Back in June 2017, I finished my bachelor’s degree in economics here in Denmark. As any former and current students know, finishing an education causes for celebration. One step closer to the exciting, adult, 9–5 life (yay!).
Although I went straight into my masters after the summer break, my fellew students and I managed to celebrate for almost a week I believe. This involved a substantial amount of alcohol. Something I was pretty good at handling at the time.
But the following weeks marked a big turning point for my relationship with alcohol. You’ll learn why in a moment.
Why Do A Full Year Without Any Alcohol?
Something I get asked pretty much every time a new person in my social circle finds out that I don’t drink at the moment, is “Why not?” and “Not even a little bit?”.
Back in June, I was in a difficult situation; I wanted to go to parties, work out 5–6 times a week and spend time with my girlfriend and friends. What I quickly realised was that I couldn’t manage all of these things at once. At least not at a healthy and sustainable level.
Whenever I got back from a workout I felt great, but as soon as I went out for drinks, the next 3 days were ruined. I never had the energy to exercise or do any sort of creative work. This meant I pretty much had to start all over every Wednesday the following week.
Eventually, I had enough and decided to fix my priorities. I knew that working out had a huge positive effect on my mental health and general well-being, so I made sure that was a priority.
I also knew that spending time with my girlfriend and friends made me happy, which is why they were of course also top priorities.
Ultimately this meant that it was all the parties, the drinks and the late nights that had to be cut out, in order for me to feel good the entire week and have the energy and motivation to work out.
Other than this, I also felt like taking a challenge, to see if it was even possible to maintain social relationships without drinking. Sounds crazy but I know a handful of people who primarily drinks due to FOMO.
How I Got Started
To be honest, at first, I actually just kept to myself that I wasn’t going to drink for a year. Maybe because it was easy to go back on if no one knew. Maybe because telling people what you want to do, dramatically lowers the probability that you’ll actually do it.
What An Entire Year Without Alcohol Taught Me
As of July 2018, I finished the full year without any alcohol. Looking back at this, there are a few key takeaways that I think other people could benefit from reading, even if they’re not planning on taking any break from alcohol.
No one is more enjoyable drunk compared to sober
Think about that for a moment and see if you agree…
Many have probably never realised this, but very few (if any) people become more enjoyable to be around when they’re drunk.
Of course, if everyone is equally drunk, they feel great because drinking makes people let go of their constraints.
This is great when meeting new people, but if you have to be drunk to let go of your constraints among friends, your friendship needs fixing.
Not Every Party Needs Your Presence
Something I quickly realised was that very few parties were actually fun to participate in sober. Those who I enjoyed weren’t focused around drinking but merely around some sort of activity, like a barbecue, a bonfire or a sporty activity of some sort.
Jon Olsson explains this very well in his video about not drinking alcohol saying that “A bad party for the drunk is going to be a very boring party for the sober” which I completely agree with.
In addition, a lot of the things that happen at nightclubs and parties after the majority have left, aren’t really exciting things. Sure, someone might have passed out or hooked up with someone, but is that really something worth staying out until 4 to witness?
My “Mood Variance” Decreased
In a time where mental health and things like anxiety is causing a lot of young people to crash and burn, I thought it was worth mentioning how I feel alcohol has affected my mood.
Whenever you drink, you feel “happy”. Exciting things happen and you’re having fun with your friends. But eventually, you will face a point where you’re left alone with your hangover, not feeling very well.
I used to have these highs and lows, where a party would throw my mood in the air and the following day, just the opposite.
Now I feel like these mood swings are quite rare. My highs and lows are closer to each other, which to me feels more “real”.
Staying In Shape Is A Lot Easier
Back when I still drank alcohol, I had a period of around 6 months where I didn’t work out or do any sort of regular physical activity.
Because of that, I lost a lot of muscle mass and gained quite an amount of body fat. A feeling that I definitely didn’t like and wanted to change immediately.
So if you compare that time to now, staying in shape is so much easier. It takes a lot less time to get back in a good rhythm and the feeling after a workout is so satisfying.
The Math Simply Doesn’t Add Up
All in all, right now I just don’t think it’s worth drinking. I’m in no way religious about alcohol and I don’t mind at all being around people who drink.
But for me, to achieve my goals in terms of health and career, there’s more important things out there than alcohol.
And sure, someday I’ll probably enjoy a glass of whiskey or a G&T (like I used to do a lot), but for now, I’m good without it.
I know this is a very sensitive topic, so I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments. Have you ever considered taking a break? What stopped you? Do you feel like drinking is completely fine?
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. If so, feel free to give it a clap (up to 50 of them) to help others find it 👏