Let me start by saying that I have absolutely nothing against drinking or anyone who does – I used to drink plenty myself! However, I had a few people reach out after I posted that I was officially one year alcohol free, so I thought I would explain why I made that choice, and my tips for living alcohol free.
Why I gave up alcohol
This was not a choice that I made overnight. I drank less and less over time as I realized how sick it was making me feel. After taking a break for a while, I realized how much better I was feeling, and didn’t feel like it would be worth starting up again. Here are the main reasons why I started with a break:
- I was getting hangovers no matter how little I drank
- I think we can all agree that hangovers don’t feel good, and I started getting that feeling after having as little as one drink. A bell went off for me when one of my friends told me that it wasn’t normal. I think I was getting such bad hangovers because my body was already in a state of major inflammation. So, for me, this started for health reasons and I truly believe it was necessary to help me fully heal from the damage caused by my gluten intolerance.
- I didn’t like feeling dependent on it to have fun
- A lot of events are centered around alcohol. Hanging out with friends, work parties, holidays – it feels like all of them sometimes. I started to struggle with the fact that fun was equated with alcohol, and I didn’t want to feel like I needed that crutch to have fun.
- It was making it harder to achieve my goals
- I had a huge goal last year of running a marathon! No matter how little I drank, I could feel it on my runs. I wanted to feel my best.
- I hate the feeling of not remembering things/being out of control
- This one speaks for itself – I hate not remembering things that have happened, or not having complete control over what I say or do. Yes alcohol makes for some super fun nights, but I felt like if I wasn’t remembering them…. what was the point?
- Alcohol causes anxiety
- I was dealing with anxiety that was mainly caused by my health issues, but it would get so much worse after I drank. Alcohol is super fun at the time, but I always found myself feeling stressed, sad or anxious the day after. I started to realize that the fun wasn’t worth the aftermath, especially considering I could still have fun without it. I think we’ve all heard of the “Sunday Scaries” – it is a real thing, and in my opinion alcohol makes it so much worse! I am proud to say that I am now in a place where my anxiety is almost nonexistent, and I definitely think this played a part.
- The money that I was spending at bars was starting to add up
- It’s no secret that alcohol is expensive, especially if you are out clubbing or at bars. Buying fancy drinks for yourself (and friends!) is a great time, but can really start to add up when you are doing it regularly. I started to realize that I no longer wanted to allocate so much money towards something that wasn’t contributing to my overall happiness, and instead start using that money to save for things that would. I actually touched on this in my post on buying an investment bag! This is not to say that buying drinks can’t contribute to your happiness (it definitely can if you’re having a good time!), or that you can’t buy alcohol in moderation – this was just one of the contributing factors for me personally.
My tips for living alcohol free
Some people reached out saying that they were thinking about giving up alcohol, but were worried about being judged or pressured to keep drinking. I completely get it, because I went through the same thing! I was worried that my friends would want to stop making plans with me, but everyone has actually been very supportive. Here are my tips:
- Be honest!
- If you tell your friends that you are giving up alcohol, they will most likely be supportive. I was so nervous to tell people (again, so much of life is centered around it), but typically people just ask why and then move on. If it is for health reasons or to help you achieve your goals, say that!
- Hold a drink
- If for whatever reason you don’t want to tell someone you aren’t drinking or if you continue to be pressured, just hold a drink! If you are able to get a soda water or something else non-alcoholic, even better. Half the time no one will even notice you aren’t drinking it.
- Don’t feel like you can’t still have fun
- I was always worried that people would think I wasn’t fun if I wasn’t drinking, and honestly I think it made me a little uptight. You can still have fun! I actually think I am way more entertained being the only sober one, and seeing that hilarious things that happen that I probably wouldn’t have remembered otherwise.
- Start small!
- If this is a change you have been thinking about making, start by cutting back and see how you feel! Like I said, I drank less and less over time, until I got to the point where I legitimately didn’t want it anymore. You can start by trying to pass on shots (these add up quickly) or that “one more drink” you weren’t sure you wanted in the first place. Sip your drink slowly and enjoy it!
- Make alternate plans
- I have gotten more creative with my plans since I gave up alcohol, especially when it comes to hanging out with my friends. Go on a hike, go shopping, get lunch, go bowling – there is so much else to do! If you do something like bowling, lunch or dinner, your friends can still drink if they want and you won’t feel left out 🙂
I want to reiterate that I don’t think there is anything wrong with drinking. It is a choice that I personally made, and I have found that it makes me feel much better. I will not lie and say that I don’t feel a little left out sometimes, but overall everyone has been very supportive and it has been worth it for me. Please don’t continue drinking if it is something that you want to give up because you feel pressure. Some people have said this to me already, and I have been there and felt the same. Ultimately, your happiness is up to you, whether it involves drinking or not!