Is sober boring?

So this post has been triggered by the shop keeper calling me boring for buying no alcohol G&T’s – Rude……I wasn’t even going to invite her round to drink them with me so I’m not sure what she was so concerend about! My initial response to said shopkeeper and perhaps one I should have kept to myself went a little like this “Hmmm well I find that I am much more fun now and pissed people repeating themselves all night bores the living daylights out me” Cringe…I am such a dick sometimes, I have now had time to reflect on this little encounter and rightly so, had to have a word with myself. In fact, I am quite shocked at my response, seriously who the hell do I think I am, the sober police? Bloody hell I don’t think she meant anything bad by it, in fact I once thought sober people were boring too, and what’s funny is, I would make a concious effort to avoid such people at parties, I, like many others, believed it was near impossible to have any fun without alcolol!

Since stopping drinking I now realise that this is absolute utter bollocks and that we are conditioned into thinking that we need alcohol to have fun, by the very clever and very rich alcohol industry. We have been led to believe that it enhances our social life and relieves anger, boredom and stress.
One of my biggest fears when I decided to quit drinking was that other people were going to think I was a boring sober person who had to be avoided at all costs.

I was so worried about how I could keep up Lisa the crazy party girl, Lisa the awesome host (always on hand to offer guests copious amounts of wine), or the rebellious version of Lisa – the one who believes you only live once and so encourages those around her to party into the early hours. Without booze on board I thought I couldn’t possibly still be any of those things, and I feared that I would turn into boring sober Lisa with absolutely nothing to offer.

That is until I challenged myself to 100 days of sobriety. I was beginning to lose my identity, I knew I didnt want to be out until the small hours anymore and I certainly didnt want the hangovers or anxiety the day after anymore, but I really didn’t want to be boring. I just wanted to see what life was like without alcohol in it, what would coversations be like, holidays, birthdays, airports? I wanted to experience life without booze…

What I have discovered is that sober is far from boring and although I have done loads of crazy stuff whilst being sober including a 7am morning rave under Mancunian Way, that Lisa the crazy party girl, isn’t actually a crazy party girl at all. I am happy being just me and without the mask of alcohol, I have discovered so much more about myself and those around me. Seriously, who knew that Party Girl Lisa is actually a chilled-out introvert and that mornings where so much fun? For me the fact that I wake up now without any crippling anxiety, remorse, guilt, headache and stomach-churning nausea is enough to keep me sober and if waking up refreshed, energised and invigorated every day is boring then so be it!

good morning

Did you know that you can change your drinking habits permanently with just days off the booze? Whether you want to cut down or quit altogether, the Sober Experiment is an awesome way to get started and reset your relationship with alcohol. If you are serious about going alcohol free and would love some support then why not join The 30 Day Sober Experiment

Stopped Drinking – Why Friends and Family React Weird!

Friends and family can sometimes react a bit funny when you decide to quit drinking, When I was a drinker I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little wary of sober people myself. Who am I kidding I was more than a little wary I thought sober people were like little secret spies waiting for me to say or do something stupid! I know now that I was so completely dependent on alcohol as a social lubricant, I genuinly just had no idea how to socialise without it, Drinking is a participation sport, so, when you choose to sit out, you don’t bond quite as well with those playing the sport and it is true people think you are a bit weird! The peer pressure is absolutely real when you decide not to drink.

When you tell those close to you that you have quit drinking and they react badly please don’t be offended, You see the truth is your close friends might feel like they are losing their bestest drinking partner. And your decision to not drink forces them to examine their own drinking. It can be a bit like you are holding up a mirror to your friends/family that says “I’ve decided my drinking needs to change and maybe you should look at your own drinking”. Your friends or family may feel that you are passing judgment on them. some maybe even feel a little betrayed somehow by your decision not to join in the drinking.

“Your close friends might feel like they are losing their bestest drinking partner”.

