A new adventure sparked by a global pandemic
As lockdown was announced my first selfish, panicked thoughts about how on earth our family would cope were quickly followed by another alarming thought: “do we have enough wine?!”. If ever there was a time when wine was needed, surely it was that moment! But two months into lockdown it dawned on me: dealing with an event that no one expected would happen in any lifetime, coping with this new pressure on family life (heightened by my daughter’s learning difficulties and need for routine), was not being remotely enhanced by alcohol. So, I decided to take a break from it. I joined an online challenge to quit for 90 days and my world changed.
Taking a break from alcohol goes against societal norms in every social situation. If you have lived a life where “pleasurable” drinking was not only normal but, in most cases expected you would think this would be a monumental undertaking: 25 years of social drinking to nothing! And if you look on the face of it – whether you are going from “normal” levels of drinking or believe you are straying into excessive territory, complete abstinence seems an unfathomable mountain to climb. But I am happy to tell you that it doesn’t work like that. The changes happen step by step, incremental positives build in strength and replace any “loss” felt from alcohol……
When I wake up, I am reborn, (Mahatma Gandhi)
It starts with glorious sleep and energised mornings!! Logically, the immediate effects of removing alcohol will be increased energy levels from improved sleep and reduced feelings of anxiety (more on that later) all as a result of detoxifying the different parts of your body. But this impact can be so monumental that giving up alcohol gifts you time and a lot of it! The lethargy is gone along with the indecision, fatigue, aching body and much more. It all disappears and leaves in its place - TIME. To be given time, in a world where being phenomenally busy seems to be a human requirement, is surely a gift. And it doesn’t stop there……
Removing the blinkers
I liken having alcohol in your system to a continuous fog, either impenetrable after a night’s drinking or quietly sitting there the rest of the time in varying degrees of intensity. Then, after a period away from alcohol, the fog lifts and something magic happens – a genuine spark of new opportunities.
The business and busyness of life and responsibilities can totally blinker you. Often we feel we have no time to shake things up a bit, to try anything new. But removing the alcohol gives you clarity, space, the aforementioned time and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, all the requirements to positively consider what changes you might like to make in your life. Acting on this opportunity is the essential piece to successfully making this change. Why? because it quietens the monkey brain………
My two brains
Let me introduce you to your human brain and your monkey brain. The human is your rational, logical brain and your monkey brain is impulsive, short term, and selective in memory. My guess is your human had already considered the health benefits of reducing your alcohol intake. You might be trying alcohol free nights in the week and/or trying drinking less on the nights you do partake. Whatever methods you try it will be the monkey that comes in to trip you up, to remind you how much fun you have on those drinking nights out (selective memory engaged here).
This isn’t going to work unless you give your monkey something else to entertain it.
As an alcohol free coach this is where we would brainstorm desires and ideas to start to identify new activities and passions. You would picture your ideal day, your ideal life and engage the motivation to move towards that life in any small way. By introducing one or many different elements into your life you are confusing your monkey with something entirely different, something better.
Clear skies ahead
My two lives are incomparable and that was the key for me. If you do want to give it a try then my biggest advice is
don’t view the challenge as giving something up but an opportunity to gain so much more.
That simple mindset shift from seeing the alcohol free days looming ahead of you down a dark corridor of boredom and loneliness vs shaking things up and giving your life a positive boost in any way you want – that will guarantee a more successful outcome.
Curious? Please get in touch
Take a look at my alcohol free space on my website. I would love to hear from you
Free alcohol support
For anyone reading this that feels they might need free local support with managing alcohol intake, the NHS has comprehensive localised lists of support group. Just click on the link and type in your postcode. Your doctor will also be able to help.