If you’ve been toying with the idea of going alcohol-free for a while, you’ve probably already thought about the benefits of quitting drinking.
There are the obvious things, such as waking up hangover free (that never gets old!) saving money and making the most of your free time.
Then there’s the fact that you’ll probably look better, gain energy and you might even lose a pound or two.
But to be honest, those well-known side effects are just the beginning.
The benefits of quitting drinking go much deeper than that…
1. You’ll care less about what other people think
When drinking is the norm, sobriety requires you to go against the grain and stand out from the crowd. This can feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, especially for those of us who’ve spent a long time trying to ‘fit in’.
However, once you’ve done one brave and hard thing, it’s much easier to do more. Before you know it, you’re making decisions based on what feels right for you, rather than what you think you ‘should’ do.
2. Being sober will make you feel strong and proud
Before I quit, I thought sobriety would make me feel boring, weird or like some kind of failure. This is not the case. Doing the thing you thought you couldn’t do (which so many others can’t even contemplate) is a real boost to your confidence.
3. Your sense of what’s possible changes
When you’re drinking, it’s easy to just accept the status quo or fall into a pattern of saying “No, I couldn’t do that.” Sobriety changes that perspective, forcing you to reassess what’s possible and figure out what you really want.
I have a secret Facebook group for women who’ve graduated from my stop drinking course, so I get to see what they’re doing with their alcohol-free lifestyle. It’s brilliant to hear about all the amazing things they get up to, because their beliefs about what they can achieve have been altered.
4. You can show up for the people you care about
When you’re alcohol free, you can ferry the kids around without feeling annoyed that it’s interrupting your drinking time. You don’t need to rush through their bedtime routine so you can get back to your drink. You don’t have to cancel your weekend plans because you feel ill.
It’s so much easier to do the things that matter – and follow through on your good intentions – when you’re not feeling hungover or preoccupied by booze.
5. You can figure out what really makes you happy
Society has conditioned us to believe that drinking brings joy, and therefore sobriety will make us miserable. Yet when we step back and think about this, we can see it’s nonsense. If alcohol truly made us happy, you’d never meet a miserable drinker (and you probably wouldn’t be reading this!)
One of the benefits of quitting drinking is that you get to work out what truly brings you joy as an adult (if you’ve been drinking for a long time, you might not know). You also get the opportunity to work on the underlying issues that drove you to drink in the first place.
6. You’ll get clearer about who you want in your life
Sobriety is a great filter. When you remove this distracting, mind-altering substance from your life, it becomes a lot easier to see what is and isn’t working. Without alcohol papering over the cracks, some relationships won’t seem quite so solid, whilst others will feel much stronger than you anticipated. Either way, the blinkers are off and that is a good thing.
7. You find out who you really are
If you’ve spent decades thinking “Oh, I need a few drinks before I can do that” then the chances are you have a lot to learn about yourself. It is fascinating to get sober and discover that you’re not quite as shy as you thought and you can network without alcohol.
If you’ve spent years (or even decades) relying on alcohol to get you through awkward situations, you won’t know what you’re truly capable of yet. I bet you surprise yourself.
8. You have more options
When you’re sober, you can drive yourself home from a night out. You can pick a restaurant based on the food, rather than the wine menu. You can give your partner your full attention, rather than keeping one eye on the bottle. And you can stay out late and still get stuff done the next day, because you’re not hungover.
When we talk about sobriety, we tend to focus solely on the thing that’s being taken away, rather than the benefits of quitting drinking. Yet by removing alcohol from the picture, what we’re really doing is creating space for lots more options, choices and benefits.
9. You’re fully present
I think it’s interesting that alcohol adverts often promote booze as a way to connect. In my experience, drinking tends to make us less connected. You might be physically present but mentally, it can be a whole different story.
When alcohol steals our focus, we miss the subtler stuff – the special moments that make life what it is. We get short changed on memories. It doesn’t matter how many photos you take on a special occasion, nothing is going to be as good as being able to remember it yourself.
10. You’re free to live your best life
As a sobriety coach, the big thing I’ve noticed is that many women drinkers simply aren’t living their lives the way they want to. They’ve lost confidence in themselves. They don’t have the energy to do the things they used to love. They can’t focus on their goals, hopes or dreams because booze keeps holding them back.
Cutting out alcohol is about so much more than just not drinking. It’s about removing a roadblock to happiness and giving yourself the chance to live life fully. And trust me, there is so much life available on the other side of alcohol.
If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.