After a particularly heavy night at a wedding in Devon, I made the decision to take part in Sober October. I had drunk too much the previous night and was feeling incredibly sorry for myself, and the hangover was in full effect. I didn’t like the way I felt after drinking, the anxiety, embarrassment and shame I would feel after overindulging.
My Experience of Sober October
What are my drinking habits like pre-Sober October?
Whilst I don’t drink all that regularly, I definitely drink more than I should (or am comfortable admitting, even to myself and especially to my GP!). I was chatting with Teri about how Tom and I hardly ever drink at home or if we’re just out for dinner on our own, however when at weddings, dinners with friends, or at the rugby, then we’ll both drink too much.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that I often don’t handle my alcohol all that well, and have memory blanks (and bruises) from more nights out than I am willing to admit. It was actually admitting that I couldn’t remember parts of the Devon wedding that made me realise I needed to address my drinking habits, and take a break from the booze.
What have I learned from the experience?
I’ve realised that all too often I order a wine or G&T by default. Or have used a drink as a crutch to relax, or reduce my social anxiety. Only for the anxiety the following day to be even more crippling. There’s certainly a happy medium for me, in terms of quelling some of my anxiety without creating yet more!
I really enjoyed having over a month of no-hangovers, no alcohol related migraines or ‘beer fear’. And I feel like it’s been a great re-set to remind me to slow down and enjoy one or two drinks, rather than knocking them back!
Have you noticed a difference in your skin?
Instead of craving alcohol, I’ve noticed that my sweet tooth and chocolate cravings are worse (I definitely had more desserts at the end of the evening, while everyone else would have another glass of wine, I would have a pudding and tea!) and possibly as a result of this, my skin hasn’t been great. In fact, breakouts on my chin have been worse than ever. However, I think that given the change in temperatures, central heating and a fair amount of travel, it was always going to get worse before it got better. I recently invested in a new skincare routine (throwing money at the problem!) and am hoping that will bring back some of the glow!
Did I save money?
Probably, although I don’t actually count how much money I spend on alcohol, it isn’t cheap and I’m sure it adds up each month. I did note that when I went out for dinner with friends, my portion of the bill was substantially lower than those that had wine.
Have I lost weight?
NO! But probably due to the aforementioned sweet tooth, increased chocolate and dessert intake. I know this is a very controversial topic, but I have a post planned about weight etc because it’s been something I’ve thought about a lot recently.
How has the social pressure been?
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that October was a typical month in terms of my social life… I was in Chicago surrounded by runners who totally get it for the first weekend, Qatar (a dry state) for the second weekend, at home for the third and away with Tom’s family for the fourth. We did have an evening with friends last week, who although Tom and our friend George tried to convince me to have a tipple, the others were supportive in sticking to all 31 days!
Weddings and other social gatherings I think would be trickier, and especially if it were to last longer than the just the month, I think it may have been different. Furthermore, I think with a time limit and a label (Sober October), it was more socially acceptable and if I’d given up alcohol for running/training, it may have had more negative opinions.
Did I feel like I was missing out?
But I think I probably would if we’d had weddings/parties during the past month.
How has it affected my sleep patterns?
My sleep patterns have been pretty erratic for a while, and I know that it is intrinsically linked to my anxiety. I do think that I’ve had less anxiety with reduced alcohol intake, especially at the weekends (no beer fear!), and I have noticed that I sleep better on the nights that we’ve been out, certainly there have been fewer mornings when I’ve woken up at 3am with my heart racing. However, I think I drank quite infrequently during the week so overall I haven’t had a huge change in sleep.
Best non-alcoholic tipples?
I loved Seedlip for a non-alcoholic G&T, and I also drank a lot of Diet Coke and sparkling water!
Is it sustainable?
It certainly could be, however it’s not something I’m planning on keeping up. Whilst it has shown me that I do not need to drink on occasions when I thought I did, it also reassured me that I found it pretty easy to give up entirely and hope that this means I can readdress my relationship with alcohol going forward.
Let me know if you have any other questions…
Have you ever tried to give up alcohol? Do you give up the booze when marathon training?