Note: This is a guest post from Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.
If you are trying to simplify your life, you might start with decluttering and paying off debt, or reducing busyness and discovering how you want to spend your time. Those are the things I focused on in the beginning too.
As I removed things that didn’t add value to my life, I found more opportunity to notice other things that didn’t add value to my life.
I want to remove the things that remove me from my life. So in January, I decided to stop drinking alcohol for a while. You can read the whole story here.
7 Things I Noticed When I Stopped Drinking
1. I sleep better without alcohol.
I never really believed that drinking helped me sleep better even though those rumors were out there, but I didn’t realize how little it took to disrupt my sleep. Even just one glass of wine (ok two, I rarely had just one) would interrupt my sleep.
2. I drank more in social situations because I felt uncomfortable.
As an introvert, attending conferences, parties, and other events made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not shy, but I’m not very outgoing or comfortable in big groups. Drinking helped me to be more extroverted, but that’s not who I am.
I remember feeling relieved at a friend’s wedding a few years ago when they weren’t serving alcohol. I know if they had, I would have indulged to feel more comfortable, been overly social, exchanged phone numbers with people, made plans and then would have woken up regretting those decisions.
3. When I was drinking, I was ignoring my core values which made me feel sad and guilty.
My core values include honesty and authenticity. It’s been important to me over the last decade to connect with my heart, become the real me, and trust myself.
When I was drinking, I could feel the real me slipping away after a few sips. I’d become more outgoing and eventually I’d think or say things that I would never think or say sober. The next day I’d feel bad about what I may have said, not to mention the hangover I was nursing.
P.S. The older I got, the harder the hangover.
4. Other people’s stories inspired me to examine my relationship with alcohol.
Long before I stopped drinking, I read memoirs about people who stopped drinking. Some lost everything before they realized alcohol was the problem and some had less dramatic journeys (like mine). Even though there were differences, there were similarities too.
And because people I admire like Brené Brown, Gretchen Rubin and my sister shared their stories about giving up alcohol for different reasons, I considered it for myself. Sharing our stories; what we know and what we’ve learned helps us and others.
5. People’s reaction to my not drinking says nothing about me.
When people hear I’m not drinking, they are mostly supportive and either curious or defensive. The reactions range from letting me know they’ve questioned their drinking to defending their relationship with alcohol. See the comments here for example.
If you feel defensive, know that I’m not sharing my story because I question your drinking. I’m sharing it because I questioned mine.
While no one has specifically confronted me about why I quit, I can imagine that they may be wondering if I had a problem with alcohol. I did. It wasn’t the hit rock bottom kind of problem but alcohol became a problem for me, one I didn’t want to deal with anymore. What people are thinking isn’t usually based on my relationship with alcohol though, but theirs. It’s just how we work.
6. Maybe it doesn’t matter what you call it.
The reason I didn’t stop drinking ten years ago is because I thought, “If I don’t have a problem, I can keep drinking. If I’m not an alcoholic, I’m good.”
I’d take the quizzes and seem to be in the clear. I’d compare my drinking to people I knew who I thought did have a problem, and my drinking looked ok.
But maybe I was asking the wrong question. Maybe instead of comparing my drinking and asking, “Am I an alcoholic?” I should have been asking, “Is alcohol adding value to my life?” or “Does alcohol make me the best version of me?”
7. Life is simpler without alcohol.
The similarities between simplicity and sobriety are fascinating. Both lead to less decision fatigue, better health, less spending, and deeper connections.
I noticed these things and other benefits listed here about 100 days after I stopped drinking. That’s when I decided to quit for good. I didn’t intend to stop drinking permanently but I could not ignore the benefits. I can’t dismiss how well I sleep, how good I feel, and how much more free and more me I am without alcohol. And the goodness of life without alcohol continues to reveal itself.
Am I an alcoholic? I don’t think so but it doesn’t really matter to me. I didn’t need that label to stop, to realize that alcohol did not add value or goodness to my life. Alcohol removed me from my life and I removed alcohol so I can show up for my life.
Courtney Carver writes about living and dressing with less at Be More With Less. You can also connect with her on Instagram. Registration for Courtney’s online course, Soulful Simplicity, is currently open.
I really enjoyed this. This post has been up for a while and people just keep sharing inspiring stories. The struggle is real. Last night I felt such a battle for my sobriety. I drank too much too fast like usual and nothing was accomplished today. I’m getting old. Drinking is getting old. Bars aren’t even vibeing with me anymore. I just want to be home with my kids. I cant imagine being an introvert alone. I love people who hate drinking. They love me sober more. That should be enough. I love myself more when I’m sober too.
