Brighter and better, the benefits of cutting back-by Lucy from Soberistas

Posted 26.01.2016

When I quit drinking almost five years ago, it was with a heavy heart. I stopped because I knew that alcohol was bringing about more negatives in my life than it was positives, but I had no idea how to live completely soberly. I had drunk fairly heavily for over twenty years and it was a habit that was deeply entwined into my daily existence.

The initial first few months were difficult, and learning to experience emotions – real, genuine feelings – free from the numbing properties of booze took some getting used to. But after a while, not drinking became my new normal. And I gradually began to realise that I actually preferred living that way to my old life of knocking back the wine in the evenings and muddling through my days with a permanent low-level hangover.

The benefits of being teetotal have genuinely surprised me: the easier-to-manage weight, brighter eyes, better quality sleep and no more time wasted nursing hangovers were all expected (but nonetheless still pleasant) consequences. But there have been many more positive outcomes of this new way of life that I didn’t expect.

As a non-drinker, my mood remains (mostly) on an even keel, I feel happy and optimistic for the majority of the time, and my energy levels have increased massively. I’ve become more emotionally aware, largely thanks to the introduction of mindfulness and meditation into my life, practices which have been of huge significance to me on many levels. My self-confidence has noticeably increased because I no longer carry around the burden of shame that I once did due to drinking too much, and embarrassing myself while under the influence. I am a much better mother to my two daughters, and a nicer, more considerate partner.

I never expected these mental health benefits to emerge out of a commitment to living alcohol-free. In fact, when I first set out as a new non-drinker back in 2011, I was dreading what I imagined would be a horribly boring, sober existence.

We live in a society that not only accepts heavy drinking but also often blatantly encourages and approves of it, and therefore it can feel alien to embark upon an alcohol-free lifestyle. But there are increasing numbers of people turning their backs on their boozy ways and choosing instead to spend their time engaged in other, healthier activities.

About a year and a half after I stopped drinking, I founded Soberistas.com, a social network website with thousands of members worldwide who have all committed, or who are striving to commit, to an alcohol-free life. This community is comprised of people who have grown to realise that life can pass by in a blur when alcohol becomes too much of a feature in it, and they want to hang on to quality memories instead of drinking away all their free time.

Although the initial period of adjusting to life as a teetotaler can be challenging, the people who belong to Soberistas have recognised, as I have, that there is a quality and deep sense of contentment to be found in living free from the shackles of habitual drinking. It’s a goal worth fighting for, and one that I am truly grateful for having achieved.