Wednesday 25th September / Gabriela Czwarnos
Guilty as charged, I do love a drink (or five). Whether it be my favourite prosecco on summer days (and nights), gin and tonic when I am ‘OUT OUT’ or an espresso martini, well, I guess just for LOLs. If you have a big group of friends, and what’s more, love meeting new ones, it takes an ocean of booze to survive weekends.
Not feeling sorry for myself, but frankly my good old Halifax has been stretched to the max lately and my poor liver can’t handle the party as well as it used to. So here, at the Vaults, we are doing Stoptober (https://www.gosober.org.uk/) and saying goodbye to booze for 30 days. No jokes.
It seems impossible, so to help ourselves and anyone else out there who is swapping their wine for tea, we’ve put together some top tips of how to survive the hardest 30 days of year… you’re welcome!
Tell it to EVERYONE
According to The American Society of Training and Development, if you commit to others that you will do something, you have 95% more chances to actually stick to it! So, go on, tell your family, friends, and work mates. Also, chances are that they might stop the usual Friday nagging “go on, let’s go for a one!”.
It takes two
Let’s face it, you will need all the support and help you can get. Find yourself another brave soul that wants to stop drinking for October and text them whenever you feel like you want to give up. You can set a report time (7pm, also known as a wine o’clock) to give each other a pep talk call.
Join the gym
Since your Friday evenings are now freed up, as well as those Saturday mornings that are usually wasted on hangovers, you might as well get fit. Gyms and classes are usually empty on Friday nights/Saturday mornings and that leaves you with no excuses. Make sure you choose pre-booked classes, where they charge you if you don’t show up. Money is always the most powerful motivator.
Go on, treat yourself!
I swear this is what my credit card whispers to me when I am hesitating at Zara’s till. Quitting drinking is simply removing a comfort from your life, which – if not replaced – will probably affect your motivation. If you usually stay for three G&T’s after work on Friday, you are allowed that new top at the end of the week. Simple as that!
Boost your endorphins
There is an actual research that proves the obvious: alcohol does make us happy. How? It releases feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in a part of our brain often referred to as the ‘pleasure centre’. Since you are not allowed to boost them with a glass of wine look for alternatives. Scientists got some good news for us here: that includes having sex (it not only boosts your endorphin levels but also releases the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, which makes you feel all warm and jolly), gorging on chocolate (cocoa contains mood-boosting substances) or… lighting a vanilla candle (researchers found that this specific smell can help ease anxiety and make you feel more relaxed).
Out of sight out of mind
That wine bottle left in the fridge will be staring at you and calling your name, trust me. Get rid of any alcohol that is left in the house. There is absolutely no need to test your willpower right now.
Never leave your mind unattended, most likely it will start wandering off towards stupid ideas, like going for a drink. Join an art class, start learning a new language, go rock climbing, get sucked in a new boxset … whatever you do, just STAY BUSY. This is a perfect opportunity to do all those things you never got around doing.
Most of us are ‘social’ drinkers – let’s face it, what else would you do than meet for a drink with your friends? There are many non-alcoholic options that will make you feel like you’re OUT OUT without getting tipsy. If you are a fan of gin just go for a tonic water with lots of fresh lime. Carry a small squash in your handbag and ask a barman to fill a wine glass with ice and soda water. Don’t forget about a straw. If it looks like a proper drink hopefully it will trick your mind into thinking it actually is! Every little helps.
The rewards for surviving a month with no booze are endless.
Number one: health
You will sleep better as alcohol can disturb the two crucial parts of your sleep – Slow Wave Sleep, which helps your body to reboot, and REM Sleep, which is the part when you learn and remember.
Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, but you will see it first on your skin as it will worsen the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It is also packed with sugar, which causes the skin to sag and triggers spots (famous post-drinking acne). ‘Wine Face’, anyone?
Let’s not forget about your liver. That little trooper breaks down alcohol into carbon dioxide, water and fat. When you have one too many, the fat can build up, causing a “fatty liver”. Fortunately, the problem usually disappears when you stop drinking excessively.
Number two: money
Three drinks on thirsty Thursday and a night out on Saturday can easily add up to at least 100 pounds. Times four, it adds up to quite a nice sum – just enough to book tickets to Bali.
Number three: weight
If you didn’t get your summer body this year (yet), Stoptober is your best bet. Alcohol is packed with empty calories and sugar so it can easily ruin your healthy diet and fitness regime, one bottle at a time. To give you an idea, 3 glasses of wine (large, of course) are about 450 calories. Same as a Snickers or a double cheeseburger. Also, let’s face it – no one tucks into a salad after getting home tipsy. Add your after-party fast food binge to a bottle of wine and you will end up probably doubling your daily calorie allowance.
Make friends with non-drinkers
… ok, forget that we all know that’s just not going to happen.