OK The science bit: Alex is the scientist so I confess to totally pinching this next bit from an article I read online but it totally makes sense, So lets look at it this way: Essentially, Humans are tribal social animals. From an evolutionary perspective, early humans had to form social groups to hunt, gather food, protect each other and survive. As a result, we have evolved tendencies to support group cohesion by conforming to group norms and shunning non-conformity. So if we tend to associate with people who are like us and engage in similar behaviours, and we start doing things in a way that goes against the group norms, such as not drinking in a social situation, this can be a challenge to the acceptability of that behaviour in the group.

“Remind yourself of the reasons you are cutting down or stopping drinking”.

Not the science bit: Remember Whatever your reason is to stop drinking, it belongs to you. You don’t have to explain to anyone why you’ve decided to quit drinking If you feel you can speak to somebody then be truthful, if they have been funny with you let them know it has hurt your feelings and explain what you are trying to do, remind yourself of the reasons you are cutting down or stopping drinking. A strong resolution to change your drinking can be an importantant part of resisting pressure to drink. Change takes time, and there will be times when you have to meet friends and family where they are but don’t be afraid to ask them to meet you in new, cool places. Some relationships will have to be rebuilt and it won’t happen overnight- but I genuinly believe you will be amazed at the depth and strength of relationships in sobriety- even with those who still drink around you.

L x

supportive friends

Join the Sober Experiment!

Change your relationship with alcohol for less than the price of a night out.

Let us support you through your own sober experiment. With the 30 days supported sober challenge You will receive access to the facebook group, the benefit of daily emails and coaching videos to educate you on the effects of alcohol and to help you to achieve your sobriety goal. This package costs just £30 (£1 per day) and will motivate and inspire you to commit fully to thirty days minimum. You can then decide how long you want to continue with sobriety.. This package includes a workbook and journal for you to complete to keep you focused on how you feel during your experiment and challenges your underlying beliefs about alcohol.

Lonliness in the early days of sobriety

It can be tough when your friends and family don’t understand why you want to quit drinking, It can also feel quite lonely at times. It’s hard enough anyway to begin with without the added pressure from those around you. Now there’s a few reasons people react like this but please know that this is usually about them more than it’s about you, some people may feel a bit threatened by your decision to quit drinking, it might highlight their own drinking habits and they might also be scared that your relationship with them might change.

So it’s time to be strong, If the negativity is coming from people that are close to you maybe it’s time to tell them that you are not asking for their approval however you would appreciate their love and support especially in the early days, Sobriety is a great filter for arseholes but your real friends will be going nowhere, and of course you will make many new friends along the way.

Helpful Tips to Overcome Loneliness

girl on beach

Cut Out Negative Influences.

Annoyingly there are always negative influences that are trying to stop you you from living positively They might come from your own thoughts or from the outside. Wherever or whatever it may be that is putting negative dents in your motivation, self-confidence and happiness. it is time to take control, Say no to going out with negative people, say yes to new things, maybe even have a social media cull, if you see negative posts come up on your timeline, unfollow them and follow motivational people instead. You can’t get rid of negative thoughts or situations altogether, but you can choose to focus on the good things. I personally believe that you can find a positive from anything that happens to you, no matter how small. Maybe you had a really bad day, but someone was kind enough to hold a door open for you. Hey if you are in early sobriety you have resisted temptation and not had a drink that is a huge positive. Positive thinking is so important its all about choosing to celebrate the good things and combat the bad by not letting it rule your life

Make friends and family a priority in your life

Make friends and family a priority in your life. Commit to them and make plans to show up for them and then follow through with that plan, How often have you made plans with friends or family and then had to bail because you were too hungover? Being a good friend requires give and take. Make sure you are there for them and remember to listen actively when someone else speaks to you too, Since stopping drinking I have found I listen and enjoy listening so much more now.
Your friends and family are the ones that are going to be there for you and I can guarentee they will love it when you actually turn up for coffeee, or for that walk you have planend.

friends

Get Comfortable with Yourself.

Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely, and if you don’t enjoy your own company who else is going to? The world is a busy place try and take a moment to step away from it, it’s easy to forget how nice it is to simply sit alone and enjoy your own company. Sit quietly in a room. Listen to everything that is not happening around you. You can learn a lot about yourself when there is nothing to distract you from the thoughts and feelings.

Join an online sobriety group

social network

Join an online group – It is easy to feel that you are on the fringe of society, especially in the early days. The sober experiment will support you during the early days of sobriety so if you haven’t already please sign up to the sober experiment below and the details for the Private Facebook Group will be sent to you by email. You are more than welcome to post on the group as often as you like, that’s what it is there for – We believe it’s important to spend time with others who share similar struggles and can provide a listening ear and honest feedback. Remember sober people are intelligent they can see who is healthy and working on themselves and who is not

L x

Stick with the winners and you will become one.

The Final Hangover

It all began with a hangover. In fact, two hangovers. Lisa first, then Alex. We have both always hated hangovers. From as far back as our drinking began we have called each other, usually on Facetime and confessed. Confessed to feeling terrible, confessed to the blackouts, confessed to the anxiety and confessed to feeling unhappy. The morning after the night before always started like this. And this is how the call would go…

Alex, “I feel so ill and I have been sick so many times this morning”. Lisa, “OMG me too. What happened?” Alex, “You did this and I did that”. Lisa, “oh no, I kind of remember. I feel like I have done something really bad, I feel guilty and I don’t know why”. Alex, “Ah don’t worry about it, you didn’t do anything, we are paying for it now anyway, you weren’t that bad, was I bad?” Lisa, “No, you were funny”, Alex “Oh good, that’s OK then” Lisa, “Are you sure I didn’t do anything wrong Alex?, I have such a bad feeling” Alex, “Don’t be stupid, it’s just because you got home later than we said we would, stuff what anyone thinks Lisa, it’s not our fault if they don’t know how to enjoy themselves is it?” Lisa, “No, you’re right, stuff them!” Then the laughter, and the complaints of sore heads and tiredness. Alex “I feel sick again, are you not hungover?” Lisa, “No, I’m not that bad to be honest, I’m just tired. I will need to have hair of the dog at some point though”, Alex “Oh no, I can’t think of anything worse. Can’t believe I am in the bad books, I know I came in and was a bit ridiculous and I wanted to dance in the front room but get a grip, it’s just a laugh”. Lisa, “yeah they need to get over it now”.

And so, the cycle would continue. Whether together or apart we would complain, continue to do damage to our relationships and excuse each other. Like facilitators and enablers! And we couldn’t see the reality. Lisa lived her hangovers in a permanent state of anxiety and self-loathing and Alex would spend the day throwing up and crying about how she wasn’t free to do whatever she wanted. The tiredness was due to the constantly interrupted sleep patterns of a heavy binge drinker. Truth is, neither of us felt good about our situation and neither of us was true to herself. Until the final hangover(s).

morning walk

Lisa went first, “Alex, I look and feel awful, I am stopping drinking”, then over a year later Alex “Lisa, I look and feel disgusting, I am also stopping drinking”. We sent photos to each other on the day of the last hangover(s) and Alex recorded a ‘Reminder Video’. We both committed (separately) to 100-days of sobriety and decided our experiment would become permanent.

Now our morning after the night before is often spent together on an early morning walk or drinking coffee in one or the other’s garden. Life couldn’t be better and it all began with a ‘Sober Experiment’ and a final hangover.

I can’t sleep!

How many times have you heard this, said this and believed this? How many times have you used alcohol to help you to sleep? I did, all the time. Just a glass or five to knock me out! A stressful day at work would keep me lying awake at night thinking about everything I had to do the next morning but if I had a bottle of wine I would sleep like a baby, out cold, comatose – for most of the night anyway. Alcohol helped me to sleep, it is a fact, isn’t it? So why, if that is a real fact, was I always knackered. How often have I said, “oh I don’t have a hangover, I’m just tired?”

The real truth is that using alcohol to help you sleep is absolute bollocks. Alcohol is one of the worst things you can used to have high quality sleep. Even one little glass will disrupt your normal, healthy sleep pattern. The next day tiredness is part of the hangover.

