One day I had gotten to a point where I just didn’t want to drink anymore. There wasn’t just one thing driving me towards going alcohol-free, it was in a sense, everything. The fun I used to have drinking, particularly binge drinking, had completely vanished and I was over it.
My partner and I were like majority of America when Covid first hit, where we saw an increase in how much we were drinking. From stressful jobs, a looming pandemic and navigating a new normal, it was a LOT to process and take in.
But one day after stupidly bickering with my boyfriend, something clicked. I realized I wasn’t having fun at all anymore. So I thought about giving up alcohol for a bit, you know a quick 30 days. Should be easy enough, right?
Soon those 30 days quickly turned into 100 days, and it’s been quite the journey. And honestly, probably one of the best ones I intentionally chose to embark on.
I am a person who likes to push and challenge myself, especially when a new idea as such pops in my mind.
A few years ago, I got the idea to give up meat after watching a documentary on Netflix. I absolutely loved seafood so it was hard to give that up, BUT I did wind up going 5 years without eating chicken, beef or pork, which was completely different than the lifestyle I had led for over two decades!
But to my original point, I like doing challenges, even if they are on a whim. And I knew that with this, being alcohol-free, there was a real possibility it would stick for longer than 30 days, and my gosh it certainly has!
While I am SUPER excited to share my journey with you, I want to remind you that thagreymatter is a safe space, so no shade or judgement. And I am definitely not here to preach to you or tell you what to do or what not to do in your life.
But I do want to share with you what I’ve learned and the insights I found during my time going alcohol-free. I hope this does two things. Hopefully this will also help those who may feel alone in trying to go alcohol-free, or who may share similar sentiments as I did throughout this period.
So here are my personal lessons I uncovered when I went alcohol-free for 100 days (and counting!)…
Alcohol destroys my well-being & mental health
Not only did drinking alcohol make it nearly impossible to keep up with my workout regimen, it also negatively impacted my mental health.
I have suffered from anxiety for a few years now, but it wasn’t until I was consistently drinking, that I realized it was only making things worse. I noticed that I was more anxious, especially after bouts of every drinking. Not fun emotionally, mentally and sometimes it would physically wipe me out.
So after surfing the web, I decided to read and re-learn some things for myself. It’s not that I didn’t know the consequences or effects of drinking alcohol, I just don’t think it mattered. Especially since it’s a part of the culture to drink at practically every occasion. Who was I kidding?
What I did learn is that what I was feeling was in a way true. It is a fact that alcohol does negatively impact your brain chemistry. It is a depressant, and while I won’t get into details and science of it all, you can see how a depressant would be bad for one’s mental health, especially if you are already struggling.
And I also realized that by binge drinking, which is defined by consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women and 5 or more drinks in 2 hours for men, I was not doing my body any long-term good. Drinking wasn’t going to help me reach any goal or vision I had for my life, point blank period.
I am a better runner when I’m alcohol-free
The reason why I put this separate from the others is because while running is my favorite method of exercise, it is also something I enjoy doing for my own peace of mind.
And alcohol was causing me to enjoy what I loved way less. I even started to run less because it wasn’t fun anymore.
I’m not sure if you have ever tried working out the morning AFTER getting drinking, but it is not fun. 0/10…aka I would NOT recommend!
I like to run in the mornings pretty much as soon as I wake up. The problem with this was drinking the night before, practically a few hours before I’m going to run, would not work. At first I tried to make it work though.
I mustered up the strength many days to run or finish my workout with either a killer headache, nausea or simply not doing my best.
I got to a point where I was annoyed with myself. Even though I wasn’t going out or even staying up crazy late, I was still enjoying a few drinks on the couch, enough that running the next day was unbearable and impractical. So yeah going alcohol-free definitely made more sense for me now.
Related Post: Running for Beginners: 10 Tips to Get Started
I feel more authentic when I’m alcohol-free
Now as I said earlier, I do suffer from anxiety, so when I first decided to go alcohol-free I was a complete ball of nerves. Can I actually not drink? I mean I’ve always had a drink on the weekends! What will people say? What if I mess up? I was unsure of how I would navigate spaces and show up in certain situations in my life.
I feared not being accepted anymore by my friends, family and even my partner. Hard to write, but it’s my truth.
I soon realized though the problem was I just had to get used to it. Once you get used to anything, it becomes easier than most.
And it’s not to say I wasn’t myself when I drank, but I think we can all agree that there is always a little extra dip on your chip when you’re drinking. You may be a little louder, or a little obnoxious, or you could be the emotional drunk. I had a few moments of being all three ha!
I learned that when I did go alcohol-free, in most situations I was way more comfortable and confident in myself. And while my fears about being accepted were valid, my village of people supported me with such love and peace. It was beautiful.
I am naturally a nervous person
Yes, you are reading right! I am a pretty nervous person and I think sometimes alcohol helped me cover it up.
I mean, most people will see me as bubbly and extroverted, but internally I am usually a nervous and awkward mess. But social situations plus alcohol, hid that little detail, even from myself!
Once I went alcohol-free, I obviously had more time on my hands to do a lot of reflection and in doing so, I realized that most things and situations make me a little nervous. Nothing to run home about, but enough for me to notice it a little bit more when I wasn’t drinking on tap.
