How to stop your wine o'clock habit
On 1 January 2017 I started an alcohol free month. I’ve done dry July the past few years with various success (last year needed a reset to dry August!). I’ve always admired those strong willed people who have a month off the booze in February or October. I can cope when we’re knee deep in winter but die at the thought of giving up alcohol in a nice month.
It’s pretty easy to get into the habit of drinking. I had a plan for AFDs (alcohol free days) Monday to Thursday but too frequently that was pulling back to Wednesday, maybe Tuesday on a bad day. The wine o'clock habit of 'walk in the door, keys down, glass out and pour' was very easy to slip into and easily sustained when it's an almost daily after work 'wine down'. I needed to interrupt the very comfy pattern I was in.
What goes hand in hand with frequency is quantity. A couple of glasses most nights adds up quickly right? Throw in a sneaky bubbly Friday after work and a Saturday night binge sesh and hello a couple of empty bottles of Adelaide HIlls pinot gris by Sunday night.
Women in their 40’s and 50’s are among the biggest binge drinkers around and are fast catching up to men in terms of problem drinking. Mild-mannered-mums are putting away 8 or more glasses per week in a bid to de-stress from the demands of work and home. It's our generation's version of a Bex and a lie down (who has time for a lie down?!).
The interesting thing about drinking is how enjoyable it is in the moment and how shit it is the next morning. Increasingly I’d suffer the next day blues with the fuzzy head and blocked nose while muttering about needing to knock off the mid-week wines.
I’ve never been too good at moderation. I’m the type that will open a bag of lollies or chips and eat the whole lot. The call of an open packet of anything in the cupboard has always been too tempting for me. But for all my shocking lack of moderation, I’m really good at going cold turkey. There’s something I enjoy about the denial, something about the challenge of giving things up that spurs me on.
So here I am nearly 5 months later with nary a drop of alcohol past my lips. When I started in January I didn’t really have an end date. Having come this far I’m thinking I will definitely go 6 months and then see what I think. My biggest fear is that I’ll have one drink and slip straight back into old habits. Just having the fear tells me I might need to go on a bit longer.
You don't realise how much our social occasions involve alcohol until you’re not drinking. I’ve got through family birthdays (including mine), knock off drinks, work events, parties, long haul flights, overseas holidays, free alcohol in the Qantas club (yes I even withstood free alcohol!!). I’ve sat there with my sparkling water or my cup of tea and felt ok about it. I have a suspicion though that I’m a lot more interesting when I’ve had a few (though when everyone is drinking and you’re stone cold sober, it is quickly revealed how uninteresting drunk people are!).
I’ve been making observations of unsuspecting drinking subjects in the wild. I reckon three drinks is the turning point. The point where the drinker’s face starts to contort a bit, the words slur a bit, the speech volume goes up a bit and the assertiveness goes up a notch towards aggression. It’s an ugly transformation to witness.
Yet somehow in this scenario everyone tells me I’m the boring one. If only they could see themselves. If only we could see ourselves in that moment we would know we are just the same. That's enough to motivate me for a bit longer.
If you want to reset your relationship with alcohol, head over to hellosundaymorning.com.au to access to their online supports and community. They have a great website and supportive social media platforms making the journey an easier one.