Positive Impact in a Difficult Time | OYNB 087

One Year No Beer Podcast Episode 087 – Positive Impact in a Difficult Time 

This is a difficult time for many people. The spread of coronavirus is having a devastating impact. Whole countries are instituting lockdowns. Even people who aren’t compelled to stay home may do so out of fear of catching the virus. Some people have lost their income, others are adapting to working from home for the first time. Children are out of school and stuck at home with parents who are also stuck at home. 

What does this mean for the One Year No Beer community and the wider community? Anxieties are high. Emotions are volatile. People are fearful – and perhaps bored at the same time. This is going to result in many people turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism. But we know that alcohol really doesn’t help you cope. 

“Alcohol is a depressant. We don't really realize the impact, and I'm yet to have a scientific study around this, but one day we definitely will.”

Alcohol increases anxiety. It’s a depressant, so it may also increase feelings of sadness and depression. It puts you at risk, both because you have to go out to get alcohol and because it negatively impacts your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses than you would be without it. If you’re a parent who is spending more time at home with your children than usual, drinking – and the accompanying hangovers – won’t make it any easier for you to function as a parent. 

There are healthier things that you can do to relieve your feelings of anxiety and fear. A breathing exercise can help you calm your nervous system and regain some clarity and focus. You can use this time in positive ways – to bond with your family, for example, or to work on goals that will allow you to come out on the other side of this as a better and healthier version of yourself. 

This is also a good time to support others who are considering changing their relationship with alcohol. You can set an example and encourage others not to use alcohol as a crutch during these challenging times. Here at ONYB, we’re working to help and reach more people by giving away our 28-day challenge for free to anyone who’s struggling. And you can help as well – by spreading the message, by sharing the podcast and other content, and by showing up in the community to support the new people coming in. Together, we can have an incredible positive impact on the world during a very difficult time. 


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Episode Transcript

Just before I get stuck into this interview with myself, I just want to say we got a really special announcement to make. Something huge is going on inside One Year No Beer and we need your help. Please listen to this podcast and if you don't have time to listen to it all, skip just to the end to hear the end announcement, but don't spoil it for yourselves. Listen to the podcast first and then I've got some really, really important favor to ask you that together we can have a big impact in the world right now. Stay awesome and tune in to the end. 

Welcome to yet another truly fantastic episode of the One Year No Beer Podcast. Today, my special guest is me. Yes, I thought I would come on and talk to myself for half an hour? 40 minutes? It depends on how bored of myself I get, but yes I thought I would give everybody a little bit of an update into what's been going on, recognize what's been going on the world, wow, and perhaps have a discussion about some of the things we could be doing to make sure that we stay alcohol free, or we stay with our relationship with alcohol in a good place over this difficult, anxious, fearful, crazy time.

Let's start off in the beginning. Where I stand today, we're in lockdown here in the UK. We have been in our house for a week. Actually because our kids were coughing a little bit before, we kept them back from school. We were housebound the week before we went to lockdown. We've been two weeks in lockdown. I'm seeing lockdowns happening all over the world, there's a lot going on. We're looking at stock markets really crashing and coming off. Lots of uncertainty in companies and small businesses. What's going on in the world when we look around?

I think the media certainly is, depending on what media you look at, it's like Doom's Day, the end of the world. Then hopefully we see some stuff that's positive, but there are all of these things around us, all of these triggers. There's literally so much going on. You almost feel it in the air, this level of anxiety and fear. 

Interestingly enough, or not interestingly enough, those two words are really, really big triggers for reaching for a crutch. If you've been a part of One Year No Beer for a while, then I guess we've been working with you or you've been working on yourself using our platform. Whether that is listening to the podcast, or on the page reading some of our social media posts, reading the blogs, interacting with any of our social channels, or maybe you're inside a challenge and you're in the community.

What you've been doing is learning about this thing called your relationship with alcohol. You've been in a process of self discovery, of understanding that when we feel anxiety, that alcohol actually makes it worse. Yes, alcohol actually makes it much worse. Alcohol is a depressant. We don't really realize the impact, and I'm yet to have a scientific study around this, but one day we definitely will. 

That is most people have absolutely no idea the impact alcohol is having on them. It's even the light drinkers. We've got some people who said, “I don't drink much more than three or four glasses of wine a week.” That's like a bottle of wine a week. 

