This post is part of an ongoing series titled Things That Have Improved Your Life.
In this series, I welcome readers of this blog to share an improvement they’ve made in their life. This improvement could be anything – from a new diet or exercise plan to a certain place visited or person they’ve met.
I then ask questions as to how their life has improved, and whether they would recommend others try to make this same thing possible in their own lives.
Today’s interview takes place with Alison Wilson.
Alison describes how her life improved when she made the decision to give up drinking alcohol. She didn’t plan on this being a longterm thing, but the effects were too good to pass up on.
I’m Alison, I’m 40 something and live in North East England with my husband and two
I work full time in Human Resources for the NHS and also run my own blog – Little Blog of
What Improvement Have You Made to Your Life?
On the 2nd December 2017, whilst suffering from a massive hangover, I decided to take
a short break from alcohol.
My husband’s initial reaction to this was “But it’s Christmas!” I responded that it wasn’t Christmas for another 3 weeks and that I was going to have a
drink on Christmas Day.
I had signed up with a community called One Year No Beer who run alcohol-free
challenges of varying durations, 28 days, 90 days and 365 days.
I signed up for 90 days but really wasn’t sure whether I would actually make it to 90 days! I thought I would try for a fortnight and see how it went.
I did have a couple of drinks on Christmas Day but decided to just knock a day off my total
and keep going. I reached the 90 days and although 365 seemed like too much of a promise to make, I didn’t really want alcohol by that point so thought I would see how long I could keep going.
I’m now only just over a month away from the 365 and I can honestly say that I never want
to drink again! The positive changes it has on my life are simply too dramatic to undo.
Why Did You Decide to Try Taking a Break from Alcohol in the First Place?
I had been questioning my relationship with alcohol for a number of years and was concerned about the effects it was having on my health. I wouldn’t say that I was a ‘heavy’ drinker by a lot of people’s standards.
Yes, I was consuming double (and a bit more) of the UK government’s recommended limits, but I saw others drinking the same… and more.
Like a lot of people in the UK, I had fallen into the ‘wind down with a glass of wine or two’ trap. What started as a few glasses of wine at the weekend gradually morphed into the best part of a bottle of wine most evenings. I would say I had a low-level hangover pretty much every day for about 15 years!
It took quite a long time of questioning myself (and googling ‘do I have an alcohol problem’) before I had the courage to do something about it.
I had tried to cut down. I would be full of good intentions but then come ‘wine ‘o’ clock’ a little voice in my head would tell me I deserved a drink.
If I’d had a good day the voice would tell me I deserved to celebrate. If I’d had a bad day it would tell me I needed it to help me de-stress.
I hated the control it had over me and I knew the only way was to take a break from it all together.
I had signed up to the mailing list of an organisation called The Sober School. They would send me weekly emails, on a Monday, at about 5pm. I noticed that reading the email would often stop me going to the shop and buying wine on a Monday.
An advert for One Year No Beer then popped up a few times in my Facebook feed. (I assume due to me googling ‘do I have an alcohol problem?!’)
So, on that hungover day in December I finally decided to sign up! One Year No Beer promised a support community and 90 days worth of emails, each and every day. I thought that if that didn’t stop me drinking, nothing would!
How Has Your Life Improved Since – Can You Give an Example?
Where do I begin?!
The most dramatic change I noticed was the improvement in my mental health. I have been an anxious person and a bit of a stress head for most of my life. In the last few months before stopping drinking, my anxiety levels were high. I felt tearful and unable to cope a lot of the time.
This stopped within about a fortnight and hasn’t returned!
Don’t get me wrong, I do still get stressed. I’ve dealt with family illness and bereavement this year and have inevitably experienced a wide range of emotions. I think that is perhaps the point though. I now deal with whatever emotions come up instead of numbing them for them to pop back up twice as fierce the next day.
Other benefits include:
- I sleep better
- I have more clarity and focus
- No more hangovers!
- No worrying about taxis or how to get back from places
- Remembering nights out and the conversations I’ve had with people
- All this extra energy I have
- I’ve got more money
- I started my blog!
- I’ve met some amazing people and made friends through the One Year No Beer community
- I have discovered a huge variety of things I can drink, including some fantastic alcohol-free beers
- I can eat pudding without putting weight on!
- My skin, hair and eyes look better
Would You Recommend Other People Give This a Go? If So, How Should They Start?
Most people I talk to about this say ‘well done, but I couldn’t do it’. They worry about peer pressure or feel like they would be giving too much up.
I say, that if I can do it, anyone can! It’s about a change in mindset. I won’t lie that it is easy to do, but with the right tools and support, anyone can give it a go. You can start small like I did (a fortnight seemed a very long time to me at the beginning). Just to get a week under your belt is a massive achievement if you are someone who drank most days as I did.
I would definitely recommend checking out One Year No Beer. I couldn’t have done this without the email and community support. There is also a couple of life-changing books I recommend to everyone who asks how I did this.
This Naked Mind – Annie Grace
Alcohol Explained – William Porter
I listened to them on audiobook around about wine ‘o’ clock for the first few weeks when the cravings were hitting!
I would also recommend letting people know you are taking a break from alcohol. Perhaps there is someone you know who will egg you on to drink or call you boring? Why not drop them an email explaining that you are off booze for a month so you won’t be drinking on your night out next Saturday.
And finally, check out the alcohol-free beers available in most supermarkets now. The range is growing all the time! If you don’t like beer, there are also alcohol-free gin options, a couple of decent prosecco substitutes and a whole plethora of adult soft drinks out there!
Where Can We Find out More About You?
You can find out more about me at my blog www.littleblogofpositivity.com
My blog covers topics relating to positivity, motivation, personal development, mental wellbeing, meditation and more!
Anything Else You’d like to Share?
Taking a break from alcohol can seem like a massively scary thing. We live in a culture which sees alcohol as the thing that makes us sociable, relieves stress and gives us something to look forward to at the end of a hard week.
Making the decision to go against the grain, even if only for a little while, is hard. That’s why it took me 5 years to make that decision!
I guarantee though that if you give it a try, even if only for a few weeks, you will see benefits.
What have you got to lose?
I’d like to say a big thanks to Alison for sharing her life improvement story with us today.
- Taking a break from alcohol can have a massive improvement in your mental health – something a lot of people might not think about or realise.
- Struggling to break the habit? try telling people you’ve stopped drinking. Also, don’t be afraid to seek out help from other like-minded people/support groups.
- Everything worthwhile is hard to do, especially in the beginning. Don’t give up! Set small goals, like a week with no alcohol, and build it from there.
Have you made an improvement to your life that you would like to share? Check outand get involved. Your story could end up being featured in this series.
You can find the rest of the reader interviews in the series here…