Before you read this, no, I’m not in Alcoholics Anonymous nor do I need to be (not that there’s anything wrong with those who do). My friends and I wanted to be sober for a month at some point during the year as part of our “things to do before the end of the year” list and I’ve decided to do mine now (well, over the last month). Here is a diary I’ve been keeping over the last month of how not drinking has affected my life:
Pre-drinking habits: I didn’t drink (aside from casual drinks during my summer in Canada) until I came to the United Kingdom. Now, my drinking patterns tend to look something like a casual drink once a week or so and a not so casual drink (or five) once a week or once every other week. However, I understand my limits (mostly because I don’t push them in the first place) and am usually the one that makes sure everyone gets home in one piece. A few things have changed since I started drinking: accompanied with the lack of exercise facilities, I’ve probably gained a bit of weight, although it’s probably not noticeable to anyone else but myself, and the occasional late night usually throws off my sleeping schedule for a few days. Although this usually doesn’t matter as it’s usually on a weekend, sleeping until two in the afternoon makes me anxious that I’ve lost most of my day, regardless of what day it is, that could have gone towards doing something productive.
For the last month, I lived life like (try saying that five times fast) I usually would, but without alcohol, and this is how it went:
Week 1: A few days after I decided to give this sober challenge a try, my friends and I went out for the first time. I was originally going to start my sober challenge after this night, but I knew there was always going to be a reason to drink, so I decided to bite the bullet and look at reasons not to drink. We danced the night away at an alternative music night at a club by the sea. I had a similar energy level and enthusiasm I would have had after a few drinks, but my friends were “knackered” about an hour before the event ended so I went back with them, although I could have stayed for longer. The next day, I still felt like I had a hangover; especially fatigued with a bit of a headache, however, I’m sure it would have been much worse if I actually drank.
Week 2: This entire week was spent in Germany. I’m a little bummed I didn’t get to try German beer, but even though no matter how good someone tells me beer is, it’s always repulsive to me. I usually don’t drink on travel anyway, so this week didn’t affect me much. I would have loved to be able to go out and enjoy Berlin nightlife, but, again, I typically don’t drink or go out on travel, especially when I only have a few days to make the most of that can’t be wasted away recovering from a night out.
Week 3: I’ve been getting a better night’s sleep recently, but I’m not sure if being sober has anything to do with it. I’m almost positive it’s my body trying to recover from all the walking I did in Germany. I had another few nights out, but I now realize that my typical night out drinking patterns don’t seriously affect my energy level, enthusiasm or personality. I’ve never necessarily felt the need to drink before going out as if it would make me more fun to be around, it’s just something fun my friends and I do. However, this week was the first time I could have gone for a drink for no particular reason, but I’m glad I’m seeing this through as an exercise of self-control. On another note, I’ve been more active this week as there were free sports events; I went to “football,” capture the flag, volleyball and a few forest walks on my own. I forgot how great getting active makes me feel and will definitely make more time to get moving a few times a week.
Week 4: My last week or so went by really quickly. I visited Budapest and although I usually don’t drink on travel, it would have been nice to have a casual drink or two because everything is relatively cheap there. I also didn’t go out this week, but I could have gone for a casual drink, especially over catching up with my friends Rachel and Craig in Budapest. Lastly, my friends and I do karaoke often and I definitely liked being sober for that, it made remembering the words and matching the tune easier, although I could have gone for one pint to take the edge off.
All in all, this challenge wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, which I feel is a good thing. In retrospect, I suppose it was easy because alcohol doesn’t play an outstanding role in my life. My health and other aspects of my life (for example, my studies) didn’t seem heavily effected one way or another, at least over the course of a month. The positive results I saw from an alcohol-free month were most likely due to other factors. For example, I got active more often, but that was only because on-campus recreational sports were free last week.
However, I’m (mostly) glad I did this as an exercise of self-control and will probably have more sober nights in the future (mostly to save money) now that I know it isn’t so bad.