Rhoda Simkins says
I know exactly how you feel. So you have to read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. I did and I haven’t drank or even wanted to drink in over 2 weeks. I know that doesn’t sound like a long time. But the fact that I don’t even want to drink is huge for me. I really like myself now and feel so much better. Please read this book. I think it will change your life.
I remember reading this post in 2019 and thinking, hmm, I kind of agree but it’s a personal choice and I love wine. In the past 3 years, we’ve learned so much about how alcohol is bad for us, even in moderation, even wine, even when we love it. I had to face facts and force myself to stop drinking to preserve my health. Thanks, Courtney, for broaching the topic then, and now.
What a fantastic article! Thank you so much for sharing as it really hits home with me. I’m on day 64 of no alcohol and feel so great!
Thank you for your directness and honesty. I had Covid a month ago, lost taste and smell for several of those weeks following the Covid. I decided the alcohol would no longer be good during my illness, since I could not taste that $$$ bottle of wine, or Manhattan, or, or, or…….This made me stop and take a look at my consumption of alcohol. I live with a sober husband of almost 27 years, next month. We’d talk and he would say that he didn’t think I had issues with it, but my body/mind/spirit had another story! Today is day 33 with no alcohol, and I am sleeping much better, my face doesn’t look as stressed out, my clothes are fitting better, and my mood has greatly improved. I no longer worry about if there were an emergency and I had to drive somewhere, would I be ok to drive. A few of my friends are distancing right now, and I think it was an eye opener for them, as I’m usually where the parties happen, and perhaps they are uncomfortable with the whole idea of not drinking. Since I can only speak for myself, I am happy with my decision to stop. I’ve replaced my evening alcohol with teas, sparkling waters with a lime or lemon, or good old water! It is working well for me and I plan to continue down an alcohol free path, one day at a time.❤️
wobugabe stephens says
Growing up in a family where drinking was acceptable might have been the major reason why i became a pretty heavy drinker at only age 19, but at 21, i realized that my future self was going to suffer a great deal if i did not opt for a sober lifestyle. I’m happy that I’ve made the decision to quit, and a sober personality if a super fun one.
The next day brain fog or whiskey headaches stop me from consuming any alcohol although I agree that being in social places there is sometimes a pressure or more likely a habituancy that goes on. Some of my friends are quite responsible and react to this by saying they are either have a medical problem and have to drive home. Just a new way to be with guests and be happy
Jennifer Wallington says
Really good article
I don’t drink any alcohol
I am also pretty minimalist by most people’s standards
I used to enjoy the odd glass of wine with a meal then I had children
My older son was ill in the night as a baby with breathing difficulties and I took him to hospital where he required a nebuliser
I have never drunk again, I don’t want to be under the influence and not wake up to a sick child or need to drive to hospital
I do also love being physically fit and run most mornings and I like to be feeling as bright and breezy as possible first thing (I’m getting older too)!
Shirley Henderson Colee says
I had a similar experience. Anything that would impair my ability to take care of a loved one has to be eliminated.
Rains Bautista says
I agree with #7. I used to drink a lot, but one day I just got tired of the unpleasant feelings—mostly guilt—that I experience after a night of heavy drinking. I thought “Do I really enjoy going through that rollercoaster of emotions everyday? Am I gonna be like this forever?”
Sure, I miss the conversations I had with people around buckets and bottles of booze, but that routine felt really old now.
Thank you for sharing. I can relate 100% Love your questions, “Is alcohol adding value to my life?” and “Does alcohol make me the best version of me?”
Cathy Bradley says
This article came at the perfect time in my life. Mid 30’s with two young kids. I’ve been socially drinking since my twenties but at some point I started drinking every day (or almost) by myself . I used to never get hangovers, then lately they’ve been bad and I’m taking Tylenol three times a week for a headache. I spend much time in my head pondering when will be a good time to go to the store to restock and if I have enough to get by. I use the excuses “kids were tough today” “today was stressful” but I can’t ever just have one. I stay up late and don’t remember late night conversations with my husband. Yesterday I ordered the book she recommended put away my last two bottles of wine and took down the wine rack so it’s not staring me in the face. My husband doesn’t fully support me “how many time have you said this?” Land three days later”. Well I’m not putting a time limit on it, I’m just doing it. For me and my kids and our future. I work so hard to eat right and exercise just to ruin it at night with wine and snacks. I’ve taken up running and yoga, there are better ways to de stress after a day than drink. Thank you I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me.