Back from where I come from, that would be mega lightweight. They had huge transformations. A lady I was speaking to at Spartan, she said, “About 19 days into the challenge, a decade of anxiety evaporated.” She was on anxiety medications. She'd been to see multiple doctors. She'd been to see a psychiatrist. She researched, studied, and tried to find this thing with anxiety and poof, evaporated “in 19 days,” is the word that she said. She was just a steady drinker of one bottle of wine a week.

That's really the impact of alcohol on anxiety. This is an anxious time. What is going to happen? What is going on in the world? How are we going to come out? And why would you add more anxiety into that situation?

I get it. I totally understand. I'm not the person who's sitting here going, “Alcohol is the devil.” I'm not sitting here saying, “You should never touch alcohol,” because as you all know, as I've been very, very clear, I still drink now and again. I did two years completely alcohol free. I totally changed my relationship with alcohol. Now, I drink as much as I want whenever I want. I just usually choose not to drink.

Looking at this, now that I have alcohol in its place and this is a natural time for increased anxiety, why would I want to add to that? Why would I want to do that to myself? Why would I want to do that to those around me?

Anxiety. Let's just knock that on the head together. Let's make a little agreement, you and I through the airwaves here that anxiety, that alcohol is not a solution. It's completely the opposite. If you are feeling anxious and you recognize that anxiety, then lock something else in. You know we’re all about the positive habits here so what is the positive habit that you're going to lock in? What does reduce anxiety? What does help us calm down? 

There's something which is all around you which is the most powerful at making a really quick impact on anxiety. It's completely free. You don't have to go to Tescos and queue two meters apart. You don't have to run down to the shop. You don't have to go anywhere. You don't have to open a bottle. You don't have to do any washing up afterwards. Nope, this is totally free to everybody.

You and I, we all have access to it. I know you know what it is, it's our breath. Breathing has one of the biggest impacts on calming anxiety. How do we do it? You can check out Wim Hof, he’s super cool. Go have a look at YouTube and look at Wim Hof, but as a small breathing technique, choosing meditation, following the breath, any of those things work. If you have an app, whip it open, just don't forget to breathe. We need to be breathing more now than never. 

When our parents said to us, “Just breathe. Just breathe,” when you are in the huh huh panic state. That's what we need to be saying to us right now. The world is in a panic state. It would be easy for us to get into a similar state, but let's not. Let's choose our breath.

What are we going to do? We are going to do four seconds in, four seconds hold, four seconds out, four seconds hold. Now, we’re going to do this together right now so that we help ourselves get in tune for what's coming in this podcast. Are you ready? Get yourself comfortable. Hopefully you're not doing anything crazy, well you won't be outside but we're going to do four. On the count of four, breathe in. 

Breathe in, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Breathe in, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Breathe in, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. Breathe in, two, three, four. I forgot the hold. 

That little technique helps you calm down your nervous system. It's just four, four, four, four. It'll help you with your anxiety. It will help you get in tune with what it is you really are searching for. It will help you see through the craziness that's out there right now so don't forget to breathe.

I'm glad we breathed. Breathe, I don't know… Anyway, I'm glad that we all did breathing together and now I'm going to have a little chat of what else is going on. A couple of days ago, the UK announced that alcohol was going to be on the critical list and there are multiple parts to this. In reality, our society is still really addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is pertinent to normal life, especially going home, being stuck at home with children, all the stress, and everything else. We need our booze.

Imagine they're protecting themselves against problems. Pardon me, with people getting upset and hoping to get access to their alcohol, but also as somebody quite rightly pointed out in the community that a lot of people actually have suffered chronic withdrawal symptoms if they were suddenly to stop drinking. This is really important when choosing to stop drinking is you need to be very aware of withdrawal symptoms. 

We can't judge too much, but what we can say is that people are still very much in love with the booze thing. When you're no beer, we're completely respectful of that. We totally understand. We were there too, it's just that we have seen the other side. It's that we've seen that it doesn't help with anxiety. It doesn't help with this fear. It doesn't help us see opportunity. It doesn't help us step up. It doesn't help us with parenting. It doesn't help us being a good partner. It doesn't help us with our productivity.

