Navigating the Unknown - The Simple Habits that kept me Alcohol Free

The following article has been written by our wonderful guest blogger, Linda Monahan, also known as the Habit Boss and the founder of Corporate to Calm. In this insightful post, Linda generously shares the habits that have enabled her to maintain a life free from alcohol. Enjoy! 

corporate to calm linda monahan

It's been almost two years since I've had an alcoholic drink. I still have pinch me moments that I even embarked on this journey but I did and I’m proud, I’m grateful. I wouldn’t say it’s an overly joyous, overly happy life I lead, yes I will elaborate. It can be mundane, uneventful and strangely enough that brings me huge amounts of joy & happiness. Let me tell you about my non

I hate the word sober but I also hate the word moist, it’s a personal preference…It’s Christmas Eve 2018, 9am and I’m in the hairdressers after an absolute banger of a night which I have vague & good memories of. Great banter with friends, it’s that time of year when everyone is popping out of the woodwork. It’s after 2am, I’m 39 and about to make a few really stupid decisions. First, I’ll go to the chipper by myself. I remember the chipper because I got so annoyed that they didn’t have what I wanted, bearing in mind I had been out for dinner too, so the chipper was very unnecessary. Was it the young girl's fault that there werent mushrooms for my mushroom curry chip box? Yes that’s a thing, thank you Henry & Rose for all your years of service to our wonderful town (I live in Bray, Co. Wicklow, garden of Ireland). I have NO/ZERO recollection of the taxi but sure that was nothing new. So many risks over the years but sure I was untouchable. Back to the hairdressers, I have a two year old and a four year old. It is Christmas Eve and I am absolutely hanging and texting the family what time are we meeting for drinks, with the kids, feck it it’s Christmas. New Year’s Eve 2018 was the first time I decided that I was going to stop drinking. It took me until the 11th of March 2022 from the 31st of December 2018 to follow through with that decision. 

Skip forward to January 2024 and today is day 685 without a drink & I’m thrilled. It only took 5 years to get here. There was a pandemic in between and so much life going on and the fear, the fear of actually doing it! I was in the contemplation stage for a long time and it was what was right for me, right for my journey

What have I learned?

I Can Do Anything

I loved alcohol. I loved everything about it. The promise of a good night. The release after a tough week. The sheer joy of a cork popping when celebrating the wins in life. Going out with friends. I would get so excited knowing there was a big night coming up. I always wanted to drink. I remember being so annoyed with my Dad at a 21st birthday party and he wouldn’t let me have a drink…I was 15 and he was 100% right. I always wanted to be in the thick of the fun. I never drank in fields. I was way too sophisticated. I was frequenting the local at 16. I never thought alcohol was a problem and I suppose at that time it probably wasn’t. I always thought you couldn’t have a good night unless you had a drink. If I can take alcohol out of my life, I can do anything I set my mind to.

I Was Afraid

The only reason I didn’t stop drinking alcohol in 2018 was fear. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was turning 40 in April 2019 and imagine not being able to have a drink at your 40th? I was afraid I would be judged, being labelled Fun Bobby, I don’t think Friends did any of us any favours. I was afraid I would miss out on something. I was afraid others wouldn’t like me sober, let’s face it you can’t control who likes you sober or drunk. It was easier to drink than not. Easier to go with the flow. One bottle of wine was turning into two, maybe even three.

Your Decision will not suit Everyone

They try to be supportive. I’ve had a lot of why’s? Or are you still doing that? One person told me I was going to ruin their night by not drinking. I didn’t label what I was doing. It’s really nobody’s business but mine. It was only after the first six months I was happy to talk about it and confident that I probably won’t have a drink again. Unfortunately, we are designed to think only about ourselves and not drinking alcohol simply shines a light on others' consumption and how it will affect them. That’s their problem. Honestly, I could care less if you drink, don’t drink. I am focused on me and absolutely not here to judge, so please give me the same consideration.

Writing Helps

journal open and a cup of tea

This is from a weekend in June 2022…

I am currently abroad with my family. I am creating the life I want and I am proud of what I am achieving. I love my children and I want them to be happy, they deserve everything. I have a successful podcast and a business that I know is going to change my life and I am feeling a bit guilty that I am focused on that as I have a deadline and I am not 100% focused on the family holiday. I am growing and on the brink of something huge and I know I am sub-consciously contemplating self-sabotage. I deserve the life I want. I am 104 days without alcohol and really struggling at the moment. I am proud of my 104 days and hope to reach 105.

