I have a lot of love and respect for myself because I make the time, effort and have the inclination to show up for myself every day
I originally joined OYNB in April 2020 during the first lockdown when the 28-day challenge was being offered for free to those wanting support with cutting back on drinking during the pandemic. Before that and like a lot of members I started to see the Facebook page on my newsfeed quite regularly. This was significant and fortunate because for a while I’d been unhappy with my alcohol consumption but equally didn’t want to or know how to address it.
I wasn’t an alcoholic and my life and lifestyle was not (overly) impacted by my drinking but I was more than aware that I was drinking too much and too frequently. Most (easily 90%) of my drinking was at home. Several glasses of wine, most evenings to unwind after work then more and earlier in the evening on weekends. Of course this accelerated in frequency and volume during lockdown and it bothered me enough to want to do something about it – even though I knew that wasn’t going to be easy.
Committing to 365 days
After around 5 or 6 weeks alcohol-free in early Spring of 2020, it wasn’t long before my previous, regular drinking habits were back and as we got to the Autumn of 2020. At that point I made the decision that I was going to sign up for the 365 day challenge in the new year. I was inspired by the testimonials on the OYNB website but was also a member of the OYNB Facebook group and was even more inspired and surprised by just how much more enjoyment people seemed to get out of life when living it alcohol-free.
I wanted to totally change my relationship with alcohol and knew if I wanted even half a chance of being successful, I would have to go through a prolonged period of abstinence. 28 days (as previously experienced) and the 90 day challenge did not feel like enough. I signed up around mid December for a start date of 1st January 2021.
Starting my challenge
I was nervous and admittedly a little bit glum at the prospect of not drinking for all that time but was committed to my own personal cause. I was hopeful that I would succeed but I was expecting to find it difficult. To have to white knuckle wonder ride through. And the first few weeks were a bit like that, but I lived, breathed and slept not drinking alcohol for at least the first 3 weeks.
Another major challenge was the UK going back into a lockdown on the 4th January, 4 days into the challenge which meant I was back to juggling working, home schooling and being more or less permanently at home, not realising at that point that this would continue for a further 2 months. But that aside, just as I had been so aware of how much I was thinking about drinking in the beginning, when it started to become easier along the way, I was noticing that I was thinking it less and less. Which was really encouraging.
At the beginning I found it hard to imagine that not drinking would just become part of your normal daily life and routine. With every passing week, removing alcohol from my life became a new habit in itself. The work that you do on the programme really does break the psychological cycle, I realised that eventually my brain was no longer expecting to receive alcohol and that was a game changer!
I would say my biggest learnings have been:
- Wait to put yourself into situations of temptation until you feel confident you are ready.
- When you feel up to it, ease yourself into social situations gradually on your own terms. Every one you get through boosts your confidence and belief in yourself.
- It may seem inconceivable that you can socialise and even have a good time without drinking but you can. And the cherry on that cake is not having to plan the day after around a hangover!
- For those of you with children, they really do watch and learn from everything you do – good or bad! We were in a supermarket once, in the baking aisle and my then 6 year old daughter spotted some candles in the shape of mini champagne bottles and wanted them so badly for her Barbie dolls. I was mortified as I realised it was because she was witnessing my relationship with alcohol. Fast forward to this year and she recently said at the dinner table one evening that she ‘doesn’t think she will drink alcohol when she is older’. She also refers to this challenge as ‘Mummy’s 10 year no beer challenge’. This is by far the most powerful learning gained from this challenge and one I will never forget!
How have I changed:
- I am far more patient with my family
- I am calmer in general
- I have developed a regular morning yoga habit this year which I absolutely love and never even occurred to me to try pre OYNB challenge.
- My mind is always sharp and my body strong and toned.
- I have received a promotion at work this year and know I can rise to the challenge, motivated and clear headed every day.
- I have a lot of love and respect for myself because I make the time, effort and have the inclination to show up for myself every day. Not something you ever even think to do let alone actually do when you’re frequently either hungover or just subpar.
- Even if the visual changes in yourself aren’t noticeable to you, they seem to be for others. The compliments and comments on your appearance never get old!
The OYNB Support
I’m a ‘follow the instructions’ person by nature so from the outset I had decided to do just that in terms of the support offered. I was (and still am) a frequent visitor to the Facebook Group. It’s impossible not to be inspired and motivated by the wonderful members in that group and their triumphs and tribulations.
But the daily email support was probably the most valuable for me. It offers up such a wide range of valuable advice, guidance and knowledge in habit change and positive psychology. I know we’re all busy and life sometimes gets in the way but even during busy periods in my life, if I fell behind with the emails I would consciously set aside the time to catch up on them!
I am still on the challenge until 31st December but have surprised myself as I’m not in a rush to pick up an alcoholic drink anytime soon!