Those are all of the things that we need right now. Now is the time. Now is the time for us to be stepping up the most in the world. Now is the time we've been gifted this opportunity at home, working out at home, working out at home. Somebody posted something great today, a picture from Terminator, “I'm determined to come out from quarantine like this,” brandishing full armor ready to go, and that's it.

Imagine if you could have that mentality. I'm going to come out of quarantine fitter, faster, healthier, and happier than I ever was. Imagine if you held that vision of yourself. What would that person look like? Look at you in the mirror, what would you look like fitter? What would you look like with your shit together? With your head clear? With your stuff all in line? You just focus on getting stuff done at home.

Truly, I think this is a gift. I guess things are always a gift. We don't understand at the moment how they are. Of course, the change can be extremely painful, but this is a gift. I don't know what's going on for you. I have the most appreciation that it could feel like absolute hell right now. That it could feel like everything's falling apart and it's a total mess, but it is a gift and you're being shown something. Trying to see it as a gift will help you see more clearly through it.

How can I see how this can be a gift for me? I guess for me, I'm just very, very, very grateful that we're here with our family, that I got all this time with our kids even though I can't have a single conference call these days without being interrupted by kids. I imagine at some point during this podcast, I'll be interrupted because that is the new way of working. This is the new world, it's just amazing.

In fact, talking about the new world, I was waxing lyrical yesterday with some friends about how this could well be transformational. From working from home and getting used to that as a team, to being able to recruit people from all over the world and not necessarily have to be in an office space, because we've really nailed this home working thing. 

Also perhaps more about work life balance where the reality is that we just can't have that much of a day dedicated to work because we have families, we have other stuff going on, et cetera. The flexibility to move around throughout the week. I think it's going to be really interesting what comes out of all of this.

Back to our relationship with alcohol, and why right now is such a key time, and also tips for getting through this. We talked about anxiety and we talked about using breath. I think the other thing to realize is there are a lot of emotions at the moment, and often we use alcohol to numb out those emotions, really quiet them down and stuff down. But now is the time to be really feeling them.

Acknowledge our emotions. This is quite a powerful thing instead of holding back and fighting those tears, let it go. Cry, it's okay to cry. It's okay to feel really, really sad right now. It's okay to feel angry. It's okay to feel rage. Whenever that's pointed at, let it out, shout, because in dealing with our emotions, not only are we showing those around us. We allow us to express emotion, but you're going to keep less of it locked in and it's going to come less around to bite you in the bum later on.

One of the other things to think about when you're changing a relationship with alcohol right now or not sure, thinking about jumping into it, is really now there's never been a better time. Of course, alcohol really impacts the immune system. Alcohol causes inflammation and that impacts your immune system. You are more likely to catch Coronavirus and you're more likely to have a larger impact from drinking alcohol.

A, you got to go out to a shop somewhere to buy it in the first place, putting yourself into the place where you could pick it up in the first place. Second of all, it's going to have a bigger impact on you if you are regularly drinking. That's a great excuse to decide now is the time to stop drinking.

As we talked before, alcohol and kids do not mix. Hangovers and kids don't mix. Now is a great time to be stepping up. I heard the other day people are starting at two o’clock in the afternoon, no this is not going to last long. You might be in this little feeling of being on holiday, but then the hangover starts to settle in and that's when you think, “You know what? I really need to cut back on this,” and this is when we come in to help support you.

Now is the time to be stepping up, to be showing the world that alcohol free is the way forward, or changing your relationship with alcohol. Drinking considerably less during this time is the most important thing because we want to be open to opportunity. We want to be clear headed. We want to have that clarity and that productivity. We want to be able to see the opportunities in front of us. 

There will be opportunity. There will be moments of clarity for you that will make a massive difference and having a clear head is going to help you deal with all of this. Family strains, financial strains, business strains, career strains, whatever it is coming up in the coming months, keep your head clear and we are here to support you.

I've been trying to think about what it is that we can do to help support many, many more people. In a way, I've been thinking about how we have this incredibly engaged community to spend every day supporting others. Inside the community, recommending, commenting, helping people change their relationship with alcohol. The community is the lifeblood of what we do, but here's the thing. 

Over the last few years, with the content, with all this learning, with all these understanding is that we've all been training each other. We've been training each other to be our own experts in helping people change their relationship with alcohol. Our community is an expert. You guys are phenomenal at doing what you do. It has a real impact on people's lives. It's transformational.

