I recently wrote an article on Huff Post UK about giving up alcohol.
At first, I worried that the piece was too negative – and my no-booze experience has been mostly the opposite – but then I received some lovely comments about the article on social media.
It was also shared by a couple of accounts that support those wanting to change their drinking habits, and seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
So, in keeping with this positivity, here are five good things I’ve discovered after three months of not drinking.
1.You WILL look better if you don’t drink – even if no-one tells you as much
The so-called ‘vanity argument’ for laying off the booze seems shallow in comparison to the serious issues associated with heavy drinking, but it was a key factor in my decision to change my habits.
Before quitting, I used to love reading accounts from teetotallers on how their lives and looks had been transformed by sobriety.
“Friends said I was a different woman, they couldn’t believe how well I looked.” Etc etc.
A year of sh*t new-mum sleep, plus regular binge drinking, was making me feel crap and look crap, but after a few weeks off the booze, I felt and looked better. Hurrah.
I waited for the compliments to roll in.
I am still waiting for the compliments to roll in.
EXCUSE ME, FRIENDS. HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED THAT I AM MARGINALLY BUT DEFINITELY LESS HAGGARD THAN I WAS THREE MONTHS AGO??
Apparently they haven’t.
BUT! To anyone as vain as me who is wondering if quitting booze really does improve one’s appearance: do not despair.
A few people I’d not seen in a while said I looked ‘well’.
I took Olay’s ‘what is your skin age?’ online test, (yes, really), which said my skin age is four years less than my real age. I’ll take that, even if they are just trying to flog me moisturiser.
My eyes aren’t as wonky as before. I know I sound ridiculous and vainer than ever, but one of my eyes is naturally a bit narrower than the other; not drinking has made them less uneven. Honestly! Perhaps because they’re not as puffy.
Moral of the story: boozing less definitely improves physical appearance, but people are often too wrapped up in their own lives to notice improvements in others. How bloody dare they, eh?!
Right. I’m moving away from the mirror now and onto point 2.
2.Going to a gig sober is better than going to a gig drunk
I’m focusing on gigs here because I’ve loved watching live music (drunk) since I was a teen.
I’ve been to a few gigs this summer and I can honestly say that I enjoyed them more for not having a drink.
I remembered all the songs played. I didn’t miss any of the action due to being at the bar or on the toilet. I could drive home.
Also – and yes, I sound like a judgemental twit but… – it was hard not to feel a little bit smug while looking at the very drunk people around me. One of the gigs I went to was Lionel Richie. Oh yes. Lionel Richie on a Tuesday night, and a few people had to be escorted out before the end because they couldn’t stand up. Yikes.
3.Beck’s Blue can feel like enough of a treat for a Friday night, and Brewdog Nanny State ale makes me a bit light-headed
Both are great, and have helped me stay away from wine and beer. Clare Pooley’s brilliant blog is a brilliant resource for finding new alcohol-free alternatives. Tesco’s gin-free G&T is awful, rosé Fever Tree tonic is lovely.
4.Sober social situations can be much easier than anticipated
I went to a party a few weeks ago and had a really good time. This is noteworthy because, before the party, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t know many people there and I’d get the mick taken out of me for not drinking and/or would feel pressured into having a drink.
As it turned out, I knew a lot of the other guests and it was great to catch up with them. What’s more, some of these people DON’T DRINK. And we all had a very nice time without having to constantly go to the bar for booze. WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT IT?
5.Being sober hasn’t completely overhauled my life – but the benefits are undeniable
In point 1, I (half)joked about expecting a sober transformation.
I haven’t experienced a transformation as such. I’ve still procrastinated over work; I still tell Graham off for leaving dirty nappies upstairs and snap at him when he talks to me while I’m reading.
But the benefits of not drinking are clear for me to see (even if no-one’s noticed my slightly-less-haggard-than-before visage).
It’s clichéd and sounds drippy but life is calmer without hangovers; it is easier to notice and appreciate the little things that make life good. A transformation isn’t necessary.
As I said in my original piece, it would be wonderful if the wider conversation around drinking started to highlight the many benefits of sobriety, and recognised that not everyone is into the same old boring DRINK DRINK DRINK chat.
Bye for now x