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Re-evaluating My Relationship with Alcohol

Let me start out by saying I’d be lying if I said I was a big drinker to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of college nights out at the bar, taking shots with friends, going to wineries, and having one too many on a night out. I even have an alter-ego with the name Tina who those close to me know, comes out when the drinks are flowing. Even a few years post-college, it was still so common for Thanksgiving-eve or New Year's to have the activities be surrounded by alcohol. In the last few years, the draw for me to spend hours drinking (and spend money on drinking) has become farther and fewer between. As I continue to explore and experiment on my own health journey, constantly listening to my body as I go through different seasons of life, I felt drawn to take some time to take a step back and really evaluate my relationship with alcohol, at this stage in my life. One month, a full 30 days with no alcohol was my commitment to myself to really check in.

It’s hard in today’s society where drinking has become such a social activity and its often questioned why you aren’t drinking more than why are you drinking? This was one question I got asked most often during my dry month (next to the question — are you pregnant?!… I’m not!).

I attended a friend’s bachelorette weekend while on my dry month. Typically bachelorette trips are centered around alcohol, or at least nowadays they seem to be. Activities like drinking games, going out to bars, and buying the bride or bridal party shots are front and center as part of the festivities and celebrations. Fortunately, the group I was going with was one of my best friends and I knew there would be no pressure from the bride to drink. It seems that peer pressure and social pressure, in general, seem to be a big factor when it comes to alcohol. It goes back to that question of why aren’t you drinking. Do you need to have a reason? And the answer is no! Just like anything else related to your health, it's your choice. Fortunately for me, I got this question more out of curiosity than pressure. But it is still interesting. There often seems to be a need for clarification for others, instead of just saying okay and accepting it.

Unless you have a “solid” reason, you often run into people trying to rally you into having a drink…or two.

It’ll be fun!!

Come on, we’re celebrating!

Don’t be lame!

....heard any of these before? Said any of these before? (I have in the past too, don't worry!)

I didn’t get any of this on my recent trips/nights out thankfully but have in the past on nights that I just didn't feel like having a drink. Drinking is associated with having fun, letting loose, and memorable (or not so memorable) nights. But so can the nights without drinking! I had a great time on the bachelorette trip. I made mocktails to drink on the beach pairing them with plenty of water (which also helped me stay hydrated in the sun) and I woke up the next morning not feeling like shit because I wasn’t hungover from the shots and drinks the day/night before. I was still able to attend other celebratory meals and baseball games throughout the month and enjoy conversation and create memorable moments without a glass of wine or cocktail. I didn't feel like I missed out on anything because I wasn’t drinking.

I will say that a lot of my comfort and confidence in being okay with saying no to alcohol and being okay going against the “social - norm” is because of the journey and experiences I’ve had up to this point in my life. Rewind even just 5-6 years ago I might not have had the same response. But as a result of taking time to connect with who I am, what feels good for me, and being confident in my person I felt grounded in saying no and being sober around others who are not. I strongly advocate for taking some time to connect to yourself without alcohol. Really tuning in to who you are as a person, alone and with others.

Now we all know that alcohol impacts our bodies both physically and mentally. Even before this dry month, I would go most days of the month without a drink but on occasion, I would have a night with one or two. I was curious to see how I would feel without any alcohol to disrupt my system for consecutive days both physically and mentally. Overall, I felt great! I’m a morning person so waking up in the mornings (those Saturdays and Sundays especially) and being able to do the things that I love without the foggy-headed, pounding-headache, or the congestion was the best!! Joey and I still were able to go out and enjoy a dinner out and relax on the weekends. By not feeling hungover or even just off from the night before, my weekends felt productive by still getting up early and taking advantage of the time to work out, hit the farmers market, or even just work on things around the house.

So what does this mean for alcohol in the future? After my dry month, I went on a birthday celebration trip with my best friends and rang in a new decade together. I wanted to enjoy my margarita by the pool & beach soaking in the sunshine... and that's exactly what I did. I still enjoy a good cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner. I am even more confident in myself and my decisions when I choose not to drink no matter the setting and sticking to it. Old me might have given in to peer pressure or felt I needed a drink in hand to not feel awkward. But this version of me is proud when I say no and know that I don't need to justify my reasoning to anyone.

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