I stopped drinking alcohol in January 2020. At the moment I can't see myself drinking again.
I’ve been alive for 28 years and I've been drinking alcohol since I was 18. In the last ten years, the longest time I hadn't drunk for was maybe six weeks and that was during a gym transformation. Other than that, I had a drink most weekends.
There are a few reasons I've found myself going sober.
Firstly, during my time traveling overseas in 2018 and 2019 there were moments where I started to challenge many things I did or had kind of just accepted as the norm. I really wanted to challenge my mindset around drinking. People often drink as a reward, like making it to the end of the week, or to boost your mood. I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol and see if I could remove it and transform these habits I had created and adopted from a young age.
My second reason is surrounding my physical health. I have always cared about my body. I try look after it using the knowledge I have. Whilst travelling I drank a fair bit, and there were also times where I wouldn’t. It would depend on who I was with and where I was staying. Being flexible and adaptable for me was part of the fun. I started to delve, (its about to get deep here) further into discovering the true meaning of life and what happiness is. I reflected and looked at my habits, my values, my lifestyle choices and I started slowly adapting them. Majority of us drink too much, and it one of the first things your doctor might encourage you to limit if you start showing symptoms of disease or illness. I know many people who suffer from a range of different illnesses. I decided I wanted to give myself the best chance at living a healthy and full-filled life and try avoid any illnesses.
My third reason was the big and final push. It was the decision to take better care of my body as I was suffering with some anxiety issues. This was during a moment in my life where there was a lot of change and a lot of social disruption (thats one way to put it!). This anxiety was so intense to start with. I felt so crippled and completely lost. I chose to whip out all the knowledge I had learnt from my past when I studied psychology at university, plus tools and practices I had learnt about over time through my own research via books, podcasts, articles and so on. I really started to look at my mental health and how I could help and support it.
There were many tools and changes I implemented. Ditching alcohol was one of them. I went completely cold turkey. I set a date and I said, thats the date I stop.
So I wanted to make some lifestyle changes for three reasons:
- to keep my body healthy
- keep my mind healthy. The more I looked at my relationship with alcohol, the more I realised it was unreliable and unhealthy (and EXPENSIVE!)
- challenge habits and societal norms.
So how did I manage to stop? What did I do?
Being obsessed with psychology I knew how drinking is a habit because of the emotions we feel when we drink. So I broke down what a habit is, what was triggering me to drink, what was the cue and what can I therefore do about it.
I was determined not to get all "FOMO" so I went along to my friends bar, or to parties and replaced the drink with sparkling lime water. Sometimes if it was really tempting I would reward my behaviour for saying no by having a lemonade, almost transforming the habit. We know that emotions make your mind want to repeat a behaviour so If I rewarded my behaviour then my mind might be more likely to do this again.
I made myself accountable by telling my family, friends and publicly posting about it on my feed.
I embraced it and really believed in myself. I knew I could do it and I knew I could have fun along the way too. I looked for ways to make it happen!
I created a community for myself. Im aware of how important your environment is in influencing your behaviour and your social connections with others. I reached out to a few people who weren't drinking too and I filled my feed on social media with people on similar journeys. I found this really encouraging and supportive.
I'll probably keep you posted on my sober journey as I unpack my experience.