I was wondering what would happen if we were to unleash this on the world. Here's where the idea struck my head. I saw the doctors, nurses, and people were struggling at the moment. I saw that some of them are relying on alcohol as a crutch. I saw people being put out of jobs, and self employed, and impacts on society. I saw people needing our support and I thought, “Ah, now people need us more than ever.” More than ever they need the support.

More than ever not just in changing relationships with alcohol, but everything One Year No Beer is about. It's about living life better, meditating, exercising, nutrition, focusing on doing challenges, and keeping yourself busy, kindness, positive psychology. That's what the world needs more of.

I sat down with my team and I said, “How do we do this? How are we going to help more people? How are we going to reach more people?” Then we came up with an idea. Why don't we just give it to them? Why don't we give away our 28 day challenge to anybody who's struggling, anybody who needs our support, anybody who's financially constrained, anybody who's serving right now, any of the NHS staff, anybody in the health services across the globe who wants support in their relationship with alcohol around mental health. That area, if they want support they can come and get the support for us.

We decided to give away our 28 day challenge for free, but we need your help. This is the most important thing. As our community, we need you to help us make a really big impact in the world. Here's what to do, first of all, if you love this idea and want to get behind us helping support anybody change their relationship with alcohol, then number one, share this message.

Share the podcast. Share any of the content coming out. We got some videos coming out about this. Hopefully some press releases. All of the stuff will be coming out, a good video or two I said already. Share it. Let people know. If you know somebody who can do with the support, tag them.

If you have a group or something, ask permission and then pop it into the Facebook group and say, “We will support anyone. We are giving away our 28 day challenge for free because we know it's going to have a massive impact on your life right now.” 

Here's the next piece and the most important piece, we need your help. We need you. We need you to support these new people coming in. We need you to help these people with their day one's, and their day two's, and their day three's like you do everyday. You've been showing up everyday and if you haven't been showing up, then you've been asking for support, now is the time for you to give back. I need your help. We need your help. One Year No Beer needs you now because we can have a really big impact on people's lives. 

We know that if you are regularly drinking, this might just change your life. If we can get people to realize that right now while their changing their environment, and they're stuck at home, and they are under all of this, and anxiety, fear, all of these stuff around, if we can get them to change their relationship with alcohol now, we can all come out of this smiling.

This is a big ask, I'm looking for your help in supporting us and share this message far and wide. Let people know just how great it is to be alcohol free right now. Even if that's just posting your own success story on your social feed. 

Maybe write an email to your friends, let them know. Talk to them, call some friends, let them know this is going on right now, “Come on, guys. Don't drink right now. Come and do this 28 days challenge. It's completely free and it will probably change your life. I know you think alcohol is the solution guys, but it's really not helping. Why don't some of you come to this challenge with me? It's free.” That's the message we want to see.

Help us share this now and let's see what kind of impact we can have on the world. I just want to say on a side note to this, an incredible, incredible thank you to our team. We are a small startup and we have our own financial constraints. We've been raising funds to try and keep this business alive, in fact we are going through a crowdfunding round right now within our community and we needed to make sure that we're going to stay the course through this time.

Even though the team is giving so much of themselves by giving away this for free, we still have to ask for the entire team to take a salary sacrifice, and I mean a considerable salary sacrifice. All of the team, every single person agreed to it. 

We’ve got a big team at One Year No Beer, we're 21 people right now who make One Year No Beer happen. That's a big team, and we have all stood side by side saying, “We are in this. We are doing this together. We want to really impact and change people's lives. We want One Year No Beer to survive, and weather the storm, and come out the other side. While we are making that sacrifice, we're going to give even more of ourselves.” I just want to say once again an incredible heartfelt thank you to our team who are putting themselves on the line and really giving so much at this difficult time. 

Thank you. If you enjoyed this message, if you appreciate what we are doing here at One Year No Beer then please just share what we are up to. Please let people know that we're offering this 28 day challenge. If you want to make a big scream about it, reach out to somebody, I don't know. If you know a journalist, let them know what we're up to here. We're trying to really change the world's relationship with alcohol and now is the time I think we all rise up to do that. 

Stay awesome. Hopefully some of this podcast was helpful for you and the normal guest will be back in routine next week. Talk soon, bye. 

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