It is prime time summer, the pubs and bars are finally opening up properly again in post lockdown UK, the weather has been unusually warm, and the Euros are in full swing. Football may well be coming home, after 55 years away… so why on earth would I choose now to quite drinking? Why quit drinking at all?
A lot of these kinds of post can get very preachy and self righteous, so I will preface this post with a quick point of clarification – I am not writing this to try and make other people stop drinking. Neither will I be suggesting that people who do not drink are in some way enlightened or more intelligent than those who do, that simply isn’t true.
Why Quit Drinking?
In the UK, as I am sure in other nations, we seem to have this belief that there is an intrinsic link between fun, happiness and alcohol.
So over the last 18 months, I have completed 2 charity challenges to raise money for mental health charity, Andy’s Man Club and The Trussell Trust supporting a nationwide network of foodbanks across the UK. On both occasions, part of the charity challenge has been no drinking of any alcohol – for a combined total of 190 days. And I haven’t felt as good in years! Having an elongated period with no alcohol was amazing;
getting better quality of sleep – rising earlier, more refreshed
eating far healthier – lack of cravings for junk food / take out
increased energy – no energy dips later in the day
productivity through the roof – clarity of thought and output significantly increased
Yet on both occasions, following the end of the charity challenges, I slipped back in to old habits and found myself drinking on the weekends (or when the football is on). In more recent times, with lockdown restrictions lifting, I have been hosting BBQ’s for birthday parties, friend meet ups and so on… and who grills without a beer in their hand?!
In the past, I have genuinely enjoyed drinking, but having seen the positive impact it has on me when I stop, I no longer get any pleasure from it. If it’s not bringing any happiness, and it is having a net negative impact on my life, the only sensible option in my opinion is to get rid!
The Recovery Period
One of the key characteristics of my drinking habits in the last few years has been to not drink through the week, but then drink with the intention of getting drunk most weekends. It’s a habit a lot of people have, and one I am sure many of you can relate to. I was always the annoying one – never suffering from hangovers, and always fresh and spritely the next day. However what my friends couldn’t see, and what I didn’t want to admit was that whilst the after effects of the alcohol hadn’t left my clutching the toilet or unable to function, it would often have a huge impact on my mental health.
Alcohol is a depressant, and when its exiting your body and your brain is more conscious of its surroundings, it can wreak havoc. For me, that could manifest itself in a few ways, but often would lead to 2 or 3 days of feeling incredibly low. Beating myself up for wasting my weekend being drunk rather than doing something productive, feeling like I was was wasting my life. By day 4 I would be starting to level out, understand it was the after effects of the beer talking and looking back at the last weekend with rose tinted specs. By day 5 it was Friday and time to go again. And so the cycle continues…
Some people reading this may think that drinking to get a bit merry with your friends every weekend is absolutely fine & it may bring you ultimate happiness. I respect that. It’s just that for me personally, I no longer gain that happiness from it – it doesn’t give me purpose or fulfilment.
Why Quit Now Though?
Why not? If something like this isn’t bringing you happiness, it should be removed from your life as soon as possible. Yes, I am sure I will feel slightly gutted I am not drinking with my friends should football come home, as England win Euro 2020(1) – but I will feel a damn sight better the next day when I can remember each and every moment of the game.
As I embark on this journey, I need to clear the decks of distractions, remove anything that will hinder my progress. It’s time to focus on the goal.
Yes, you will still see the occasional post from me on my travels with a glass of wine with a meal or trying a local speciality drink – but the casual consumption is no more.
So here’s to weekends full of activities and memories, to watching the football with a can of Coke Zero, and to grilling with no beer!
I’m very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.– Jim Carrey
I have reached my limit. I have had some fun times, and some not so fun times along the way with it, but now its time to go our separate ways.
It’s not you, Beer… it’s me. I’ve changed.