Clearing away the empties after a big night, I’ve sometimes considered scribbling out the ABV % and instead pencilling in the measure of my shame, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Let’s just say, a ‘1’ was never in the running.
A whole bottle of wine + five gins = one deeply private overshare, gallons of tears and at least 24 hours of deepest depression.
Little mental calculations flying everywhere. Like ‘yes it was bad, but next time I’ll drink more water’, or ‘if I’d stopped at the wine everything would have been fine…’
Fundamentally though, those sums are all underpinned by the belief that giving up alcohol would be a socially or personally unsurvivable loss.
Remarkable, isn’t it?
Alcohol is actually thought to affect around 50 different neural mechanisms, most significantly:
Oh the luxury of knowing that silly season is behind us for another year.
Gleefully we dump the mince pies, donate the weird gifts and vacuum up every last vestige of tinsel. It feels a touch Scrooge-like to be so relieved to see the back of such a ‘special’ time.
Except it’s not. It’s only bloody reasonable.
Most of the joy was sucked from Christmas when we became adults…. FEMALE adults.
Because here we are, somehow almost entirely responsible for delivering the full Christmas experience – with giving our children all the sparkle and delight, with juggling family and in-law relationships, usually with cooking and (99 times out of 100) shopping resting entirely on our plates.
And then we wonder why we’re miseries; why it takes a gallon of alcohol to make us *joyful* and to lubricate our way through the season.
We’re miseries because there is nothing merry and bright about being the Christmas workhorse…
Ok I didn’t actually kill anyone, but if deathly thoughts counted for anything he’d be pushing up daisies right about now….
And it was only partly his fault.
The other part was mine. My self-care routine was knocked out of whack so, instead of re-defining it, I let it slide. So, there I was, with all of life’s usual pressures and dramas, and without my outlet – my safe space and time to unwind and process.
It was not pretty. But I learned from it.
From now on, I will kill FOR my self-care time, not because of the lack of it.
Jokes aside, what I did learn is that, since creating that time for myself, I am so much more able to navigate the peaks and troughs of work and relationships, and without it I’m a little bit at sea. That time is, in the scheme of things, just a few moments, but it works wonders for my wellbeing.
Because I don’t want to be a reactive, dramatic person – most of us have no desire to...
Deciding to ditch alcohol can feel like a HUGE statement.
‘Oh God, everyone will think I’m a raging alcoholic’, or maybe ‘if I say I don’t drink, but then I start again, I’ll have failed’.
Those thoughts can be crippling.
But sometimes we set our goals too specifically, and in doing so we talk ourselves out of them before we’ve even got off the starting blocks.
What if the goal wasn’t to ditch the booze, but to find better ways to self-care, to self-soothe, to show yourself a whole heap of self-love?
Because, ultimately, it’s kinda the same thing.
Changing your relationship with alcohol doesn’t mean you have to tip everything down the sink in a blaze of ‘new me’ defiance (although you can if you want). It can just mean thinking, observing, nurturing, and then plotting a new path as all that understanding unfolds.
Big old lines in the sand can give us a tremendous kick when they work, but...
Stop ‘quitting’ alcohol
So often, when we think about how we want to enhance our lives, we start with all things we need to ‘stop’. We set about decluttering our inner workings like they’re an overstuffed wardrobe.
Energised and ruthless, we chuck out everything ugly and ill-fitting – all the things we no longer want to be part of who we are. Until, exhaustion hits. Then we look around at the mountains of odd socks and resistance bands, and – overwhelmed by fatigue and futility – we decide to come back to it tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…
Because in picking that enormous battle, we had already lost.
Great ideas don’t become sticky changes through willpower – by bloody-mindedly ploughing through something awful – change happens when we set our sights on a new horizon. When we’re motivated by hope and optimism.
We have to believe with all our hearts that what’s on the other side is...
Did you get alcohol-free or sober curious over the pandemic? Is this your first Christmas without alcohol? The holiday period can be really activating for our nervous systems – family, socialising pressure, stress, and so on. It's a big fat lie that alcohol relieves stress, even if that belief takes a bit of shifting. Your body goes into hyperdrive as soon as it consumes alcohol, prioritising the removal of it from your system above ALL else. This leads to the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin - which are like pouring petrol on the flames of our anxiety and stress.
If you REALLY want to have a stress-free Christmas, the following ideas can help you to not only keep booze at bay but have blast while you do so!
If you are not feeling it. Don't go. You are under no obligation. Your early alcohol-free journey may not be ready...