I appear to be currently alcohol-free and no, I’m not talking about running out of hand sanitiser #topicaljoke #washyourhands #nobodypanic

It just sort of happened really and now I’m nearing the end of my third week including one Gin Night event (Seedlip — delicious and gin-y tasting without the hangover) and a family dinner (sparkling water and some raised eyebrows).

I was brought up in pubs and am well used to the idea of social/sociable drinking. I think I spent most of my late teens and early twenties in a haze of hungover irritability assuming hair of the dog was a real cure and that alcohol went hand in hand with a Marlboro light. Working in the TV industry meant endless mid-week invitations, late nights, early mornings, walks of shame, full-fat coke and copious egg and bacon sandwiches from M&S (seriously, the best hangover cure ever — well, apart from not drinking in the first place obviously!)

Now a shade over 25 (ahem), and like most of the UK, I felt I’d overdone it a bit after Christmas. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do Dry January though — frankly it felt too soon, plus we had loads of alcohol left in the house that would have gone to waste. I decided to do Dry February instead and a quick tot up of the maths shows you that after a few days I failed miserably at that too. Not drinking but shrouding it in a title gave it a largeness and importance that made my brain instantly rebel— you can’t fail, you can’t go out, you can’t drink, you’re doing *drum roll* ‘DRY FEBRUARY”. No. Just no.

Along came March. I’d been doing surprisingly well at the old “Quick! Lose a million stone in time for your summer holiday” routine and soon noticed that the willpower wasn’t quite as strong when I’d had a cheeky half bottle of red the night before. Standing in front of the snack cupboard one afternoon reaching in and back out again in some awkward chocolate-craving version of the hokey-cokey, wasn’t so much an epiphany but definitely a small light bulb pinged on. I was a walking, talking functioning hangover and I was craving carbs and sugar and sleep and caffeine and a bit later would probably reward myself with more alcohol for getting through the day without eating everything in site! Alcohol was being used as my evening reward. A “well done on a brilliant day, have a glass of wine”, or a “what a terrible day, have a glass of wine”, or “there’s a half bottle open so you should drink it before it goes off, day?!”.

And so I have currently decided to actively choose to not drink. I’m most definitely not giving up or cutting it out. I’m just making a decision today not to drink. And tomorrow I will probably come to the same conclusion. And the day after, too. Now that boozy nights are actually not so scary to attend while sober, I might keep going. Or I might not. We shall see. But either way, it’s my choice.

Some benefits to being alcohol-free:

Spots: Seriously, a massive spot currently on my forehead and one on my chin. Just wtaf?! It’s been three weeks of choosing not to drink, aren’t I supposed to be looking ten years younger and a stone lighter by now?! Why the acne? As I slather on the coverup stick I wisely tell myself this must be “impurities” coming out. A quick google tells me it probably is.

Finances: I’m approx £30 a week better off by not drinking. As an adopted northerner, I can’t help but be quite proud of that.

Better sleep: As someone who suffers constantly with hip and back pain a decent night’s sleep is a thing of the past. These last few weeks I think I am starting to feel a difference. I’m feeling tired at night when I’m supposed to and waking up not so tired in the morning. A complete novelty for me!

Better skin — spots notwithstanding, my skin is less red or dry — I did a skype call with a client earlier and (hair placed strategically over the spot) didn’t spend the entire call looking at my own face wondering where it had all gone so horribly wrong!

Smug. I genuinely feel satisfied with my decision. I’ve not given up alcohol, I’m just choosing not to have it today. 

Thea Hutchings – EqUa Coaching

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