I decided to stop drinking alcohol completely seven months ago. I wasn’t an alcoholic by any means, but I sure could put some wine away, when I didn’t have work or kids responsibilities.   I could probably be described as a binge drinker, as my wine drinking was mainly weekends and a couple of glasses in the week, large ones.  I would have had a hangover at least once a week, though it did not seem to effect me too much.  I know now this was because I got used to it and developed a tolerance. I found misery in moderating, it was hard work thinking about how much was too much and planning what and when to drink. The crazy thing about trying to moderate; my goal was moderation, yet I was consuming the very substance that takes away the ability to moderate. Where’s the sense in that?

When I decided the best thing was to stop drinking completely (not just pause for a few weeks as I had done previously) I was not a hundred percent sure that I would stop for good when the next great party, event or my holiday came around. Being a Coach myself, I know that making yourself accountable and having support to follow it through consistently makes an enormous difference to succeeding and how quickly you get there. Having that accountability keeps you on track, it helps overcome challenges both unforeseen and predicted, it helps you to make a plan and provides additional support.

So I made a decision and called up someone I know and trust, who runs a retreat centre and a meditation program based on sobriety and freedom. I have so much respect for this woman, she lives and breaths her truth and we are like minded people.  I knew if I called her to join her online program and group, I would be making a commitment and this would provide me with the accountability I needed to overcome my challenges. So I commited, and the moment I called her the relief was huge and immediate.

I have never looked back since. I had not realised how much my drinking had bugged me. There was always a little voice somewhere asking me if I thought drinking to excess while teaching fitness, meditation and coaching was right, so I had some self doubt going on inside me, which has gone now. This same voice often asked me if I would be better at my work if I didn’t drink. I now know I am not better at my work, I just feel better in myself for the fact that I don’t have this question going on inside me anymore.  I wondered at times how much the alcohol I had the night before affected my mood the next day. I know now that this is mixed, but PMT is definitely better without any form of hangover and unexpected life challenges are easier to deal with. The biggest benefit though is the inner peace of not having any of these questions anymore. Freedom from self doubt is the real gift here for me.

I did not suffer any kind of withdrawal when I stopped and I see this as a good thing. I do however sleep better and need less sleep. I also have more mental energy and clarity. I had the knowledge that alcohol is a depressant. I thought that meant, if you are already depressed then it effects you and I have never suffered with depression. However, I now know that was not what it meant.  Alcohol lowers your mood generally. For me I am a naturally happy type of person, so I didn’t notice any low moods. Now that I have stopped drinking though my mood is generally higher all of the time and that has shocked me, though it’s great to feel even happier than before.

The hardest thing is changing a habit. I will speak about this in another blog. It’s all the things associated with it that are the hardest. I have found new ways of making things fun that were associated with alcohol. I have done two weddings, a holiday, parties, my birthday, nights/meals out and now Christmas without alcohol!

Christmas was a bit itchy. I had two weeks of no real responsibilities work wise, and my kids spent half the time with their dad, so I had more spare time and it was the period where everyone is drinking more, it’s everywhere.  Last year I was out a lot more and drank some alcohol most nights for two weeks. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a bit, but I was fully involved in the Christmas party season and enjoyed it at the time, but I did notice a drop in mood and didn’t feel as good physically.

It was boxing day and New Years eve which got me this year. I felt irritated, bored, and like something was missing. I didn’t associate this with alcohol, as I have now broken that trigger, that says ‘I need ‘a glass of wine’. This perceived sense of boredom is common when people who socialise with alcohol stop and the question is what to do with it?  Doing something different does work; take a bath, watch a movie, just find something to do that is not associated with alcohol. This works well a lot, but when feeling like you really want to go out in the way that you used to, then that is irritating.  I have gotten through this by asking myself what it is I really need?. I know don’t need wine. The  answer that came up for me was I was missing sociability, being around people. Once I knew that, it was easy. I went for a walk round the park to ease the irritability and walked down to my quirky local bar, which I like as a place anyway and had a ginger beer and a chat with people.  That solved it.

The other thing to do is make it as fun as possible. I made bizarre ice cubes such as blended mango, banana with orange and froze them in a heart shaped ice cube tray. They looked so cute. I would add them to sparkling non alcoholic drinks, in a wine glass, so I felt like I was having something special. It worked well

I thought ahead of how awful a hangover would be, in fact the thought of one actually scares me now

I watched films. I could never concentrate properly on a film after a couple of glasses of wine, or remember the story the same way as I do totally sober.

I reminded myself of what it was I really enjoyed, such as the company of family and friends, not the alcohol. The alcohol is perceived fun and most of the time it is not remembered properly anyway. Sober means remembering everything as it really is and being able to enjoy the moment of that and this made me feel that now I have more time somehow, because nothings a blur.

I imagined waking up on New years day, clear headed and feeling a sense of accomplishment and I did, very much so

The fun is not actually in the alcohol, it’s in me as the person I already am naturally. From learning this, I have gained a stronger sense of self belief and love of life.

My truth is, I have created a new mindset, which is a journey in itself and one well worth taking as it has opened me up to life and myself in a more fulfilling and authentic way. Everyone in my life personally and professionally benefits. Everyday is exciting and filled with possibilities. My mind is sharp and clear. I trust myself more. Inner peace with who I am is happiness to me and I didn’t feel quite right somehow when I lived with some inner self doubt, that I ignored for too long.

Has it been worth it?, absolutely yes. For me this has worked really well. Not everyone would need to or want give up drinking completely but most  of us have some area we would like to change, for the better, in our lifestyle.

If you’re making or planning to make a change in your lifestyle to be happier and healthier I would really like to hear your story and what your biggest challenge has been! Please email me jayne@jaynespenceleywellbeing.com