Many people stop drinking for a period of time and then go back to drinking, which is absolutely fine if that’s what you want. However, being alcohol free brings so many benefits and Brené Brown describes it this way, “…Sobriety isn’t a ‘have to’ – it’s a superpower”. So, if that’s the case, how do you stay alcohol free and discover your superpower, well in this article, I’ll tell you what has helped me and maybe it will inspire you to give it a try. As, I truly believe being alcohol free helps you thrive, reach your full potential and live your best life and who doesn’t want that!
Since ditching alcohol, I have found that two things have kept me grounded and given me the natural endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, which are the reward chemical, the pain killer and the mood stabilizer, which are ultimately happiness chemicals. This has meant that I no longer need the buzz that I thought alcohol used to give me and it seems many people who are alcohol free are doing the same.
A couple of months after I’d stopped drinking for what was initially only going to be for 21 days, I started to do yoga. This was something I’d tried before but I couldn’t take it seriously and would end up giggling, not being able to sit still and breathe without thinking a thousand thoughts and feeling distracted.
This time was different though and I really enjoyed breathing, stretching and doing downward dog and sun salutations…I ended up doing yoga every night from the 9th of January 2021 and that has pretty much been part of my evening routine since. It has grounded me, given me time to unwind and relax after a day at work or play.
In February 2021, I also decided to do a 10K programme. I had tried “Couch to 5K” a year earlier but got bored after 6 weeks. In hindsight, when you are drinking, it’s hard to feel motivated and start a new habit. I was used to HIIT and strength training, which I did 6 days a week bit just didn’t find the running / walking approach exciting.
Anyway, this time was different. The challenge of running 10K was thrilling, as I wasn’t sure I could do it but being alcohol free makes you brave and think you can achieve anything, so I went for it. I followed the programme, which was a combination of running and strength training and something clicked.
I started to really look around me when I ran, I took in nature, I felt I had time to think and dream while I listened to my running playlist. I came back energised ready to tackle the day! Then the day came for me to do 10k and I completed it and that was it, I officially had the running bug!
It’s so interesting as many people who have stopped drinking are doing either running or yoga or both. I believe it’s because you are more present and aware and develop clarity over time through doing these. They also give you natural highs!
Over the past year, I’ve had a few health issues, which I’m sure would have been worse if I still drinking but yoga and running have helped me to get through these when I’ve felt down or wanted to process my emotions.
So, how do you stay alcohol free for over two years, yoga and running or any exercise that excites you! I know a lot of people who have taken up cold water swimming since becoming alcohol free…I have loved running and yoga and it has given me something to look forward to that is healthy and good for me instead of automatically reaching for a drink.
The reason I think yoga and running are so great is they focus on both the mental and physical, so you are more mindful about the whole you and have the tools to cope with life without needing to turn to alcohol. When you do them regularly, life gets better, as you are more present, have greater awareness and clarity. This allows you to tap into the superpower of being alcohol free!
Yoga has been my go to, no matter what type of day I’ve had. Once I am a few minutes into the practice, I start to feel better just breathing helps me to manage any emotions I may be feeling. Once I come off the mat, my state of mind has changed for the better.
Through running, I have now completed several 5Ks and 10Ks plus two Half Marathons and have a ballot place on the London Marathon next year, which is so exciting!
I have also seen rabbits, various birds and a muntjac deer on my runs plus seasonal changes, different coloured leaves on trees, various cloud formations and rolling fields plus towns and cities in completely different lights compared to driving around them.
So, if you’re thinking “I’d like to stop drinking but what will I do instead to relax, unwind” (any other word you associate with drinking), trust me, you will find something you enjoy that is healthier but gives you a real lust for life and before you know it, you’ll find you are living your best life and alcohol is no longer a thing!