Waking each day feeling energised and ready to tackle whatever the day brings is truly a blessing.
I joined OYNB because I was not happy with my relationship with alcohol. Like many, the pandemic and lockdown hit hard, and it was just too easy to slip into the routine of daily drinking. Working remotely and trying to manage virtual schooling for my daughter was a challenge. And one glass of wine easily turned into one bottle of wine.
I can see a history of problematic drinking behaviours. At first it was an excuse to kick back and relax; a means of having fun in social situations. Then it became a good way to numb anxiety and deal with difficult situations and emotions. I realised my anxiety had grown worse and worse along with my increased drinking – to the point where I sometimes felt like I wished I could crawl out of my own skin to escape it.
I was fatigued and exhausted by 5pm most days and I couldn’t figure out why I had no energy. After multiple doctor visits and no clear answers, I knew that I needed to make a change. I was surprised when I answered the doctor’s question of “Do you drink and how much?” with “Yes and way too much every day” with a self-deprecating laugh that they never pressed for additional information or questioned it. I felt like I wasn’t being a good parent and I didn’t have energy for most things. I just knew I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling anymore and that I needed to make a change. I decided that 2021 was going to be my year of wellness, both mental and physical, and I knew my drinking was excessive.
I had done an OYNB 28-day challenge before, but kind of just white knuckled it and didn’t read the emails or watch the videos. My father passed shortly after I had finished it and before I knew it, it was just too easy to slip back into using a couple glasses of wine to relax. It was a very different experience for me this time around. I knew going into it that the type of change that I wanted needed to be a lifestyle shift and not just seeing “can I stop for a bit.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect when joining the OYNB Facebook group but have been so thankful for the support and empathy in the group. Hearing the stories of others made me feel like I could do this and succeed; and not only that, but I wasn’t alone in how I had been feeling. I was hoping to alter my relationship with alcohol – I was not expecting to wake about 9 days in and FEEL like my old self again. I really thought that aging was just taking its toll and I was just going to feel rundown all the time. It was very emotional for me – coming to the realisation that all of those doctor’s visits later and I was the one causing a lot of my own problems all along.
Everything began to click into place
I began to read some of the recommended quit lit and it made me feel ashamed of how long I abused my body with alcohol and also was quite startling because society sells this image so well of how alcohol is good. Looking around I see the ads for “mommy deserves a drink’ and the encouragement everywhere to drink. Like you aren’t really living if you’re not celebrating with champagne or using wine to decompress or having beers by the campfire, etc. Now that I am aware of it, I see it everywhere I turn.
Making more positive changes
With the renewed energy I have been able to start working out again and am down about 13lbs so far with a goal for another 15. Without the influence of alcohol, I make smarter and healthier food choices and am taking better care of my body. The overall shift in mindset to prioritise my personal health and wellness has been huge for me. But the biggest benefit has been an overall sense of mindfulness in all aspects of my life. Being present and in the moment with my daughter is such a precious gift. I feel like our relationship has become closer and I am more aware of her and her needs than I was before when I was constantly tired and sluggish feeling due to drinking.
The alcohol-free benefits
Physically the transformation has been remarkable to me – my eyes are wider and clearer. I look more awake. My stomach doesn’t look anywhere near as bloated. And after getting through the first rough week, I felt my anxiety levels significantly decrease. That has been such a blessing because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why it seemed my anxiety was getting worse and worse. I also am continuing on for 90 days and will likely go for 365 once I hit that goal. It’s been all positives for me.
One of the biggest changes I have noticed is that I am much more positive and happy than I was before. It’s like the alcohol stole my joy from me and I viewed life in general through a more negative, pessimistic lens. As I have become more mindful, I have become very aware of how much happier I feel each day.
The support within OYNB
The Facebook group has been wonderful to have. Being able to communicate with others who are facing the same struggles and challenges has been so helpful. The recommendations for helpful reading and literature as well as learning about alcohol free drink alternatives have been very helpful. I have read more books in the last 30 days than I probably did in the last 2 years.
Celebrating the success of others and the honesty and empathy when someone faces a challenge or blips is real and raw. It helps you to see all sides of this and realise how deeply alcohol impacts our lives in so many overwhelmingly negative ways. I love watching the videos during my morning treadmill session. It’s a good way to get the day started on the right note. I enjoy the stories and the additional information which provides good food for thought for that day. I have begun to get back into journaling as well and am really re-learning how to sit with my more uncomfortable emotions. It’s a process after numbing with alcohol for so long.
I have not had a drink in 35 days and am planning to continue that indefinitely for now. I can’t find a good reason to have a drink after all I have learned on this journey so far. It doesn’t seem worth it when I now understand from experiencing first-hand what it does to my body and my health (physical and mental). And I don’t ever want to get back to a place where I feel like I was feeling when I first started this challenge. Waking each day feeling energised and ready to tackle whatever the day brings is truly a blessing. I am overwhelmingly happier than when I started this challenge.
I would HIGHLY recommend OYNB to anyone has been struggling with their relationship with alcohol. You will learn and gain so much!
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.