So before I can explain why alcohol and sleep don’t mix, I need to explain why that first glass of wine makes you feel so relaxed.

Let’s imagine for a minute you had never drank a drop of alcohol in your life or you had been completely sober for 6-12 months. In your brain there is a pleasure centre which is influenced, in the main, by two main chemicals – dopamine and serotonin. In a sober person, these chemicals, which are responsible for generating desires and cravings (dopamine) and satiety and inhibition (serotonin) are in balance, like a see-saw, so when levels of dopamine go up, the levels of serotonin rise to bring them back down to normal again and vice versa. This works without any outside influences. But when we drink alcohol, this is disrupted as we release pleasure endorphins. Even the anticipation of a drink can make you release endorphins, explaining the immediate relief when you sip your first drink of the day. As a result of the endorphin release, extra dopamine gets flooded into the system making us crave even more of what we want – the alcohol. The brain, not realising that this was your intention, tries to correct the imbalance, so it send a depressant to the pleasure centre to reduce the pleasure – explains why we want more. The problem is, our balance tilts too far into the negative zone and you start to feel miserable and down, so we drink again and this time the gap and imbalance is even bigger – cycle cycle cycle!

At the same time as this, the alcohol affects other parts of the brain causing it to shut down. It starts to numb the senses (noise doesn’t bother a drunk brain), we slow down, speech slurs, vision blurs and we stagger. The brain also develops an “I don’t give a shit about the consequences, look at me I’m party girl” attitude! So in a very physical and chemical way, this whole thing gets worse and we get pissed.

So now back to sleep. The first thing to note is that as we get ready for bed, the brain naturally reduces its activity so we feel less awake. When we drink regularly the brain stops doing this for itself and relies on the alcohol to do this. That’s why people who quit alcohol find it so difficult to get to sleep for a while.

The second thing to note is that there are two states of sleep made up of slow wave or deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. In a sober person there are approximately six cycles of REM sleep during the night. It isn’t really fully understood what REM sleep does for us, but studies in rats have shown that if they are deprived of REM sleep, they die in about 6 weeks (normal life expectancy 2 years). Sleep deprivation in humans has been shown to lead to cancer, diabetes, mood change, depression, anxiety and emotional trauma. Sleep literally heals the body and the mind. When someone drinks, even one drink, because of the dopamine and serotonin situation, nerve activity is reduced. When this happens, the brain tries to fix it and releases stimulants – slowly at first then more and more as the alcohol gets processed in an attempt to counter the effects. After about 5 hours after stopping drinking, when the alcohol has been processed, there are too many stimulants in the body and a deep drunken sleep turns into wide awake with anxiety or broken sleep that we put down to the hangover. In fact, you only have a maximum of two REM cycles in drunken sleep, so yes it may have helped to quite literally knock you out, but it can’t keep you there.

So, in a long term drinker, even someone who drinks small but regular amounts, sleep deprivation has been happening for years but they are so used to it, they don’t notice it – “I’m not hungover, just tired”. The body is in a state of permanent fatigue and at the end of the day when you slump into the chair feeling tired and craving your wine, it all starts again. It also explains why when you have a drink, you get the so-called ‘second-wind’ – all those stimulants!

Now for the good news, when you quit drinking and your brain starts to catch up to the fact that it isn’t getting any alcohol to switch off, it will start to work properly again, switching off the neurones and allowing you to feel naturally sleepy. This, coupled with the return of six cycles of REM sleep will start to give you some quality sleep back. This “I can’t sleep or I have anxiety since stopping drinking” will subside within the first 30 days. Why so long you might ask, well…. you’re catching up on years of shit sleep, that’s why quitting makes you tired initially! I think that one of the best things about getting sober was waking up feeling energised and ready to go instead of exhausted and groggy. Sweet dreams everyone!

