I think it’s hard for a lot of people to acknowledge the habitual use of alcohol in their lives. Recently, I reached a point personally where I felt that it was time to completely give up my go-to way to relieve stress and unwind. I was encouraged by several different articles about the benefits of going alcohol free promising results of mental clarity, improved sleep and even increased energy.
In our society, drinking is heavily encouraged and it’s not uncommon to get the stank eye if you turn down the offer for a drink. In my case, turning down a drink meant I was pregnant to most people and during my hiatus from booze, I just had to explain I was conducting a personal challenge for self improvement through cutting out alcohol. My friends and family members were totally on board with my self imposed 30 day challenge and that helped tremendously to be successful and keep me accountable to my goal.
I won’t lie and say it was easy to cut of drinking for 30 days. Oh there were days where the craving would hit. Sometimes the craving would be brought on by stress (long day at work perhaps) or possibly just sitting out on a patio for brunch enjoying good company and nice weather. Because I vocalized my goal, I felt less inclined to break my goal in front of people who supported me. Another area that was really difficult for me was dealing with my craving for a treat since I wasn’t drinking. I indulged in sugary sweets during my 30 day detox I think because I still wanted to reward my self for choosing not to drink.
I learned a lot from my hiatus from booze and here are my major take-aways for anyone else considering taking a break.
More time to invest in your hobbies and passions
- During my break, I had more free time to put toward my hobbies like drawing, watercolors, photography and reading. When you choose to spend your time drinking, it’s less likely that you’re putting quality time toward your hobbies because you’re busy unwinding and zoning out. I read 3 books during my 30 challenge when before I averaged at the most 1 book a month.
Learning alternative stress relieving practices
- Even though I do stay active at the gym, I wanted to pick back up my old practices of yoga and meditation. It had been years since I had done either and I was instantly experiencing positive affects of both. These two practices became some of my go to methods of dealing with stress.
- Most people know that if you stop drinking you’ll probably lose weight. While this wasn’t one of my intentions, I was pleased to see the scale drop about 5 lbs in 30 days. This also made me realize that I’ve been carrying an unnecessarily additional 5 lbs!
- This was something I was really striving to achieve with my challenge. Research shows that mental clarity is improved by drinking more water (which is all I was drinking during my challenge) and the practices of yoga and meditation also show a connection. During work meetings and even in conversations, I felt more present, quick thinking and with it.
- Who doesn’t love to save some money? I estimate that I saved between $50-$100/month by cutting back on booze and not buying drinks with 200% mark-up at a restaurant or bar.
General improved well-being
- To summarize how I felt 90% of the time during this challenge was that I felt genuinely great. My body and mind seemed to be working together and I had tons of energy. The quality of my sleep improved and I was able to fight off a cold I had been battling for a few weeks.
I believe it’s great from time to time to challenge an area of your life that you may feel could use an improvement. For me this was drinking and I encourage anyone out there considering taking on a similar challenge to give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you learn and experience during your challenge and create some amazing personal shifts in your life.