OYNB Challenge: Day Six

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

The Backup Plan

The last time I went alcohol free, for an extended period, I went out on a works do. I knew there would be pressure to drink. At that point I had enough resolve not to bow to the peer pressure.

However, I spent a full night not enjoying myself because me being AF was the focus of many of the conversations. It got boring pretty fast. People trying to find out the “real reason” I’d stopped drinking because “I just want a break from alcohol” wasn’t good enough.

Looking back on this challenge and the advice given, I would now handle this differently.

OYNB offers good tips. The break from alcohol is one of the first step tips. But I didn’t try anything else. Now I would use the “I’m doing a challenge” tip. People love a challenge, not sure why.

The next stage is one I’ve been doing for years, but can’t for the life of me understand why I didn’t do it the night of the works do. In the past, when the night got to the tipping point of no longer being fun, I would just go home. Even when drunk I could spot that point and know when to exit.

This is what I should have done at the works do. As soon as it got to the point I was getting sick of the questioning and peer pressure, I should have picked the right moment and left. In a polite manner. People know this is something I do. For some reason, when sober, in my mind I thought it would be rude. I need to get over that.

Success (sort of)

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

Friday night was horrible. All the triggers were hitting me. I’m 45 and for as long as I can remember Friday has been a drinking night to ease the stress of the working week. Thats a hard, long term, habit to break.

I’d tried all the counter measures I’d put in place. Exercise, reading, listening to music, etc. But the craving was still strong. Luckily the off licence closes at 7pm, in these lockdown times. In the end I just took myself to bed.

When I say success, only by circumstance. Now I need to put things in place for next Friday night.

OYNB Challenge: Day Five

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

The Slip Up

Here’s a question I don’t need to answer, but I feel there is a decision to be made:

But what if you don’t catch it in time and you do slip up?

OYNB

To simplify things, there are two answers to this question:

Do I start again from the beginning and retrace the steps I have taken?

or

Do I write it off as part of the process and carry on?

Keep calm and carry on
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

In the past I have done a full reset, even over a one off blip. Which is fine, but I feel that this has been the wrong approach. Its tedious and I found that I soon lost interest and reverted back to old drinking habits pretty quickly.

Rather than fall in to that pattern, so long as it is a one off blip, I’m going to go for option two. Try something different and see where it takes me. It can’t be any worse than the alternative has been.

What Are My Triggers?

I guess this is the part where the blip is headed off at the pass. With depression I have learned to see the signs of my mental health deteriorating and try to take preemptive action. By identifying my triggers, or as many as I can at this current point in time, I should be able to do the same with drinking.

Trigger One

At Work. The last hour of the working day. Feeling stressed, tiredness after a long day of video calls, technology playing up, general work issues

Trigger Two

I could be anywhere. I feel depressed due to the pain I’m in. The thought to drink follows a day spent in pain. I get to 6pm and think I can now drink to numb the physical pain.

The list goes on and exists in my diary, but this blog post is getting too long, so I’ll spare you.

Good News

One thing not drinking has given me back is reading. I’ve enjoyed reading every night this week. It’s really helped ease the stress from the working day.

OYNB Challenge: Day Four

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Sleep

One thing I have been able to develop over the years is the ability to go to sleep. There once was a time when I’d sit awake for hours worrying about the day, things said, etc. But, as I’ve aged, this has largely gone away.

However, my pre-sleep routine is shocking. Sitting in bed watching endless YouTube videos, which are barely entertaining.

Today’s OYNB exercise is to put together a healthy pre-sleep routine. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Evening exercise – at the moment, walking the dog as part of the Nerd Fitness 5K Challenge preparation.
  • Reading – power up the old Kindle, kick the iPad out of the bedroom, and read in bed.
  • Meditation – I’ve been doing this in the mornings, but I am going to try to move it to the evening to see if it helps.

I would add drinking one of those “soothing” teas, but I’m of an age where ANY liquids too close to bed time and I’ll be peeing most the night. So, I’ll give that one a miss.

Nothing groundbreaking, or exciting, in that list. But, its all better than what I was doing before. Beer, YouTube, poor sleep pattern.

OYNB Challenge: Day Three

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Set a Challenge

Todays task is to set myself a challenge, or challenges, to re-focus my energy and thoughts away from alcohol. This could be something physical, or mental.

