At 27 years old, I had not gone 30 days without alcohol since I was legally allowed to drink. For a long time I had wanted to put a stop to this pattern of behavior. I wanted to teach myself that I didn’t need a drink at every social function and I didn’t need alcohol to “relax” after a tough day at work. I wanted to stop myself from reaching for alcohol every time I felt bored or uncomfortable. So when my husband asked if I wanted to complete a 30 day sobriety challenge with him, I immediately agreed. I wasn’t sure what this experience would bring, but I learned a lot in our 30 days of purposeful sobriety. This challenge helped me…
Redefine the purpose of alcohol in my life.
While I liked to imagine that I only ever drank during social events with friends and family, the truth was that a stressful day at work or a dull Saturday afternoon would often end with me reaching for an alcoholic beverage from our fridge. The justification was easy. After all, what was the harm in just one drink? I didn’t have a problem, but I didn’t like the habit. Why did I need alcohol after every stressful day? Why couldn’t a puzzle or game satisfy my boring weekend afternoon? Why did every social event have to revolve around drinking? Taking away the option of reaching for a beer or a glass a wine showed me that I didn’t need alcohol to “get through” any of these occasions.
Reflect on my habits and social insecurities.
The first seven days of this challenge were easy! Around day 10, however… I turned angry. And I don’t mean just a little crabby angry. I mean angry angry. Angry at my husband for “tricking me” into doing such a ridiculous challenge (which is not actually true). Angry that I was on my way to my best friend’s bridal shower, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the libations. I quickly realized that it wouldn’t be called a “challenge” if it were easy to complete.
During each of the social functions that I attended during our month without alcohol, I had to learn how to function and find happiness in sobriety. Do you want to know what I realized? It is perfectly possible to have fun with friends and family without alcohol. In fact, there is almost no difference in the level of fun I experience without drinking versus when I am drinking, and this lesson amazed me.
Gain energy and use my time more productively after work.
I never realized how alcohol makes me such a slug. After a rough day at work, it would not be uncommon for me to get home, pour a beer, and sit on the couch. Several episodes of TV later, I would be faced with the realization that I had just spent 3 hours on the couch and done absolutely nothing. Typically, I would shrug my shoulders and convince myself that whatever needed to be done could get done tomorrow… only to fall into another trap of “it was a stressful day and I need a drink” less than 24 hours later.
Without drinking, I get home and focus on things that I want to do. For example, I might work on a new recipe, play with the cat, work out, paint my nails, or even read a book! Without a glass of beer or wine sitting in my hand, I have found freedom in moving around our home with focused energy and motivation.
The other best thing about not drinking for 30 days? 30 mornings without a hangover. My husband and I have reclaimed our weekend mornings. We wake up early, go for long bike rides, take walks, read, and enjoy a warm cup of coffee on the couch together. Sundays are so much better when I’m not nursing a hangover.
Remember that my husband and I can have fun together without alcohol.
On our first weekend of shared sobriety, my husband asked if I wanted to watch a movie with him. I agreed to, but I also secretly wondered if a movie without a shared bottle of red wine would be a bummer. Guess what, though? It was honestly enjoyable! As it turns out, it isn’t alcohol that makes weekends fun. It’s the people that I’m with and the things that we do together. If that’s not a great lesson, I’m not sure what is.
Recognize signs of negative habits and challenge them head on.
After day 20 of this challenge, I realized that I wanted to complete a 30-day sobriety challenge every 6 months. Negative habits are things that we do repetitively without question or reflection. For me, drinking alcohol is a negative habit that I know I will need to continuously break. Scheduling in periods of purposeful sobriety will help me recognize bad habits and challenge them head on. If you are looking to change your relationship with alcohol, I suggest you grab an accountability partner and start your 30 day challenge today. You won’t be disappointed!