I have always been a sucker for alcohol; I am very open about my complex relationship with alcohol. During my 20s I would consider myself very comfortable in letting alcohol be a part of my lifestyle. The weekend drinking sessions, the blackouts, hospital visits, I’ve had them all. What I thought was simply a part of just growing up soon turned into a realisation that maybe, just maybe, I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Towards the end of my 20s, I cut back on alcohol. I soon realised that the reason I constantly felt like shit was due to one certain aspect of my life, alcohol. I am not an anxious person, but as I grew older; I noticed that after a drinking session my anxiety was beyond fucked for almost 2 weeks after my last drink. I limited my drinking, avoid social events, and keep myself comforted/locked at home. I soon discovered that my anxiety or “hangxiety” disappeared and I felt my usual self.
3 months ago, on the last day of my honeymoon, I decided I was going to have a little break from alcohol. Initially, I expected the break to be 1-2 months at best as this is how long I usually last before I cave and crack a cold one. 3 months in, and yet I still have not cracked. I have, however, noticed a few changes since getting dry and adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Here’s what I've noticed since not drinking for 3 months:
Easily the most noticeable change is my sleep patterns. While drinking, my sleep pattern is ruined. No matter how much sleep I get, I just simply cannot feel rested. It took a while but after a month I was waking feeling rested. I've noticed that I tend to sleep less these days and wake up feeling well-rested. There is, of course, the odd occasion where I have a terrible night's sleep or feel the need to nap in the day, but overall, my sleep pattern is decent.
Long gone are the days of dragging myself through Monday to Friday to only sink a few on the weekends. Weeks going like this, hungover, shit mood, poor sleep, and taking close to a week to feel normal again. Once the weekend comes, I'm back to square one, a vicious cycle. This undoubtedly left me in a shitty mood. I have found since having a break my mood has been consistent/improved.
No fucking anxiety
I am prone to suffering from panic attacks when I’m hungover. What's worse is that this anxiety can sometimes linger for close to a week. When Monday rolls around after a heavy weekend, I dread going back into the office. The slightest problem and I’m making mountains out of molehills. Since going dry, my anxiety has been little to absolute none.
Picking up old hobbies
With all my free time on weekends, I find I'm picking up old hobbies I thought I had no time for. On the weekends I mostly surf but recently I’ve discovered I now have extra time to get back into skateboarding. Knowing I won't wake up feeling like shit on Sundays certainly gives me an excuse to go for an early morning skate.
With better sleep comes more energy. Long gone are the days of waking up, struggling through a hangover only to have no energy the next day. Since having a break, I have certainly noticed a huge spike in my energy levels. No afternoon crashes, no sleeping in late, and no falling asleep randomly after a few drinks!
This one is a no brainer. No longer am I literally pissing my money up a wall. Instead, I’m saving quite a noticeable amount and buying myself things I would usually feel guilty about. I can’t lie, but on a typical night out it wouldn’t be unusual to spend close to $200 - $250 on a night out!
Better outlook on life
Stepping on the frames of woo woo but with reduced anxiety, better sleep, and improved mood, I certainly have a better outlook on day-to-day life. The fact I am getting extra time to do the things I truly love also contributes to seeing things in a positive light. It makes sense. Spending my free time doing something productive certainly gives you a sense of achievement and helps build healthy habits.
Healthy lifestyle changes
Again, not to sound spiritual or awakened, but I feel like it's easier to adopt healthier lifestyle changes when alcohol is not involved. No longer and I am smashing fast food after a night, filling myself with booze and liquor. No longer am I refusing to surf because I’m still too pissed from the night before to even walk, let alone drive. My weekends are now spent being outdoors and doing the things I love instead of spending most of the day drinking my own body weight in beer at the local tavern. Will I go back to drinking? Right now, I’m in no rush. The way I see it, I’ve come this far what's a little longer? So far, I am shocked at how much things have changed since going teetotal. Although the experiences are different for every person, overall, most people would experience the same benefits, give or take. What's worse is I never really knew the underlining problem of so much I struggle with in my life e.g. sleep, mood, energy, can all be traced back to swapping beer for water. Fuck, I do miss having a good old drinking session, don’t get me wrong. For now, it's safe to say, you won’t catch me at the bottleo anytime soon!