Check out the Sober Experiment’s blog page, I loved their latest post! #soberlife #soberliving #blog #soberblog #quitalcohol

Confession – I want to drink wine today

It’s Friday and I want to drink wine, I won’t drink wine but after an exhausting day it has crossed my mind, It would be wrong of me to say since stopping just under 6 months ago that it doesn’t every now and again cross my mind! You know it’s Friday, I’ve had a busy day, the kids aren’t back at school yet, My teenagers have drove me up the wall (think terrible twos x 1000000000) Yep that bad!! It’s the first night I have had without my youngest teen in weeks, I could curl up in front of the fire, get a takeaway and a bottle of red and just forget about all my worries, sound good? Of course, it sounds good that’s what has been programmed into us from birth. I have spent my entire adult life drinking wine for every occasion, I have drunk wine to celebrate, commiserate, after a hard day at work, after a good day at work, I have drank wine when I am stressed, when I am not stressed. Switch the tv on, I bet you there is somebody drinking wine right now!

Well you know what I am not going to do it and just writing that paragraph above has already talked me out of whatever feeling I may have had about drinking wine tonight, (makes a coffee) Firstly because I am stubborn! I’ve always liked to be a little bit, shall we say “rebellious”, films for example, there isn’t a chance you’ll catch me watching that bird box until about 2025 and all the hype as died down.

More importantly though It really miffs me off that the alcohol industry have fooled us all into believing that it is some kind of magic potion!! We are surrounded by the message that alcohol is fun, sexy, desirable and harmless. We get this message so many times a day. We get it from adverts and, far more insidiously, we get it from the media, which depend upon alcohol advertising for a large share of their profits.

Did you know that last year Alcohol retained its position as the top-selling category in the UK, worth £16 billion in value sales, with gin experiencing double-digit growth across Western Europe. Why would they want us to believe that alcohol does anything but good?

Rant over, here’s a load of things you can do instead of drinking wine and as an added bonus none of them make you want to stick your head down the toilet, insult anybody, dance like a lemon, talk too loud, snog a stranger, sleep with somebody you never, ever in your right mind would even consider when your sober, get a random tattoo, fall over, cry, have a fight over trivial things, order approximately three times the amount of food that you are actually capable of eating, tell strangers that you love them, send drunk texts, smoke, have no respect for other people’s personal space, talk really loud, overshare, tweet something dumb, buy endless rounds of drink as though money has no meaning, reveal inappropriate secrets, fall asleep on public transport or text your ex you get the point right? and yes I am ashamed to say I have done all of the above and more!

So here goes!
write a blog – (it stopped me)
Soak in warm bath
Make some yummy comfort food
Watch your fave tv show
Go for a walk
Call an old friend
Start a journal
Go to the gym
Colour in a colouring book
Create a pinterest board
Create a dream board
Read a book
Make a coffee
Make a tea
Mindfully eat something delicious
Smile
Meditate
Do a random act of kindness
Have a nap
Sing your fave song – loudly
Do a stress relief hypnosis (try the buddhify app)
Slowly count to 9 – then back again
Learn a new skill
Go to bed earlier
Get a facial
Stretch
List all things you love about yourself
Forgive yourself for anything you think you have done wrong and let it go
Eat chocolate
Make affirmations
Practice positive thinking (replace each negative thought with something positive)
Start a new hobby
Clean
Discover the power of Reiki
Try Yoga (you tube)
Drink a detox smoothie
Volunteer
Watch the sunrise or sunset
Have a movie marathon
Get creative (pick up a paintbrush)
Organize your home (or the Tupperware cupboard)
Make a gratitude list
Eat at a new restaurant
Bake bread
Hang out with people you love

So thats me. I have made myself a coffee, I feel better that my rant about the alcohol industry is out of my system and I am sooooooo grateful that I wont be waking up with a hangover tomorrow. Tomorrow I have plans to see Alex. This time I know I will make it, no last minute texts saying I am poorly, or too hungover or, whatever other rubbishy excuses I used to come up with. I cant wait to see her, my gorgeous little god son and go for a walk and catch up over coffee! have. Have a great weekend

L x