Knowing this task was coming, I already formed a list of things I’d like to do. However, due to recent health issues some are off the cards for the foreseeable future. So, I’ll keep those to myself for now. Here is my starter for ten list:

  • Take part in the Nerd Fitness 5K challenge. On July 18th I need to be ready to walk or run 5K. The frustrating thing is, before Covid19 and before I let alcohol take full control, I could do two 8K walks every weekend. In the last 3 to 4 months I have let things slip to the point where I can’t walk 1K without struggling with my breathing.
  • Write this blog. The initial goal is to do this for 28 days – the shortest AF challenge available on OYNB. Once that is done, I will extend to the next challenge length of 90 days.

    This will be a rolling challenge. The longer I stay AF, the longer the challenge goes on.

    Doing the gratitude blogging, earlier in the year, helped. It was like a morning meditation. Almost setting me up for the day. If I can’t exercise my body, like I used to, then I can exercise my mind every morning.
  • Deadlift my own bodyweight. I’ve done this, over a year ago. To get back to that level of strength would be a massive boost mentally. It would also be a milestone for my fitness. The timeframe for this is more long term. One year from now.

Triggers Update

Shark representing the book Jaws
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Yesterdays blog was about triggers and how I have dealt with them so far. Last night the 6pm trigger time came around again. I’d had a rough day mentally, had to face up to the reality that my health is rock bottom. Instead of reaching for a drink, I read.

I’m always looking for bargain books on Amazon, some bestsellers now and again are on sale for less than a coffee (insert preferred brand here). I now have a pretty impressive collection of unread books. So, as Steve Kamb (from Nerd Fitness) puts it, it was time to stop collecting underpants. You’d have to read his book Level Up Your Life to get that one.

So, last night, I sat on the sofa and read Jaws by Peter Benchley. I also put Slum Village Fantastic, Vol 2: Vinyl Instrumental on, whilst reading. A nice, chilled out evening.

OYNB Challenge: Day Two

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Make New Habits

  • What’s the trigger?
  • What reward do I want?
  • What routine can I replace it with?
  • How can I celebrate success?

Trigger

I am currently in pain, which made for a bad day yesterday. Despite being this, when it came to the magic time of 6pm, my thought process became “de-stress with a beer”. 6pm is when, in pre-covid19 times, I would get home from work. A beer or two would be my stress relief from the day.

Reward

I guess to ‘freeze out’ the bad day. In my mind the alcohol would help with the pain I am in, numb it. I would then be able to sleep better. Even though I know the sleep part isn’t how it works.

What Routine Can I Replace It With?

In this case I replaced it with playing a PC game, which took my mind off the alcohol. I also had a tonic water, which I could pretend was a gin and tonic.

Celebrating Success

In this case, the celebration is waking up without feeling worse than I already was.

OYNB Challenge: Day One

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Why Am I Here?

Day one, of the challenge, is simple. Answer the following, to get to my WHY.

  • What in your life is not working for you?
  • What needs to change with your habits and behaviour?
  • What have been the consequences of your drinking habits?
  • What will you gain from changing your relationship with alcohol?
  • Why is it just not an option for things to stay as they are?

What In Your Life Is Not Working For You?

Being constantly depressed. Being constantly unmotivated. Being unfit.

What Needs to Change With Your Habits and Behaviour?

I need to stop drinking everyday. I need to start looking after my health, physical and mental. I need to exercise daily, meditate daily and replace alcohol with things that have a positive effect on me.

What Have Been The Consequences of Your Drinking Habits?

Massive weight gain. Constant depression and anxiety. Lack of focus on my goals, professional and personal. My “life” has been reduced to nothing – very little interest in anything, very little action.

What will you gain from changing your relationship with alcohol?

My health. Focus. Energy.

Why is it just not an option for things to stay as they are?

The depression, largely brought on by alcohol, has become so bad at times that suicide has become more than a passing thought. Alcohol will kill me, one way or another.

#AF Day 4 – Isn’t Sleep Awesome!

Day four of the initial 28 days alcohol free – the aim ultimately is 90, then 365, but baby steps. Check out www.oneyearnobeer.com  for the full challenge.

Sleep and focus. That’s what day four brings.  And a much more positive mindset.  The fog of depression is lifting slowly.  Feeling so much better for that already.  Being alcohol free, even for this short period, is making its mark.