My unexpected joys of being sober

Laurie McAllister | April 2019 | 6 minutes

Sober Spring week six: When Laurie McAllister went dry she expected to do her body some good - but there were a lot of unexpected benefits too.

A few years ago, I was drinking a lot. I was out most nights - with a hangover to match the next morning. With every drink, I felt like I was getting further away from the life that I wanted.

Now two years happily sober, I’ve discovered that sobriety has benefits that improve my life beyond no hangovers – which really is great – and better health.

Here are my unexpected joys of being sober:

1. I remember everything I did last night (and the night before that).

Gone are the days where I have to piece together a night out based on snippets of memory, credit card transactions, oyster card logs and whispering to friends “What happened?” Now I can tell you what I ate for dinner, what I drank & what we talked about. Game-changer.

2. More sleep.

A benefit of sobriety that’s often cited is better quality sleep, but an added joy for me has been getting way more sleep. I don’t stay out later than I planned and I’m almost always in bed before midnight. I wake up feeling refreshed and I love it.

3. Going out on a week-night and still being awesome at work the next day.

The morning-after-the-night-before hangovers have been replaced and I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even when I’ve met friends after work the previous day; no more hot sweaty meetings clutching a full-fat can of coke.

4. I always make the last train home

… and on that note, I never now miss trains, flights or coaches I’ve booked. The most expensive flight I’ve ever missed was in Paris. I’d been out drinking the night before and slept right through the boarding call. I was so hungover I didn’t even make the most of my extra day – I sat in the airport eating McDonalds. Never again!

5. Checking my bank account is no longer a traumatic event.

These days I enjoy managing my money and I am no longer petrified to look at my bank statements. I remember what I’ve spent my money on. Not buying rounds of shots for people I barely know is a great money-saver!

6. I plan meals for the week, and I actually eat them.

In my drinking days I’d plan all my meals and do a big supermarket shop, only to throw all the food away the following weekend after another week of un-planned eating out, grabbing chips on the way home and hungover Pret purchases at work. These days I eat the food I buy, I enjoy cooking it and I no longer experience the pangs of guilt when throwing away my good intentions.

7. My phone is no longer a fear-inducing device.

Drunken texts are a thing of the past. I used to delete entire conversations when I was drinking, since morning-after-me couldn’t bear to look at the messages I’d sent. Now I unlock my mobile with ease and the anxiety of reading messages from friends has dissipated.

8. I enjoy exercise.

My relationship with exercise has changed. I previously used it as a way to sweat out a hangover and to convince myself I was healthy – even if I was going to the gym & then meeting a friend for a mid-week bottle (or two) of wine. Now I exercise for me, for fun and it is so much more enjoyable.

9. I am honest about how much I drink, nothing!

Doctors’ appointments and health check-ups are no longer an exercise in deception. When I arrive at the 'How many units do you drink in a week?' box, I happily enter 0 units. Feels good.

10. My skin is clearer.

The angry red blotch I permanently had on my chest has disappeared. Stay gone!

11. I do what I say I’ll do.

I keep promises to myself and to the people around me. Cancelled breakfast dates and gym classes are a thing of the past. If I say I’m going to be there, I’m there. Both for myself, and everyone else.

  • Laurie McAllister is a yoga teacher, digital marketing expert and writer of alcohol-free lifestyle blog at girlandtonic.co.uk. She stopped drinking at 25, is two years sober and loves teetotal life.

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