And hello acceptance. I now accept that I get nervous and awkward and sometimes I get anxious. It’s okay, it doesn’t define me, and I love those parts of me equally.
Being nervous is normal. Having nervous thoughts or feelings are normal for any human being! My issue wasn’t that I was nervous, but the shock I felt realizing that I didn’t know this about myself. Here I was, pushing 29 and not drinking was giving me realizations about myself that I did not expect to learn, at all.
I like climbing into bed early
Staying up late was definitely the norm when I was back in college, you know, partying until the wee hours in the morning. And I had a blast, I truly did.
But now? I want to be in bed with the grandmas! Haha, no seriously, I LOVE going to bed early. It just feels like a more natural way for me to end the day. I don’t force it, I actually feel tired at that time and going to bed is pretty easy.
It also makes it way easier to get my long runs in the morning, see how it’s all connected? But alcohol smooth messed that up. I started going to bed later than normal, especially on weekends, which ruined my sleeping patterns.
I realized that when you’re drinking and having a good time with your friends and when alcohol is involved, you’re not usually aware of the time.
How many times have you went out and told yourself you would only have one drink or stay only until X time, with that going out the window by the end of the night?
There have been too many times to count over here, where I ended up staying out WAY later than I thought I would (before Covid). And I used to just chalk it up to time getting away from me.
But the reality was I had no real sleeping pattern. Well I did, but I was messing it up every time I stayed up drinking, and then I would have to recover in the morning. No matter how I put it, it just looked and felt like wasted time and energy.
Now, I just give into my natural clock, start winding down for bed early. Not only does it work for me, I have seen noticeable changes in my sleeping quality.
I don’t enjoy not remembering things
Have you ever had someone approach you after a night of drinking and either tell you something you did that you don’t remember OR asking you about something you have no memory of? Yeah, me too. And I’m sure it sucked equally for the both of us!
I have a strong dislike for not remembering things. Especially the things I’m supposed to enjoy and cherish, like quality time with my friends and family.
I don’t want to ever consciously choose to not remember.
During my alcohol-free journey, I enjoyed the most was remembering absolutely everything. No fuzzy moments, no questionable blackout moments, nothing. Just a bit more clarity 100% of the time.
I remember when I was younger, I was in Arizona with co-workers helping to ramp up a new office, and one night we all went out for a night on the town.
Well I ended up drinking like a fish and ended up passed out on the sidewalk outside the bar. My co-worker, the one who had not one drop at all, had to put me in a cab and get me to my hotel room. To this day, I don’t remember how I got back safely, but THANK god I did.
Not my best moment as you can guess, but it taught me a lot in hindsight.
I don’t like NOT being in control of my own actions, or simply just not remembering. Knowing what is going on, the good and the bad is important to me now a days.
I have so much love to give
Going alcohol-free for 100 days allowed me time to reflect on other facets of my life. One of the biggest things I noticed was how much love existed within me.
I will admit, I’ve always been kind of a sap. My boyfriend jokes that I love love. Not even romantic love, I just enjoy seeing love function within any relationship, experience or encounter. I also realized how much I enjoy giving love too!
I noticed this one day when I decided that I wanted to write my partner a note before he started the work-week. A cute little note expressing my love for him. He didn’t do anything in particular to wow me, but I still wanted to show him some extra love.
It was simply one-time thing to boost his spirits and make him smile.
But it actually wasn’t a one-time thing. I started doing it every week because I wasn’t hungover all Sunday. I had the time and space mentally and emotionally to even think of more and better ways to love my partner. That is freaking powerful!
I wasn’t busy replaying the night before and trying to piece it together. I was free to focus on whatever mattered to me. And for me, it was showing my partner love.
It just clicked. I realized that I had and have a deep love and appreciation for people, and I want to spend more time expressing it and showing it. For me, it is important that I give and experience love authentically, without always needing or simply wanting the presence of someone else, or something else like alcohol.
I am fucking powerful and holy in my own right
I am one of the most powerful people I know and I am proud to be in a place in my life to confidently speak that. It took me a while to get here, but man I don’t plan on going back.
Going alcohol-free has taught me self-discipline. It taught me about delayed gratification. Hell, it taught me how to step away from the herd mentality and do something for me, regardless of what others thought. The only thing that mattered was me.
Going alcohol-free gave me the time and insight into myself to realize my power and inner voice. The entire experience was empowering to say the least.
It also taught me how strong and resilient I am, some of which was new to me. And even at the age of 29, I have the ability to challenge myself and relearn things. I was strong enough to recognize that while things were good, they could be a whole lot better if I intentionally tried.
During my journey, I read a few sobriety books, which is commonly referred to as #quitlit, and it helped me in the re-learning department. That’s one thing you have to realize about anything you want to do that is new or challenging…
It may be hard, difficult and you probably don’t know have a darn clue how to navigate it. But being resourceful means that you can learn to do anything. I applied this logic to drinking alcohol, and realized that I am more powerful than I give myself credit for.
So those are my 8 lessons from going alcohol-free for 100 days. And while I’m not sure what the future unfolds for me and alcohol, I will say that I currently drink as much as I want.
I just don’t want to anymore and that’s okay in my book!
Have you ever went alcohol-free or abstained from something? How did you feel or what did you uncover on your journey?