I reached 105 and writing that paragraph really helped me at the time.

I Can Make & Keep Plans

I miss the divilment of a night out. I miss the high of the first few drinks. I don’t miss the hangover, I don’t miss the fear, I don’t miss the crippling anxiety. I love that I can make plans and know I’m not going to cancel, to turn up hungover, to have to stop the car while driving, open the door and puke, yes I was in my 20s but it happened. I now like my weekends for other reasons.

Habits that have helped me 

I took my time and created my own narrative

I told people I was doing a 50 day alcohol free challenge. In reality,  I was actually giving alcohol up indefinitely. Getting into the habit of spinning this narrative really helped me because I had an excuse ready for the first few harder weeks. It also helped others warm to the situation. I know we shouldn’t care what others think but not having my decisions questioned in the first 50 days was really helpful to me. One week, a month, 50 days a small goal can lead to a lifetime of success.

Non-Alcoholic drinks

Non-alcoholic beverages really helped me. For me, I didn’t just drink alcohol to get drunk, I love the taste of alcohol from cocktails, beer, stout, cider, wine, I relished all of them. I felt that I was still part of a ritual and sometimes if you have a glass in your hand people would just leave you alone and stop asking if you want a drink. I usually have 2-3 and then I’m done. My favourites are Guinness and Estrella beer, I’m still working on the wine. I have spoken to some who have found NAs extremely triggering so choose to avoid them. Everyone is different to listen to what suits your journey.

Not caring what people think 

This is huge, because they are going to have opinions and thoughts which are none of your business. All to do with them and nothing to do with you. However, if you  want to protect your space, creating a no alcohol time frame or pretending a sparkling water is a gin & tonic are tools to look after you on your journey.  Newsflash, there will be a loss of people, so letting go is an important part of the process. People will look at how your decision impacts them and you will get support from some and you will hear about nights that you weren’t invited to from others.  If you are considering giving up there is a huge sober community out there. Don’t get me wrong, your “real friends” will get you and your decision.

Self-care and Self-love

When I look back I realise I initially created my clients 5 habits protocol for me. 5 simple habits that will help change your life. I started to get up early and encourage everyone to set that alarm even 10 mins earlier and do something for them. I let go of so much with regards to thoughts, people, situations. I also gave myself a break, so many talk about the amount of weight they have lost with zero alcohol. I did not lose weight. I ate lots and lots of cake and have a belly which I’m a little proud of. I move with joy every single day, I encourage you to stop doing exercise that you hate. I am grateful, so grateful for the life changes I have made. This gratitude has helped me stay present and focused. Having a plan in place helped me stay on track and I suppose my 5 simple habits were my plan. The fifth habit is drinking water, which is very important but probably not as vital to my journey.

cup of tea and a book

A morning routine full of purpose

My morning routine has been hugely important to my sobriety journey. It is the space I have created for me every weekday morning. I used to get up around 7:45 and now I set my alarm for 5:45 and there is no snooze, I have worked hard at this, it definitely didn’t happen overnight. I created an extra two hours in my day, all for me. I’m at a class at 6:15 for my body, walking at 7:10 for my mind and having breakfast with my kids at 7:50, with lots of coffee for my soul. This sets me up for such a productive day. An extra two hours a weekday amounts to at least forty extra purpose led, guilt free hours a month. Everyone is at a different life stage so create time and space that works for you. I developed a digital morning habit tracker which tracks 12 habits for the body, mind and soul. It made a huge difference to my morning so maybe it can do the same for you, click here for free access

Remember, breaking a bad habit is a process, so be patient, persistent, and don't give up. If you are sober curious there are so many resources available. In my opinion, go straight to the apps and search there. Instagram and TikTok have a wealth of sobriety journeys. It’s your choice whether or not to stop drinking alcohol, there’s no judgement in your decision, there’s no shame in having a slip, asking for help and starting again. Finally, I want to stress that I wasn’t alcohol dependent, I was lucky and able to embark on this journey on my own. I know this is not the case for everyone so please pursue the right path for you. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my non-alcoholic journey. You can find me across most social media at The Habit Boss and and always be gentle on you and your decisions.

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