Every Friday, you can receive the Joy Journal, which will give you information, inspiration and tips that you can use in your pursuit for joy.
A personal journey.
Raise your hand if alcohol is one of your primary ways to unwind—at the end of the day, at the end of the week, whenever you feel like you need to de-stress?
That was certainly me.
During the height of my burnout journey, I just wanted to feel numb at the end of busy weeks—to shut off my brain for a while. More recently as I’ve learned ways to deal with the stress better, I would still indulge on a Friday night to whoop it up and transition into the weekend.
I’ve often pondered going dry. I even tried it a few times, but it felt like punishment, and I rarely made it past the first Friday. It was kind like my personal experience with Lent—an externally imposed motivator/sacrifice that lacked meaning and purpose for me. Where’s the gain from the pain?
This summer, I had a medical procedure that prompted me to re-examine my relationship with alcohol, and I’ve started on a sober curious journey. For my recovery, I really needed to not drink. No one specifically told me that I couldn’t, but consuming alcohol would only prolong my recovery and potentially cause other problems. So, I banned it…while on vacation in Italy and Croatia. What?!?!?!?!
Candidly, it was really difficult. I love wine from both of those countries. It’s vacation. You’re supposed to live a little. And alcohol is EVERYWHERE! Never really realized how pervasive it is until now.
But I stuck with it, and here are a few things that I’ve learned on my 2.5 month journey so far:
Find your “why”. Having an intrinsic motivator will help you tremendously when you’re tempted.
Examine your triggers. What are those situations or occasions where you seemingly automatically include alcohol? End of the workday. Friday nights. Vacation. Getting together with friends. Networking events. Stress reliever.
Disconnect alcohol from the occasion. Experience having fun without the alcohol. Build confidence that you can actually enjoy the moment sober.
Plan more “doing” rather than “consuming” activities. My go-to activity with friends was getting together for dinner, which always involved drinking. Now, I look for events where there is something to do so it’s not all about sitting, eating and drinking.
Focus on what you gain rather than what you give up. This may sound weird, but I have fallen in love with feeling good—healthy, energetic, inspired. Rather than “giving up” drinking on a Friday night, I have gained feeling awesome in the morning. Now I find that I want that “awesome” feeling more than I want a drink.
Don’t make it “all or nothing”. A complete moratorium feels like punishment. So, when I’m craving a Guinness or my favorite wine, I have it. And now I find that one glass is usually enough, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
There is so much more to say on this topic, and I am happy to chat personally with any of you about it. Because so many of us use alcohol to deal with stress, I thought I would humbly offer my experience if this is something that you have been thinking about, as well.
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