Image via the NYT.
Last month, I decided to challenge myself to 30 days of not drinking. I have to admit, I did not think it would be possible for me to do. It's not that I am a heavy drinker per se, but I am definitely very social and find myself meeting up with friends multiple times a week to hang out and catch up. And what do we do when we get together? We enjoy wine, beer and the occasional cocktail. All of this is pretty normal, right? Yes, perhaps. But after a very fun summer and with the approach of fall and winter holiday parties, I knew I wanted to take a step back from the busy pace of my life and have a solid month to cleanse and reflect.
So because I knew it would be challenging, I prepared myself by sending an email to the friends I hang out with often. I asked them for support. And obviously, being the most amazing friends that they are, they wrote back heartfelt emails offering just that. I felt that the more open I was about it, the more people wanted to help.
The first week was hard. It was Labor Day weekend, a friend was in town, and there was a lot going on. But despite not drinking, I still went out and enjoyed myself. I ordered seltzer, sometimes with lime. When I was tempted to break my rule, my friends wouldn't let me. Talking about it helped. In fact, I had to catch myself from talking about it too much. It was all I could think about, so sometimes when I was out at a bar or party, I found myself telling complete strangers that I was sober. I probably talked about it so much, that people probably thought I was inebriated. But honestly, talking about it was helping me deal. Like if I said it aloud, I was being held accountable.
Then in week two, things got a bit easier. I started doing yoga. I was going to bed earlier and I was sleeping better. By week three, I was feeling great. I found myself being more engaged and focused. I was enjoying real conversations with people and remembering them the next day. I didn't feel foggy or scatterbrained, the way I sometimes feel on Saturday and Sunday mornings. And in addition, I was being more productive and efficient. Faster and quicker. I felt like there was more room in my head.
I do not think this all has to do with not drinking. However, the combination of doing yoga and with that, focusing on my breath and movement, all allowed me to find my center and feel reenergized and invigorated. Maybe it is all psychosomatic, but I suddenly felt strong, like my muscles had strengthened overnight.
By week four, I was feeling really proud of myself. It's been a long time since I've felt challenged and it was great to have achieved my goal. Now that the month is over, I have started drinking again, but I think my little experiment has given me a new perspective and my priorities have shifted. I don't need to stay out the latest or order the coolest drinks (my old faves? Manhattans made with rye whisky or Jameson and soda. Talk about showing off.) I am okay with ordering light beer! I go home at a decent hour! I say no when I want to. And more than anything, I've stopped being so hard on myself.
How about you guys? Have you ever done anything similar? Perhaps a cleanse, diet, marathon training? I'd love to hear about your experience!