I started with a 90-day challenge, then upgraded to 365 days to see how much more I can achieve.
I’ve always liked a drink – wine was my poison – and I was one of those unfortunate drinkers who didn’t have an off switch (or if I did it didn’t work). I used to enjoy a bottle of wine each night over the weekend, but not during the week until I stated to work from home permanently about 4 years ago. Then Thursday became Friday and weekday drinking crept in. I didn’t need to worry about driving the morning after etc etc.
I was trying to lose weight but the wine was stopping that happening, and I could cut back and take breaks from the wine but when the first lockdown started, my mindset changed and I started eating and drinking like I was on a long holiday. I decided around July last year that I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol and the only way I could do that was to cut it out completely and see how I got on.
I’m not sure what expectations I had at the start about how this would work. I didn’t know what I’d feel like not drinking, would I have withdrawal symptoms? I was a little sceptical that I’d be able to do this just with a Facebook group and some daily emails and videos so I signed up for the 5-day free taster, but I soon thought ‘I can do this’. I knew I had to prepare myself mentally so I was careful when choosing my Day 1 so I could give 100% to this.
My experience of going alcohol-free
We always had alcohol-free drinks in the house for the designated drivers when we had guests, but I never drank any of those before. I did stock up for this challenge though and it’s surprising just how good the alternatives are. There’s definitely more choice so you don’t have to feel you are going without.
I set out on this challenge to change my relationship with alcohol and learn how to moderate, but at the moment, I can’t see me ever drinking again, which I did not expect. I started with a 90-day challenge, then upgraded to 365 days to see how much more I can achieve.
My alcohol-free benefits
I suffer with anxiety and almost immediately this has stopped, I thought I was shy, not confident, would only speak if someone spoke to me but I’m not. Behind the wine was a hidden personality! My sense of humour is back, I’m focused at work and even got a new job recently. Sleep is wonderful and it’s much easier to get up in the morning. The things I noticed first though was the red cheeks and nose disappeared quickly, the eye bags reduced, my eyes are brighter. Hopefully I can reverse the aging process a bit now!
The OYNB challenge
The support from OYNB comes in different ways. The daily emails and videos are the first thing I read or listen to each day. I’ve started reading more self-help books (for all aspects of life) as a result.
The Facebook community is a supportive, safe space where I can just read and learn from other people’s experiences or contribute and ask for help when I need it. It was the first place I went to when I wanted reassurance about not drinking at my son’s wedding and I got through it! There’s always someone else in a similar situation or with a similar challenge.
I think the biggest help was in the first weeks – writing, journaling. Writing down all the reasons WHY? I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol and that was real food for thought.
What is next?
6 months down the road – halfway through my challenge, I don’t miss alcohol. I often think about what might happen at the big social occasions, but I’m happy with my alternatives at the moment. I’ve broken some long-standing habits like the glass of wine after work, or while I was working when it was going to be a late night. Without it, I don’t get stressed with work. I might need a One Year No Bread challenge soon though!
If anyone is thinking about doing more than dry January or giving up wine for Lent, or just want to address their relationship with alcohol, I’d recommend these challenges. Going alone is hard with any habit change, but groups like this keep you accountable.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.