I’ve used it for many things. From helping me get off to sleep to de-stressing during the workday. I’ve never used it to battle a craving though. I guess it’s worth a go, it works so well in other situations.
Not a lot to say today really. I am finding it ironic that since I stopped drinking my depression got worse for a while and now my gout has returned. These aren’t reasons to start drinking again. Its quite funny, in a warped way.
There is an “and finally” part of todays exercise, which is stop caring what others think about going alcohol free. There are a four tips before that one, but I see them as steps to that final one. In the case of not drinking, I’m already at the stage of not caring what others think and have been from day one.
One of the other five tips I will be implementing though. Which is to try to arrange social activities that don’t revolve around alcohol.
Whenever I met up with my eldest son, before lockdown, it was often at the pub. We’d have a couple of pints and a catch up. He’s now getting in to hiking, a common interest we can replace the pub meet ups with.
I won’t lie, this last week has been draining. Over the weekend I hit a real low point, a real deep and dark depression. Doing some research I now know this is part of the brains healing process. Things aren’t perfect now, but I feel like they’re slowly getting better.
I’ll get on to it. Seriously though, I’ve done this before and for a sustained period. I know what to do, it will just take adjustment to the food we buy in the weekly shop.
We already do part of the process. Weekly food prep for one, with healthy options that can just be re-heated. This takes out the temptation to go for a “quick, easy” snack. This is the trick for me. Make it easy, take away the temptation by limiting the options. If there are no snacks in the house, I will rarely go out to get some.
But, I do need to work on drinking more water during the day.
It took a while to differentiate this one from the Why’s exercise from Day One. I know what I want and why I want it. Not sure why it took me so long to realise that todays exercise was more about using willpower to overcome the “want” to have a drink to the mindset of just not wanting a drink at all. Getting to the point where alcohol isn’t really that important.
Part of that will be replacing alcohol with healthy habits. For me, at the moment, that is blogging, reading more and walking my dog. As I go further, these habits will be:
To be back in the gym (when we’re allowed and I’m back to decent health).
Meditate more – I enjoy it, but don’t put enough time in to it.
Hiking in my favourite places.
Taking some courses – I’ve always wanted to get that A Level in physics.
Seeing more of my family – again lockdown dependent.
All that feeds in to getting back to what I was like about a year and a half ago. Five stone lighter, working out daily, full of energy, good habits (most of the above). But I wan’t all of that WITHOUT the alcohol, which I have never done – it has always been there to some degree. I’d be fine five days of the week, then weekends would be a washout due to hangovers. I want the weekends to be productive, fully of activity, or restful.
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)
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.
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?
To simplify things, there are two answers to this question:
Do I start again from the beginning and retrace the steps I have taken?
Do I write it off as part of the process and carry on?
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this case, the celebration is waking up without feeling worse than I already was.