I’m writing this on a Monday morning. This time five years ago, I’m almost certain that I would have been hung-over around this time. I would have just spent the entire weekend either drinking or lying in bed recovering from drinking, and by now, I’d have been feeling grumpy, desperate for carbohydrate-heavy food and absolutely exhausted.

Because we live in such an alcocentric society, it can be all too easy to believe that this is a normal way to live. So many of us will show up to work on a Monday morning clutching our heads and sharing our boozy stories with colleagues in the office: “What did you get up to on Saturday night? No! You didn’t!” It’s a ritual, the cementing of membership to a club – the Drinker’s Club. I relinquished my membership to that club in April 2011, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Here’s why.

Not drinking has given me clarity. I can’t believe how much of my headspace was once filled with thinking about drinking. This internal chatter focused on either planning my next drink or regretting my last drink(s). My evenings were mostly taken up by working my way through a bottle of wine in front of the TV, and weekends were spent either in the pub or sleeping off hangovers. None of this allowed me the freedom to think clearly – a fog of alcohol clouded my head permanently. Since becoming alcohol-free, I have discovered mental clarity, and it’s wonderful. I feel like I finally know myself, I trust my instincts, and I process the things that happen in my life in a healthy way, rather than merely letting them fester in a corner of my mind. All of this has meant I’ve grown up, emotionally.

Not drinking has given me physical wellbeing. I used to cough and splutter a lot on Monday mornings. Smoking went hand-in-hand with boozing for me, and getting through three packets of twenty cigarettes over the course of Saturday and Sunday was not unusual. I often used to worry about the effect my unhealthy lifestyle was having on my body, and in the last few years prior to quitting drinking, I thought a fair bit about getting cancer or liver disease. Since I became alcohol-free, I have thrown myself into running and I also do weights to stay toned. For the first time in my whole life (and I am nearly 40!) I like my body. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved through my commitment to staying fit, and it’s easy to keep the weight off now that I’m not drinking hundreds of empty wine calories each week.

Not drinking has restored my self-esteem. I did a lot of stuff that I wasn’t proud of when I drank. I had no off-switch and no idea that I was really out of it when, actually, I was at the stage where most people would call it a night and go home. I was selfish and mostly interested in getting drunk. When I put down the bottle for the last time, just over four years ago, I had to resolve some big mental issues. I was filled with regret and shame, and my self-esteem was on the floor. After a bit of therapy, a lot of running, and a solid commitment to not drinking alcohol, I slowly began to put the pieces back together again. Today I am a perfectly happy and content (almost) forty-year-old woman who likes herself, and who doesn’t do stupid things she regrets. Well, perhaps the odd little thing that we all do, but not the big humdingers, the drunken, stupid actions of someone who doesn’t like herself very much. They’ve been consigned to the drunken memory bank, and life is a whole lot better without them.

Not drinking has given me bags of time and energy. I estimate that as a non-drinker I have reclaimed about thirty hours per week of spare time. When you omit the drinking and associated recovery, you suddenly find yourself with bags of spare time with which to do what you please. Since I put an end to my boozy ways, I’ve written four books, launched Soberistas.com, become an avid runner, climbed mountains, spent countless hours running round the park with my toddler, read some brilliant books, watched lots of films and plays, seen some great live bands, and enjoyed regular quality nights out with my teenager. I have never felt as though I’m missing out on life by not drinking – quite the opposite. And nowadays I get to remember everything I do too, which is a major bonus!

I believe that being a Soberista is about enjoying yourself without alcohol. It’s a celebration of loving life, in control. With thousands of members making up the Soberistas community, we know there are loads of people out there enjoying this way of life – to find out more, see www.soberistas.com.

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