Both Mr. Piggybanks and myself embarked on a no-alcohol Dry February at the beginning of this month. His reasons were centred around health and fitness in the lead up to a sports competition, while mine were around getting control of my free time and finances in addition to breaking unhealthy habits. Having someone to do the challenge alongside me has made a big difference so and so far, it’s been surprisingly easy and enjoyable for me.
To recap, why am I doing a 28 Day Dry February? A few reasons (from my first post here):
- While I had a great time last year, I realised I spent the majority of my weekends either being drunk or hungover. I don’t want to waste any more time doing things that don’t add value to my life.
- These big weekends were often my way to distract myself and postpone doing what did actually create value in my life due to fear of failure, success and social FOMO.
- Being drunk had negative physical and financial consequences including weight gain, bad and regular acne breakouts, feeling hungover and groggy all weekend, anxiety from what my bank balance will look like the morning after, wasting tens of thousands of dollars on entertainment (see post), not remembering what happened the night before or remembering doing stupid shit.
As someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of disposable income and free time, I don’t want to look back at my mid-20s and think of how much time and money I wasted on being drunk.
Being three weeks (more importantly, 3 weekends) into Dry February, I’m surprised at how easy it has been. I was expecting feeling strong urges and desires for a cold glass of Pinot Grigio or cider at the end of the week or waves of #FOMO when going out with friends. I anticipated feeling nervous going out to bars and thought I’d feel self-conscious and awkward when dancing. Or that friends would feel uncomfortable around me or feel I was less fun without alcohol.
Turns out for me that all of these social anxieties mulling around in my head never eventuated and the absence of alcohol didn’t dilute the fun I had. So far, I’ve made it 19 days without a drink, been out dancing until the early morning, entertained friends with drinks at mine, been to a dinner party and had water instead of wine. As an added benefit, my ‘entertainment’ expenses are half that of last month! Win!
Mr. Piggybanks’ Dry February hasn’t been all smooth sailing. He’s found it a lot harder and had been craving the experience of a cold beer and it’s crisp, refreshing taste, especially in the Sydney humidity and hot weather. On top of that, he’s usually the one instigating work drinks so that has added to his FOMO. It seems to have been quite punishing on him so the experience hasn’t been as positive as my own. Unfortunately this weekend, he broke his Challenge and had a beer this weekend with mates.
My lessons of enlightenment in the 3 weeks of no alcohol:
- Not drinking alcohol around friends is only a big deal if you make it a big deal. If you don’t draw attention to it, no one cares or notices. This is the most important lesson I learned.
- Finding substitutes is the best way to change a habit. My desire for a refreshing cocktail was satisfied by a refreshing mocktail. Same benefit of a enjoying the experience of a cocktail without the hangover and $20 price tag.
- All of the social anxieties you have are all in your head. Not drinking doesn’t make you any less fun, just less sloppy. You’d have the added benefit of being able to get up in the morning and feel awake.
- You can still go out to a club and dance until the early morning and have a great time.
- Your lifestyle can stay the same, without alcohol.
With a week and a half to go, I’m sure it will fly by. I’m loving having frozen watermelon and mint juices in the morning and elderflower and berry spritz in the evening. Not having alcohol has made no impact or change on my lifestyle as I’ve substituted alcohol for something non-alcoholic but just as enjoyable. Going to the gym more regularly has also meant less time to go out with the added side benefit of naturally wanting to and enjoying being healthier.
xx Miss Piggy
Cover Illustration by Holly Exley