Dear September 2020 me,
I know that you think 2020 has been a big year already – a global pandemic, working from home, overseas travel plans scrapped (in fact trips to locations within your own state are looking tenuous).
Now, just when you thought that you have handled as much change as you can for one year, you’re about to shake things up a bit more.
You’re planning to take a break from drinking but are very apprehensive about this decision.
On one hand you know that you’ll feel so much better – physically and mentally – by taking a break. You, like many of those around you, have seen a steady increase in the amount you’ve been drinking since COVID hit and, while at first it was something everyone joked about, it’s no longer funny.
You’re feeling sluggish, your hormones are going haywire and you’re not sleeping well.
So, yes, a break would be good for you.
However, you are asking yourself if you really want to give up the wine. After all, it provides relief when life is stressful and surely a global pandemic counts as a stressful time.
As your future (dare I say ‘wiser’) self, I’m here to tell you that you should not worry about this decision as much as you currently are. This choice will be one of the best decisions you have ever made for your wellbeing.
I know you have loads of questions so let me answer a few of them.
I’m aiming for three months alcohol free. Am I being too extreme?
No, you are not being extreme despite the look of shock that most of your friends will give you when you tell them that you’re off the booze!
Starting out with three months is a good goal. You’ll soon realise that you’re feeling much better by not drinking and, despite your concerns about giving up drinking, it actually won’t be as difficult as you anticipate.
In terms of being an extreme measure, consider all the other things people give up if it makes them feel physically or mentally under par – smoking, sugar, deep-fried foods.
People wouldn’t accuse you of being extreme if you gave up things that were having such a negative impact on your health. Instead, they would be congratulating you for making a healthy life choice.
Yet somehow choosing not to drink is seen as extreme and a bit questionable.
But what will I say to people?
This is a big concern of yours and, as it turns out, it’s one that many people who choose to give up drinking worry about. My advice to you, and to anyone else who asks me this, is to tell people whatever you feel comfortable with.
For the first couple of months you will tell people that you’re giving up for a few months because you know drinking is making your perimenopausal symptoms (hot flushes, waking up in the middle of the night, weight gain) worse.
This is true and giving up the grog takes away all these symptoms. In fact, you start to wonder if your perimenopausal symptoms were really hormone related or just side-effects from one too many glasses of white wine!
But after a while you simply tell the truth – that you feel so much healthier and you actually prefer not to drink alcohol.
I know you find this hard to believe September 2020 me, but I assure you this is true!
What about socialising and going on holidays, what will I do?
You’ll socialise and go on holidays! I know you don’t believe me now but deciding not to drink will not impact your social life. You’ll find some great alcohol-free (AF) alternatives – AF wines, bubbles and spirits as well as mocktails, kombucha and ginger beer – that you’ll love.
You will bring your favourite AF drinks when visiting other people, have a selection of options in your fridge when entertaining at home and you’ll learn to ask bartenders and waiters what alcohol-free options they serve.
You’ll actually be surprised at how many places have AF drinks and I’m not just talking about the drinks on the kids’ menu. I’ve had bartenders make me a mocktail even if it isn’t on the drinks list, so it’s worth asking.
A final word
Lastly, my advice to you, my younger self, is to embrace this change rather than fear it. You’ll feel so much better, you’ll become more curious about the impacts of alcohol, begin to realise why moderation was so hard and realise that you actually prefer life without alcohol.
Your three-month original goal will expand out to a year – and beyond. You’ll take a deep dive into the subject, begin writing a blog to help you work through this lifestyle change and support others who are worried about the impact alcohol is having on their physical and mental health. You’ll meet some amazing people who have also made the same choice, for a range of reasons, and who are all seeing the benefits of what initially seemed like such an extreme decision.
So, stop worrying younger me. Ditch the wine and get on with your life. I promise that you won’t regret it.
Yours in health, happiness and wellbeing,
Rachael is a writer, certified alcohol coach and lover of travel. Her light-bulb moment was realising that you don’t have to hit rock bottom to decide that life is far better without the booze. She loves being at the beach, discovering new mocktails and becoming engrossed in a novel – preferably all three at the same time.
Follow Rachael on Instagram here!
22 CommentsAdd a comment
Well done Rach! I read a million of these types of blogs when I was nearing the end of my drinking, every single one gave me a little more courage until I was ready. Thank you 🙂
I love your story Rachael! I’m just starting out and hearing you from the future is so helpful. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for this, Rachael. My younger self who gave up alcohol is just 107 days younger and happy to read that the improvements and positive feelings will continue. Keep up the good work! I know I intend to do so, and you have provided some of the inspiration. Thank you again.
Great piece and not punitive but rather ,inspiring, thanks Rachel
Great letter September2020/Rachael. Very inspiring. I’m at 6 weeks AF, with 3 months being the initial goal.
This feels like I wrote it myself, currently getting to the 3 month point and feel like I want to keep going. Thank you for the insight
What a lovely letter to the soul. And I particularly appreciate the idea that you don’t have to hit rock bottom to appreciate the benefits of alcohol free! Thank you.
Absolutely Val. My big a-ha moment was that you don’t have to hit rock bottom to choose an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Sorry Bev. I wrote Val’s name instead of yours but the sentiment is the same!
Very well done. This is inspiring and makes me think outside the square of my relationship with alcohol. Thankyou Rachael!
Thanks Val. It wasn’t until I started to think outside the square that I even considered that giving up drinking for longer than a month (e.g. Dry July, etc) was even an option.
Yes, yes and yes. Summed up all my experience when not drinking alcohol. I prefer being alcohol free. I feel so much better and I am sleeping so much better! Just like Edward Norton in Fight Club after visiting the support groups 😉
Yes – the sleep! So much better.
And oh my! The taste of coffee!! It tastes so much better now:)
The social aspect is interesting and very real – day 20 for me today and have a social event this afternoon at a friends place, mineral water in hand i’m ready to say i’m not drinking. Wonder if they will notice how great my skin is looking, I do and I love what not drinking is doing for me. Thank you for your insight.
My partner and I successfully completed 100 days alcohol free yesterday. We have a celebratory dinner booked for tonight and the question we’re struggling with is do we have one drink to acknowledge this milestone or do we set a new milestone? Your article is good timing – I could order a mock tail instead!
I’m just about to start out and it’s really inspiring.. thank you
I love this letter! It resonates strongly with me. Thank you.
Great article. I see me in this article
I truly believe and see that both men and women under-estimate the detrimental effects of alcohol. Your words tell us the truth of what will happen when you quit drinking. That is what we need to hear. Thank you.
What an amazing letter, and so encouraging! Makes me really want to keep going!
I quit drinking on 9 November 2020 with goal of 3 months then 6 months then one year.
I didn’t cheat like Jonathan Thompson from Men’s Health who drank on the 56 day yet wrote the article “100 Days Without Alcohol” !?
(When I read a statement that Mr. Mel Gibson said that you don’t realize the benefits of not drinking alcohol till after 6 months, I changed my goal from 3 to 6 months. He was right.)
I think it’s weird when people are afraid to tell people that they quit drinking alcohol. It’s as if they are seeking other peoples’ approval! Why?
All the benefits are real and after awhile it’s not a big deal not to drink alcohol. Moreover, there’s no reason to disguised drinks at a bar to make it seem like you’re drinking an alcoholic drink. Club soda is just fine.