless of whether I’m drinking a white wine or a passionfruit kombucha.
4. Alcohol-free drinks are actually really good
Who would have thought that alcohol-free drinks could taste so good? Of course, there are some that are too sweet and have a strange aftertaste but that’s also the case with alcoholic drinks (I’m looking at you Passion Pop and West Coast Coolers – the drinks of my youth).
There’s a whole industry out there specialising in alcohol-free drinks. My favourites are the Lyre’s range of spirits as well as the AF sparkling wines that I order through alcohol free online retailers (Sans Drinks and Craft Zero are two of my faves). My local bottle shop even has an alcohol-free section, which in my drinking days I no doubt walked past dozens of times without even realising there was such a thing.
5. No more 3am angst
When I drank I would often wake at around 3am with my mind racing and being unable to get back to sleep. At this time of the night my thoughts were ones of worry, angst and self-flagellation. Why do I keep drinking? What did I say to that person? Did they take it the wrong way? Is my drinking doing me long-term harm? I want to get back to sleep but I can’t get back to sleep.
It was relentless and exhausting, both mentally and physically. I now know that waking up in the early hours of the morning and being unable to return to sleep is a common issue for drinkers.
Now if I do happen to wake up early in the morning I roll back over and go back to sleep. No recriminations just blissful, rejuvenating sleep.
6. The impossible now seems possible
While all these benefits are great, it certainly hasn’t been easy. However, I do know that with any change comes resistance and once you overcome that resistance it is amazing to realise that the things that had previously seemed insurmountable suddenly seem possible.
I’ve got an increased confidence in my ability to achieve what I previously thought was impossible. Now I’m looking for new challenges, new ‘impossibilities’ to overcome.
Bring on the next six months of alcohol-free living – it feels radical and badass AF!