40 days ago I announced that I was going to take part in the 100 days of no booze challenge. No, I wasn’t pouring wine on my cornflakes but I was questioning how I turned to it every weekend, how I went to it when I was stressed and how I turned to it when I had something to celebrate. I realised that it had crept into my life and that I used it to relax, celebrate or commiserate.
The Final Push
Around about this time I started reading more and more articles on the dangers of drinking, it kept coming on the radio, and every time I switched on the television there was a news report about how drinking was in the decline. Everywhere I looked I was being barraged with scary facts and statistics. How drinking shortened your life, I mean I knew that deep down but let’s be honest, we all like to bury that little nugget of information. I learnt that drinking can cause cancer and dementia. In fact when you really start looking into the dangers of drinking, it makes you wonder why you were ever fond of that little glass of wine in the first place.
My recent health scare, my big birthday that is rapidly approaching (21 again peeps) and my desire to live to an old and very ripe age so that I can live to see my own children have their own families, had got me thinking. Before I knew it I had downloaded the app and pledged not to drink for 100 days.
How Do I Feel?
40 days later and do I feel amazingly different? Nope. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for the Botox side effect. When you give up drinking and start doing a Benjamin Button. That has not happened. I still have my very deep frown marks and I still look haggard and tired. I’m not sure what I was really expecting because I have done Dry January before and again I didn’t really notice any changes. This time is different though because I have noticed one change! I am enjoying not drinking. Not once have I reached the weekend and wished that I was drinking a cold glass of wine.
Recognising Change Within Myself
I have come to the conclusion that this time there have been some big life changes. Physically you might not be able to tell that I have packed the wine witch away, but mentally I feel so much better. I feel clearer and stronger. Yes, my sleep is still crazy a lot of the time but I am also getting some really good nights’ sleep. The kind of sleep where you go to bed, and then don’t wake up until the morning. Sadly, giving up wine hasn’t made me lose weight. I seem to have replaced my weekend wine with family size bars of chocolate. Neither have I discovered that I am a morning person. I still am unable to function in the morning without my vat of coffee.
I am doing this challenge because I am curious to see if I notice any real changes. I have read accounts from other people who have given up alcohol for three months and they all share similar stories of feeling calmer, more energetic, sparkly skin and better hair. It’s very early days for me but I have noticed that I am feeling less anxious. However, there is no energy or sparkly skin. I guess my hair does seem bigger than normal, so perhaps that’s a result of giving up the wine.
A big lesson that I have learnt is that I don’t need to drink to have fun when out with friends. Some of my best nights have revolved around bottles of wine. I like to have fun and let my hair down. That’s why I was slightly nervous about going away to a bloggers’ retreat. Any social occasion like that immediately makes me feel ill at ease and I cling to a glass of wine like it’s a lifejacket. However, I was surprised with how I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I still felt confident enough to hold conversations and I felt much more alert when chatting to people. If anything I realised that I really didn’t miss drinking. Yes, I probably didn’t have the same staying power because I wasn’t drinking but I just listened to my body and went to bed when I felt tired. It meant that the next day I woke up feeling fine, and without the wine witch whispering in my ear about the stupid things I had said the previous night.
I have found that this month I have been slightly more productive and I have been braver. I have been offered an opportunity that I would normally run a mile from, instead I have embraced it and I will be pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I’m going to do it.
Wine Wasn’t What I Thought It Was
For the whole of my adult life I have thought of wine as being this wonderful elixir. A glass of potion that helps me feel confident, a glass for making me feel brave. I have realised that I was wrong, I was misguided. I don’t need the wine to make me feel brave, confident or sociable. If anything I am a far better person without. The wine just eats away at me, there is no happy hour when it comes to me and wine. Even just one glass of wine can make me feel terrible. I have come to the realisation that I really can’t handle my booze.
These 40 days have taught me that I really don’t need wine. That it’s society and advertising that makes me think I do need wine. We see it everywhere. It’s insipid, from the fun wine mum memes through to the Alicia Flockhart in The Good Wife knocking back huge glasses of red wine and still winning her big court case the next day. We are led to believe that drinking wine is fun and sexy and that it makes us successful. It doesn’t, if anything drinking booze for many of us puts us on a dangerous path. It’s an addictive drug, and one that can wreck lives.
What I have learnt over these 40 days? That sober is the new sexy.