A year ago during the lead up to the festive holidays, the thought of spending my Christmas completely alcohol-free would have filled me with absolute dread.
A Christmas with no Gluhwein?! I’m a quarter German, are you mad?! No Prosecco? No Bucks Fizz? No Baileys or Snowballs? Well, what’s the point then? I felt like letting everybody know I was cancelling Christmas! You only know what you know, right?
The thing I didn’t realise is you can change your path or journey at any time in this wacky ride called life.
Fast forward a year
I’m 11 months alcohol-free and I’m more excited about Christmas than I’ve EVER been in my adult life. The pure joy I’m feeling right now, knowing there’ll be no beer fear the morning after a Christmas party, no embarrassing pictures of me flying around Whatsapp groups, no drunken phone calls with friends and relatives, no anxiety, no alcohol fuelled rows and the winner of them all… NO HANGOVERS! The best Christmas present I could have ever wished for.
They say knowledge is power and they’d be right. If I’d known how amazing I was going to feel going alcohol-free, I would have done this years ago – sorry if this sounds boastful but I feel like a frickin’ superhero! I’m more confident, I’m doing so much more with my family (bike rides, family walks, games, arts and crafts, movie nights) and my energy levels are through the roof.
The benefits have been endless
Aside from the incredible benefits, I can hand-on-heart say I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything when friends and family drink around me. Don’t get me wrong, to start with it was tough going. Like anything in life, you have to work hard to make changes and breaking the habits of a lifetime doesn’t come easy and happen over night.
The first two weeks were the hardest for me. My crazy mind chatter would do anything to talk me out of completing my 365-day alcohol-free challenge and I had to push myself to explore every avenue. I had to keep super busy and that’s when I decided to take up running. If I had an activity to apply myself to, that would surely help – and it did.
Obviously this wasn’t the key to my success, I had to dig a bit deeper. Day 28 was a tough moment. My friends and family who had taken part in dry January, had let loose at the pub to celebrate their achievement – this included my partner, Sam. This is when I had to go to OYNB’s toolbox to help keep my willpower strong. I wrote my list of reasons not to drink, called a friend who was a year ahead of me on her OYNB journey and booked in a 6.30am workout. These three things worked well for me and were going to be my go-to tricks to keep me focused on my journey.
I was on a roll – my mindset was strong and nothing was going to get in the way of winning gold at my own personal Olympics…
What was that Boris Johnson? There’s a deadly virus, don’t go to work, we must stay at home, schools are closed, the entire country is in lockdown, 2020 is cancelled until further notice?
Well, WTF do I do now?
If there’s EVER an excuse to get out of a challenge, it was now! I mean, talk about the top trump of all excuses – it couldn’t get better than this… A.WORLD. WIDE. PANDEMIC!
As I’m sure you can imagine, I would spend the next few days/couple of weeks considering my options, as my mind chatter would do its best to talk me out of sticking to ANY of my new year’s resolutions. Luckily, I wasn’t far off my 90-day challenge, so I decided to hit that milestone and then re-evaluate the situation.
Ninety days in – I’m feeling incredible
I’m through the worst part of the challenge and as research shows, I’ve broken the habit, why on earth would I give up now? I was no longer thinking about alcohol – that was behind me – so it was time to switch my focus and enjoy my life differently, get to know the new me!
I had recently been experimenting with plant based recipes as last year I had decided to go vegan. I enjoyed finding new ways of eating so I decided to go on a mission and source the best alcohol-free beverages on the market and find new ways of drinking. It was time to spread the word about my wonderful hangover free life, share my tips and tricks to help you keep up your spirits whilst not hitting the spirits! Trust me, you CAN still be fun! You CAN still enjoy the festive season and be the cocktail making party-goer! It’s just a little different, 0% and zero guilt!
So here is my Christmas gift to you…
My top 5 tips to keep you focused on feeling great this Christmas:
- Your weakness will be your mind – so keep it active! Christmas is a time for family games, so get the cards, puzzles and board games out and have fun with the fam. Get creative, exercise, bake…
- Mindfulness – when something triggers the emotion or routine of wanting a drink, take 5 deep breaths, have a moment to yourself – My time needed for this is a 10 minute time out.
- Write a list! Trust me, this is a game changer. Focus on all the reasons you don’t want to drink, how bad it makes you feel, how disappointed you’ll be with yourself, the hangover you’ll have, weight gain, bad nights sleep, anxiety…
- Be assertive. Don’t allow friends or family to persuade you to have just one drink, if you’re anything like me it won’t stop at that. Stay strong, say no with meaning and don’t show any weaknesses – you don’t want to start talking yourself into quitting your challenge.
- PLACEBO, PLACEBO, PLACEBO – find a few alcohol-free drinks you love – this will help with all of the above this Christmas. Start trying out some alcohol-free beverages now – there are some cracking ones out there – Dry Drinker is a brilliant alcohol-free online shop with tons of options to choose from.
Are you ready to be shaken and stirred? My top 10 alcohol-free finds:
- For you red wine lovers – Win Tempranillo is a HUGE WIN for me. It’s not too sweet but lovely and dry with a berry/oaky flavour.
- SinZero. My favourite Prosecco alternative.
- Implosion Beer – Crisp and fresh.
- STRYKK – Gin and Rum – Great for cocktail making.
- Sea Arch – Gin – No artificial sweeteners, vegan, allergen free and zero calories.
- UNLTD beer – Great flavour, very realistic.
- Highball – BRILLIANT alcohol-free cocktails, my favourite is their Mojito!
- Eisberg white wine – Smells super realistic, a little sweet but great with soda and Ice
- Odd-Bird – Another great alcohol free Prosecco.
- Ghost Ship IPA and Brew Dog Nanny State IPA – Absolute winners if you’re an IPA fan!
Believe me when I tell you that going alcohol-free was the best present I could gift myself, and it is the gift that keeps on giving! If you are curious to find out what your life could be like when you reprioritise alcohol, why not give it a go for a few days and see how you get on? Join the OYNB 5-day free challenge and see where it could take you!
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.