If there’s one thing I can guarantee you about sobriety, it’s that it will continually surprise you. When you stop drinking, you never really know what’s around the corner. Changing this one part of your life will lead to things you would never have predicted, or considered possible, or thought you were capable of.
Here are seven unexpected things that happen when you ditch alcohol:
1 – Little treats give you a big boost.
There will come a time when, after a bad day, you find yourself cheered up by a bubble bath and an early night. You – the person who used to need an entire bottle of wine to switch off – are happy with a cup of tea and a good book. Even though you sometimes worry that it sounds a bit sad and nerdy, you don’t really care because you feel so fan-bloody-tastic in the morning.
2 – Your productivity levels go through the roof.
When you’re trying to function through the fog of a hangover, it’s so hard to feel driven or motivated. Frankly, unloading the dishwasher and getting to work on time feels like an achievement. When you’re sober, you acquire a new superpower: the ability to get stuff done. You feel energetic, clear-headed and focused. There will come a point where you genuinely wonder how on earth you ever managed before.
3 – Your tastebuds change.
Herbal tea? Infused water? That flowery, namby-pamby stuff you used to hate? Well, you will probably start drinking that. (I used to have one type of tea at home: builders. Now I have a whole shelf dedicated to fruit tea.) A lot of people find their sense of smell and taste improves. Alcoholic drinks have a lot of sugar in them – developing a sweet tooth is also pretty common.
4- You lose weight easily.
Even if your newly discovered sweet tooth sees you inhaling pints of ice cream, or stealing sweets from children, somehow, you still manage to lose weight without trying too hard. Afterall, a bottle of wine contains around 600 calories – that’s the equivalent of 3 doughnuts. And the fact that you’re not hungover all the time means you eat better and are more likely to get some exercise.
5 – Your friendships change.
There’s no avoiding this one: you will have friends who feel unsettled by your decision to quit. Maybe they feel you’re overreacting, or they miss their drinking buddy or perhaps they feel their drinking is under attack. Some people will drift away, but your real friends will stick around, or move in closer. Sobriety is like a filter for your life – it helps you get clear on who and what should be in your world.
6 – You realise you’re not quite who you thought you were.
Alcohol is closely tied to our identity and sense of self. When you take booze away, you might find you’re no longer the one closing down bars and dancing on tables. It’s not that you can’t do those things, it might just be that you don’t want to anymore. Or you might find you’re a lot braver than you thought. Alcohol-free living forces you to go against the grain and stop following the crowd. If you’ve spent a lifetime trying to ‘fit in’ you might find that suddenly, you’re not so bothered about that anymore.
7 – You discover you’re capable of far more than you knew.
Sobriety brings its fair share of curve balls. When you remove the numbing shield that is booze, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s intense, challenging and exhilarating. But what you’ll discover is that you ARE capable of meeting these challenges head on. Step by step, little win by little win, you plough your way through the fog, because after all, this is not some dress rehearsal. Life is in session. And you are part of an extraordinary minority who are on the court, in the arena, and playing the game full out.
What unexpected side effects have you noticed about alcohol-free living?
No matter what stage of the game you’re at, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
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