I Gave Up Alcohol for Forty Days and this is What I Learned
By Thao Nguyen
This Sunday was Palm Sunday, which officially marks the end of Lent. That means that this Sunday I had been alcohol and coffee free for 40 Days. And while giving up coffee has taught me a lot (drinking lots and lots of tea will not make up for that caffeine kick), I’ve surprisingly learned more than I thought I would by giving up alcohol.
I spend a lot more on drinks than I initially thought. Before giving up alcohol for Lent, I really thought I was a light drinker. I rarely had more than a glass of wine a day, and a few mixed drinks when I went out with friends on the weekends. Turns out that adds up to a lot. My spending budget was a lot easier to stick to, and there were weeks where I spent less than half of that budget. Not drinking really made it easy to live within my means.
I’m more dependent on alcohol then I like. I hate cliches, but in this case I absolutely wanted what I couldn’t have. I found myself thinking “I need a drink,” or something along those lines several times a day, and as the days went on, I became increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t have one. It was super hard for me to unwind after work without a glass a wine and the thought of going home to just water seemed to make the day drag on forever. Similarly, whenever my friends and I hung out, there was a lot of “what now” going on because we thought we wouldn’t be able to have fun without some cocktails. I didn’t like that I had become dependent on alcohol to relax or have fun.
You don’t need to drink to have fun. My friends were incredibly supportive of me giving drinking up, and we became super creative about things to do when we were hanging out these last forty days. We found ourselves pushing ourselves out of out comfort zones and doing things we’ve always wanted to do, but never really found time for. It was a good reminder that having fun doesn’t require copious amounts of alcohol.
Self-control is really satisfying. As hard as it was to say no to a mojito or a moscato every weekend, I was always really proud of myself for turning away from drinks. I hate breaking promises, but I’m good at breaking promises I make with myself. So the fact that I made through the whole forty days gave me a sense of persistence and satisfaction. It was time I held myself accountable to myself. This experience was beyond beneficial to the way I viewed myself.
- Drinking won’t solve your problems. As I mentioned in lesson number 2, I desperately felt like I needed a drink on days when things weren’t going so well. Drinking had become a way for me to alleviate my feelings. Obviously, all the problems were still there when I sobered up - and being alcohol free for forty days really opened my eyes to that. Instead of looking for a way to not feel frustrated, upset, or disappointed, I solved the problems I was facing and got rid of them for good.