Earlier this year, I set the intention of seeing major breakthrough in my life.
For some, this might look like taking massive action and hustling harder, but that wasn’t going to work for me this time. I’d tried that before, and while I did get results, I had to make a lot of sacrifices that resulted in exhaustion, burnout, and being stretched way too thin.
This time, I knew that I had to do something different. I needed to let go of things that I was tightly clinging to, for my own comfort. I am someone who used to white-knuckle my way through life.
I’m an achiever, by nature. I am someone who wants to make things happen, and who will go the extra mile with you in order to see that thing come to fruition.
But when I looked at my life, I was overworked, overcommitted, and yet still not where I wanted to be. That is why this year, I’ve committed this year to fast from something every single month.
See my other “fasts” articles from the series here:
To be clear, this fast was never about depriving myself or my body of things that I needed; nor was it a punishment to abstain from things that would enrich my life. This was more of an experiment to remove some of the layers so that I could see what was underneath and truly tend to what was going on in my life, my business, and my heart.
Not one of my monthly fasts was to intentionally serve health goals, but fasting from alcohol for a single month. What was something that I knew that I needed for a lot of different reasons?
Coming through the holidays and a crazy beginning of the month, I leaned on alcohol as a way to connect with people as the world started opening up more, and it became routine to grab a drink with friends.
This fast wasn’t about being sober curious or totally sober for the rest of my life, however, there are incredible resources for both of those lifestyles, including Sober Stories.
This was a break that I needed to take not only for my body’s health, but for my mental health as well.
In our culture today, it is very easy to get in a comfortable loop with alcohol. We know when over-consumed, it can have a ripple effect on our lives, and I was too often finding that to be true in my life.
Drinking was the easy default way to check out, rather than truly connect. By abstaining from alcohol for a month, I was able to hit the reset button on my health and refocus on my true intention of connecting with others.
Here are a few things I learned from my break from alcohol for a month.
1. It was much harder to start than it was to maintain.
It only took a few interactions with the friends that I see on a regular basis to let them know, “Hey, I’m not drinking right now.”
I had that be a part of the dialogue, and then we just moved on. I’ll admit I was hesitant to go to a couple social gatherings because I wasn’t drinking. Yet not drinking alcohol allowed me to be present in a way that I hadn’t been able to before.
Now, I’m not someone that always drinks a lot at an event, however, I noticed that by removing it completely, I was able to enjoy the conversation. I wasn’t stopping mid-conversation to go refresh my beverage. I was talking about things other than what we were drinking. Alcohol wasn’t the center focus.
2. I had more energy
It didn’t take long for me to realize that by not drinking, I was a lot less tired. Even a glass of wine here or there was dragging me down and if I was committed to a breakthrough this year, I needed every moment to count.
Most of the time, I was grasping for something just for me, for a way to relax. And by doing this, I had gotten into the habit of reaching for something that wasn’t actually going to help. Again, your choice to abstain from alcohol or to drink it is your decision. But for me, this was about getting to the root cause of what was really behind that reach for a beverage.
3. Non-alcoholic swaps helped
I found that by swapping my alcoholic drink for a fun, non-alcoholic drink, it still felt like a treat. Sure, maybe I didn’t want another glass of plain ice water, but I could try out a fun sparkling water that I didn’t drink during the day. I tried some new non-alcoholic options and still got to have an evening beverage served to be equally as effective, without all the fuss of having trouble sleeping and harming my hormones and my body.
Since I concluded that month, I’ve really thought about where alcohol has a place in my life.
This is something I’m continually adjusting as needed. I know that I want to be here as long as possible for my girls. I want to be present with my friends and family. I want to have a healthy life. This was one area that was so easy to identify as holding me back when it’s often framed as something that’s going to set us free.
If you’ve considered taking a break from alcohol, I want to encourage you to try it.
Know going into it that you may have some people asking why you made this decision. Know that it’s okay to respond with, “I’m taking a break for now”, “I’m hitting the reset button”, “I’m trying other options,” and “I’m letting my body reset”. These responses are perfectly fine and often shut down any other probing questions from true friends. Most people don’t care.
Something I also noticed was that some people responded to me from a place of their own self-judgment. If I shared that I wasn’t drinking, then they would have some reaction as if I had made some comment about the fact that they were choosing to drink.
Now, as an Enneagram 9, this was something I had to get over because I never want to make anybody feel like I have been critical of them. But I had to recognize that this was not an issue that I was responsible for. I was making my own choice and they could make their judgment from that decision. However, their response was not my responsibility. It wasn’t an easy thing, but I did it.
After all, when I put it on paper, I’m not going to let peer pressure run my life, let alone get in the way of my major breakthrough. So why was I allowing it in this area?
I’d encourage you, if you’re considering taking an alcohol break, have a plan for the conversations that come up. They’re not hard but they do come up, and when they do, you’ll be glad you prepared for them!