Taking a booze sabbatical

Rosie, our Marketing Manager, has gone teetotal for three months. Here's how she's finding it...

This week is Alcohol Awareness Week. The week is a chance for people to think about their approach to drinking as well as raising awareness and campaign for changes in attitudes to a favourite pastime for many. For me, this is a significant week as it marks 60 days since I last had something alcoholic.

I haven’t given up for good, I prefer to think of it as a booze sabbatical, and the end of this dry spell is insight (Christmas Eve!) but it has been a refreshing, enlightening and occasionally challenging couple of months. I normally do a dry month every year, around Autumn, to give my liver a bit of respite after a rosé fuelled summer but this year, I wanted to challenge myself more. A month is doable but how will I feel staring down the barrel of a quarter of a year without this delectably relaxing social lubricant?!

I hold my hands up – I love booze and I’m aware I drink a lot so the prospect of a bit of time off wasn’t something I met with fear or dread. I was looking forward to recalibrating, good sleep, feeling healthy and hopefully losing a bit of weight. An imminent trip to Australia has been a big incentive!

Two months in, I have to be honest, I feel amazing! There have been a couple of nights, inevitably, where I’ve thought how nice it would be to have a drink but the positives of this experience utterly outweigh the negatives and are enough to conquer the temptation. I’ve survived birthday parties, engagement parties, dinner parties, nights out with friends and one particularly raucous Oktoberfest armed with nothing stronger than a few non-alcoholic beers!

So, what have I learnt and how have I done it? Here are a few things I’ve found and some tips and tricks to help;

  1. Autumn vs Dry January. I find October/November a preferable time to cut out the booze over January. After the fun of the summer, it’s that renewed, back to school feeling of fresh starts and leads nicely into a guilt-free season of festive fun. Whilst you can argue January is also a time for new beginnings, I find it too much of a grim month to want to add not drinking to it.
  2. The first two drinks are always the hardest! When you arrive somewhere and there’s a buzz is in the air, the excitement of friends coming together and enjoying some post-work down time, it’s always the first two drinks that they are enjoying that I miss the most. Once I’ve pushed past that, the rest is easy.
  3. Telling friends you’re doing it before you start makes it easier. I found this helped in two ways. It made it harder for me to back out because I told everyone! It also helped prepare my social circle for my teetotal spell. It meant that rather than hitting the pub for catch-up drinks after work, we’d organise something else like the cinema or dinner. 
  4. BYOB. I have my arsenal of go-to soft drinks, these are generally tomato juice (Big Tom is my fave), fizzy water, some kind of fizzy drink like Coke or Appletizer, non-alcoholic beer (I recommend San Miguel’s version) and Seedlip, a game changing non-alcoholic spirit. I will bring at least one of these (I’ve been known to turn up with almost all!) with me to whatever I’m going to because then I know I can drink what I want and not have to rely on something ancient my friends might find in their cupboards.
  5. Non-alcoholic drinks. I find these really helpful. I LOVE Seedlip’s Spice, measure it like any spirit, add some tonic and a twist of orange or grapefruit and hey presto, a grown-up, non-sugary sweet, non-boozy drink. As a beer drinker, non-alcoholic beers are also a good substitute and the good news is that there are now many more to choose from than there were a couple of years ago.
  6. You feel So. Damn. Good! I knew this would happen from past experience of time-off booze but it’s so easy to forget how alcohol can blur and numb the edges of daily life. Whilst it can be great fun and hugely uniting, it’s easy to ignore the bad side. Within the first week, my face was noticeably less puffy, my skin was better and my eyes clearer. My quality of sleep is incredible and the tiredness I feel is tiredness because I’ve had a busy, productive day not because I’ve gone to bed late and slept badly due to the stimulating effect of booze. I’ve also lost about two inches around my waist.
  7. The apex. The evening will reach a point, an apex, and then your night starts to go in a different direction to your friends. They’ll start telling you stories they told you earlier in the evening, they start to make a little bit less sense and there’s a change in the atmosphere I can’t really describe. A gluey yet high-spirited incoherence perhaps. At this point, it’s time to beat a hasty retreat and head to bed. Enjoy the feeling of smugness the next morning!
  8. You can do it! Lots of friends have told me that they ‘could never give up booze for this long’. But I promise you, it’s doable. It gets easier as time goes on and with a much better range of non-alcoholic drinks, it’s also easier to find something nice to drink that doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out or you're drinking something marketed at 10 year olds. 

If you’re considering any period of time off booze, good luck! I can’t recommend it enough.