Two nights ago I got totally plastered. I’m not sure I even want to relive the experience, but I’ve been wondering what lead me to that point as I try to get past the next day(s) shame. Drunk texting someone I thought I was over was not my finest hour – cringe.
Since my last trip to New York in September, for Fashion Week, I’d upped my alcohol consumption considerably. The more I thought about why the more I realised the moment things went south with aforementioned ‘drunk text’ guy, I started to drown my sorrows. It’s not just that, it’s balancing work and training and trying to eat right all at the same time; finally, the stress just got to me. I needed something to take the edge off, to relax me and drinking certainly helped. But in hindsight it merely masked my problems, rather than making them disappear, and perhaps now it’s only made things worse.
So I decided to stop, but just like when you claim your diets going to start ‘on Monday’ and you spend the whole weekend eating all your favourite food, I ended up drinking way too much on the night that was to be my last hurrah. When I woke up the next day I realised that I’d spent the last six weeks feeling sad, lost and missing the happy person I’d become after my life changing three months in New York (read more here) at the beginning of the year. Who knew one drunk night could be so eye-opening!
All types of binging be it food or alcohol are triggered by negative emotions (anxiety, stress and depression), in an attempt to deal with them – healthy or rational it is not. When we drink the brain releases the hormone dopamine, which feels pretty darn good in the moment, (especially when stress triggers reward seeking tendencies). However, alcohol by nature is a depressant, so if you’re not a happy bunny, chances are your mood will be worse come morning. My issue is by no means a ‘real’ problem but one embarrassing night, the feeling that I’m not in control of my emotions and the bloating alone is enough to make me incredibly keen to nip this in the bud and deal with my current issues in a more healthy manner.
I need to make some changes, re-evaluate what’s important to me and most importantly forgive myself for having been so weak when it came to ‘drunk text’ guy. Perhaps that text and his reaction was what I needed to put the final nail in the coffin and move on (sadly sans dignity). But what to do about all my other life stresses? Well I need to practise what I preach and not put so much pressure on myself. Going to the gym four times instead of six one week does not a failure make and equally being stricter with what I eat because it will get me to my goal and make me feel happier about myself doesn’t mean I’m being dangerously obsessive. I want to stop living on autopilot, and start asking myself if the things I’m doing, and people I’m surrounding myself with etc are truly making me happy. A first world problem perhaps; why are we all so obsessed with being happy? Maybe if we didn’t work so hard at searching for happiness we would simply be a little more content? But that’s a question for another day.
Are you thinking about becoming a booze free zone? Worried about how to navigate the social scene without a drink in hand? Or how to cope with life’s stresses? These are some of the stand out experiences from the last time I gave up. They may well be what you need to hear to take the leap yourself.
Dating as a Teetotaller…
There’s no doubt that alcohol is a social lubricant, but I found dating with a clear head is surprisingly helpful. Ever kissed a guy at the end of a date and woke up the next day and wondered if you even actually like them? Well that never happens on a booze free date (in my experience anyway). I have tried lying about why I wasn’t drinking – antibiotics, driving etc but I found it hard to keep up, and since I wasn’t looking for superficial encounters, honesty as it turns out was the best policy. The right kind of guys admired me for my strength of character and the positive decision I’d made for myself, and those who found it weird and couldn’t think of anything else to do on a date than go to a bar weren’t right for me. Turned out being sober weeded out the weaker candidates – result! I also found dates that didn’t centre around bars were more fun, a shared experience like skating (although I wish he’d told me beforehand so I didn’t look like the most over dressed person on the roller rink), a hike, a gallery visit etc. These types of outings always helped me get to know my date faster, giving me the ability to see if we really clicked.
Don’t let ‘friends’ pressure you into drinking, by making you feel bad about letting them drink alone. If they can’t handle it one-on-one, then suggest going out in a bigger group. I remember it took a while for some of my friends to get their heads around me not drinking, but if you stand firm they will know you mean business. Once they realised I’m still the super fun girl without a drink as I had been while drinking, they soon forgot I was necking water while they downed vodka shots. It’s also beneficial to keep in mind that real friends will support your healthy life choices, fake friends won’t. The best part was, on nights out I never ended up at an after-party if I didn’t want to be there and the next day while everyone else’s was a total write-off, I could make the most out of mine.
Cheaper than a massage, more sociable than watching TV alone, a couple of glasses of wine or some cocktails with friends can be a convenient and quick relaxation fix. But, as I’ve realised this time around, it only works short-term and doesn’t do much to fix issues that are a little more deep rooted. It’s important to find new ways of relaxing. Here are just some activities I’ve loved in the past that I’m looking to reinstate asap.
Read a good book
Spend time in the great outdoors
Listen to music