For non-drinkers December can be the cruellest month, with parties galore and practically every get together revolving around drink.
According to Drinkaware, almost two-thirds (61%) of drinkers in the UK claim they overindulge at Christmas. Having said that, almost 30% of 16–25-year-olds in the UK are shunning alcohol entirely. The research from BM Public Health found that more than 25% of young people classed themselves as non-drinkers.
What does all this mean? Well, I’m feeling rather smug knowing that I’m part of this healthy trend. I’m in with the youngsters! They accept me and in fact my 20-year-old son and friends admire me for choosing not to drink.
I find it’s usually the 40 to 60-year-olds who can’t get their head around why anyone would choose to go teetotal? Can you believe it’s the only life-threatening drug that we must justify not taking?
As a 46-year-old North East girl, I binge drank my way through university. I worked hard then partied harder in the London media scene of the 1990s – with expense accounts that could fill a bathtub of fine wine.
My tolerance increased and so did my drinking. I spent years deliberating over the amount I drank but I ran successful businesses, had three happy children, a contented hubby and I could run half marathons. Surely, I didn’t have a problem!
I made the decision to quit drinking altogether in lockdown, June 2020.
My motivators to quit the booze became obvious when I asked myself the following questions:
Have I ever gone out at Christmas and not drank, apart from when I was pregnant? N0!
Have I ever had a healthy, free-from-hangover New Year’s Day? N0!
Would I choose to book a taxi rather than drive? Any day!
Will I still be running the great north run in my 50s if I continue to drink like this? N0!
Am I feeling anxious each time I drink? Yes!
Would I eat certain foods if it made me feel so ill? NO Am I drinking because everybody else is? Yes!
Had I engaged more with drinking at Christmas than playing board games with my children? Yes!
Had I been so hungover on Christmas morning that I had to drag myself out of bed and pretend I’m okay so that my kids could open their presents? Yes!
The last question brings a tear to my eye as I write this. So much time wasted. Yes, I overspent and risked my good health but I can build up my bank account and improve my health.
However, we can’t reclaim time. Time is so precious, and I don’t want to waste another single second.
When I coach leaders and business owners, the subject of time comes up for them repeatedly. We look at our hierarchy of values and identify what’s getting in the way. We feel overwhelmed as we juggle work and life.
Although my coaching is evidence-based and scientific, we do a lot of internal work on behaviours and habits which enable long-term sustainable change to move my clients towards being the best versions of themselves. It was in fact these wonderful people who inspired me to walk the talk and not ‘give up drinking’, but ‘gain the gift of more time.’
Christmas is a celebration of love, family, connection, and shared emotion. Never have I been more excited to share Christmas this year knowing that I’ll be 18 months booze-free.
I won’t write off days, I’ll be wholly present for my family and my liver is in good health. Good luck to you and know that you are not alone.
And remember that if you choose to go teetotal or even decide to take the plunge and try just one night as driver, you’ll gain more time and be joining 25% of the youngsters!
Now doesn’t that feel good? Cheers!