OK, I’ll start by saying I haven’t TOTALLY quit alcohol. I love wine, I really do and I still drink it occasionally like if we go out for dinner, if I go out with the girls or if we’re celebrating something because, well Champagne is lovely. I don’t drink much when I do drink now though and I go weeks in between drinks.
I used to drink wine too often. Since having kids and then moving to Australia I got in a habit of pouring a glass of wine or two with dinner. It helped me relax and feel like I was treating myself for the challenges I was facing. Plus wine in Australia is amazing and it is great value here too which makes drinking it so easy.
Wine drinking is normalised online – your toddler is having a tantrum? Have a glass of wine. Bad day at work? Have a drink. Struggling to find a job or get your kids settled at school? Is it wine o’clock yet?! Everywhere you turn, people are talking about drinking and it is easy to slip into that being your normal. That’s how it was for me.
Moving to a new country is quite stressful, so is buying houses, finding jobs and getting settled in. The emotional impact of moving is something that people don’t tend to talk about and using wine as a coping mechanism is really common. Also, living away from extended family means you tend to get less breaks and those breaks are so important to help you feel revitalised. We all love our kids so much, but sometimes we just need to step away from the treadmill of family life and be ourselves again even if it’s just for an afternoon or an evening. Wine offers a bit of escapism.
Around Christmas 2017/18, I started to cut back on alcohol. I didn’t really make a big decision to stop, I just changed up my habits and made different choices some of the time. If you’d asked me a few weeks before, I’d have said cutting back on drink was going to be hard. I loved to drink and would look forward to my glass of wine in the evening. I didn’t make it into a big deal – I just stopped buying booze. I did miss it for the first couple of evenings but I quickly realised that I’d only been reaching for a glass of wine because I was thirsty and because it was a habit.
Once I replaced my evening drink with sparkling water, coffee or something else, I didn’t miss it. Since then, I’ve gone through little phases of drinking again (like if we’ve been on holiday for a week or two or if I was going through a particularly stressful period of life) but over the last six months I’ve really changed my habits so much more and now don’t automatically turn to booze to calm down when I’m stressed. Actually, when I’m stressed out now I make a point of NOT drinking.
I can count on the one hand the number of times I’ve drunk alcohol this year. Even on Christmas Day, I had non-alcoholic sparkling wine with my dinner and really enjoyed it because I got to enjoy the day without a headache.
A huge shift for me was stopping drinking while cooking a bbq. I ALWAYS enjoyed a glass of wine while cooking and eating the bbq – it was just something that always happened together. I couldn’t even consider cooking a bbq if I didn’t have a bottle of wine in the fridge – the two things automatically went together. Once I realised I was associating bbqs with booze, I broke the connection by stopping drinking during bbqs. Being aware of it made it easy to stop.
While I think moving to Australia encouraged me to drink more booze during that stressful period of my life, I also think that living in Australia has influenced me to cut back on the drink now. There is something about the lifestyle here that inspires me to want to make better choices. I eat a much healthier diet since moving here – I think the sunshine and outdoor lifestyle has a huge influence on that. I’ve discovered so many new health products since moving here too – I’d never really heard of coconut oil, chia seeds or açaí bowls before I moved here.
I’ve heard a few people say they find that all social events in Australia involve booze, but I’ve actually found a lot of people like me who’ve cut back on their drink to get more out of their lives. There are some incredible alcohol-free and low alcohol options so you can still enjoy delicious drinks with your dinner or at a social event. We just need to get more of these to be served in restaurants so we don’t have to choose sugary fizzy drinks instead of wine.
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Tried a new #alcoholfree beer with the #bbq today. I LOVE wine and beer but they just makes me feel rubbish so I’m enjoying finding some new options. This was on special at #Coles. I give it a thumbs up! 🍻 #carltonzero #boozefree #noalcohol #weberbbq #dinnertime #nobooze #ditchthedrink
I do still love to drink from a wine glass because I love my pastel colour crystal wine glasses which you’ll often see popping up on my Insta feed – mostly now though these are filled with sparkling water or non-alcoholic wine. Just because I don’t have booze in it, doesn’t mean I can treat myself to drinking from a pretty glass!
Anyway, here are five ways that my life has improved since dropping my daily glass of wine:
I feel healthier
This is at the core of everything – I just feel so much healthier now that I don’t drink on a regular basis. I’d feel brilliant while I was drinking, but before I’d even finished my glass I would start to feel terrible – lazy, lethargic, exhausted, headachy. I love not having those feelings now.
I have more energy and focus to do things
When I wake up in the mornings now, I feel great because I know I haven’t overindulged on wine the night before. Just knowing I didn’t drink makes me feel better – before when I woke up I’d often have a headache or feel dehydrated and exhausted before I’d even got out of bed. Then in response to those feelings, I would usually give in to eating more unhealthy things because they would give me a quick pick-me-up. But the things I was eating would also pull down my energy levels and I was trapped in an unhealthy cycle. I get so much more done now and my evenings aren’t wasted anymore!
I’ve lost a little weight
I’ve lost some weight – this is in part down to giving up the booze and in part because I have more energy to move more. I would still like to drop a bit more for my own health goals but I’m making a good start. I’m also now at a stable weight (or losing) rather than gaining which is what I’d been doing gradually for the past couple of years.
My mind feels clearer
I can focus again now that I’m not drinking. When I used to have a glass of wine on a quick lunch date with my hubby, I would be useless for the rest of the day. It just made my mind fuzzy and I couldn’t do anything productive afterwards. If I drank a glass or two at night there was pretty much no chance of me being able to get any work or any chores done because I just couldn’t be bothered. Now, if I need to get something done after dinner, I can hop on the computer and smash out some words quickly then get back to enjoying my evening again.
I’m taking less painkillers
I used to take painkillers all the time for headaches. Now I don’t need to take them very often at all. I feel so much better for it.
We’re saving money
When we had a wine habit (I say ‘we’ as my husband used to drink with me and now he doesn’t drink either), it involved spending money on wine every month. While I do now buy some alcohol-free treat drinks, I mostly drink sparkling water or coffee in the evenings which means we’re saving hundreds of dollars a year. When my hubby and I go on weekday lunch dates, it costs a lot less with me not drinking and also because I haven’t drunk it means I can get back to my desk to be productive again meaning I get more focused work done which then results in more income too.
Quitting alcohol to live a fuller life
For me, stopping buying wine was what made it easy to quit alcohol. If we really fancy a glass of wine and we’re cooking a special dinner then we’ll go out and buy a bottle – we now invest in an expensive bottle as a treat as it doesn’t happen often and it means we get to enjoy it when we do it. But I love that I now control how often I decide to drink rather than it being a habit controlled by the emotions of the day. I also feel very lucky that now there are so many awesome alternatives to alcohol in Australia that taste just as good (if not better!) than booze.
Do you drink often? Has this list inspired you to try to cut back a bit to see how it makes you feel?