I had some beer the other night for only the second time this month. I was unimpressed. It is interesting how when I’m drinking a beer I am often thinking about the next one. When something can’t be fully enjoyed because you’re already thinking about the next whatever thing it is, that’s probably a good clue into whether that thing is good for you or not.
Though there may be some enjoyment during the act of drinking, for me the end result is always the same: degraded sleep that night and sluggishness the next morning. Whatever temporary good feelings drinking produces are rarely worth these consequences to me anymore.
I think drinking is making a slow exit from my life. For the past few years, I have been experimenting with alcohol-free periods. This was first inspired by a podcast I heard with the founders of One Year, No Beer. I’ve taken several month-long breaks from drinking and took a 90-day hiatus from it in 2017.
Living in New Zealand provided a further impetus for decreasing the amount of alcohol I consume. The price of a good beer there is high, and so I found it harder to justify the expense. While there, I also read some enlightening books about alcohol by Annie Grace. If you’re curious about the true effects of alcohol and a discussion of how it has become such an ingrained part of our culture, I highly recommend reading one or both of them. Spoiler: no matter what you might hear in the news about alcohol having health benefits, the negative effects on our bodies and society are far greater.
What do I notice when I take long breaks from drinking?
- I have more energy
- I sleep better
- I get more done
- I am more in touch with my feelings, both the positive and the painful ones
- I am less moody
- I am a better partner to my spouse
- I say fewer things that I later regret
- I save money
- I am a better version of me
Seems obvious from those observations that I should never pop the top off a bottle of beer again. But I still have so many positive associations with alcohol. Like watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico with beer and good friends, hatching new ideas while sitting in the square of a Spanish town while enjoying a bottle of wine, and making unexpected connections with people I probably would have never met had I not sat next to them at a bar. The thing is, all of that stuff could have happened without the alcohol.
Right now I like that things are naturally taking their course and I am increasingly losing interest in drinking. But I want to be conscious about nudging that trend along. I will be participating in Sober October this year, refraining from drinking alcohol for the entire month. If you’d like to explore your relationship with alcohol, please join me in undertaking this challenge. Leading up to and in conjunction with Sober October, I’ll be publishing a series of posts about my relationship with alcohol and how it has been evolving over time.