Michelle O. says
Check out the Sober Sisters group on Facebook. The November group challenge starts today! Most of us are there with very similar stories. :)
Gwen Stackler says
This was a brave and courageous post that has everything to do with minimalism and being more healthy and I highly recommend clicking the first link to see how well she covered all of the bases.
As for me, when hit a building, don’t remember it, go on a wee break because that’s scary man. (just wait, it gets better.)
You learn that you may go to jail for hitting that building you don’t even remember, by the way, the building was fine it had those car destroying cement things out front, so you weren’t the first in your college town.
You go cold turkey, which seems fine until your “friends” and even your best bud roomie tell you, you’re no fun anymore. Then these guys that look like the Men in Black (it was the era of that or the Xfiles.) are following you and when you turn back, the jump in the hedges, How after not really seeing them, I still know they were akin to the Men in Black? No Idea, work with me here.
I called mom for help because it was all too much and above my paygrade. To top that off, when we got me moved, found a rehab and that fun stuff, I walked in my on my first day and some yahoo decided to put a chair through the glass of the group therapy room as I’m about to walk in and be introduced.
I stayed sober for a while, there were two problems, okay three, I don’t believe in 12 step groups, possibly because of my youth, they missed the real issues, like that alcoholism, was only a symptom, and the third makes me sound cocky, but many if not most were hitting on me, which is called 13th stepping for those that don’t know. I’m not stupid and loved the attention, even if it was damaging me, keeping me from paying attention, and making zero female friends.
Anyway, I was sober for a long while, by the skin of my teeth sometimes which was great but OMG there were reasons that I wanted to forget by drinking and they jumped out even if I still didn’t understand how to ask for help or even put it into words.
Eventually, the drinking stopped but the past caught up and left me breathless, still does. it’s been over 14 years and no hitting buildings and I remember everything, which can be a curse, just as much as a gift.
Minimalism-wise, I don’t have openers or special glasses and it just isn’t a factor on Friday nights or whenever I go out. And the money saved? don’t even start.
It was everything and know it’s forgettable, except for the humor. I’m finally me and not obsessed with the next party or batting lashes just right when I’m broke. I also wish that my dad would stop, yet I just cheer when he cuts back, get ready for call after call when he’s wasted and let it go, it has to come from him.
Courtney rocked this here and even more on her the fuller version on her own blog. Thank you, Courtney
There are times that you don’t need to do something or cut something out of your life and hopefully, if you pick the right things, your life in enhanced and we all come closer to our goals.
Rita Newman says
Drinking is like overeating, no one will stop you, but you! No matter how much they say they love you, you have to take control of it yourself; otherwise you let yourself down. And you are a blessing to someone every day…Tks for sharing! Becoming a minimalist, is taking care of me, inside & out.
Ann Hendershot says
I love this article. I, too, don’t have a problem with alcohol but choose not to drink because I don’t like the feeling I get even after one where I feel it starts taking me away from reality. Also, you can’t help but ignore what it does to your body inside and how you feel when you wake up. Some of the adverse affects for me were sinus congestion, headache, tiredness, grumpiness, all of which I do not have if I don’t drink. For me, it’s a no brainer, I definitely am a better person w/o it. Thanks for posting this great article.
I feel that this is a very individual story some may relate but most people may actually enjoy a really good glass of wine after a hard day, toddler tantrums or a tragedy. I for example study and love wines and have a special relationship to alcohol. I still do sleep very well, enjoy social situations, occasions.
I find it’s not minimalistic to remove alc I think it’s a very profound question of life, personality and health. There are more aspects to it than determining if it’s useful in each one’s life. I find sometimes minimalism tries to radically remove aspects of our life, when there wasnt an issue with it and some positive effects. My minimalism journey is different, but that is the part where everyone evaluates this for their life. So far, Im however glad to have come in touch with minimalism.
I’m sure this wasn’t your intention but I felt your response came across quite defensive.
I think the author did a good job writing this in a way that wasn’t pushy or implying that everyone should stop drinking to better their lives or be more minimalistic. If wine enriches your life (which it sounds like it does), that’s wonderful.
This is a great article. I can relate to the introvert part and alcohol making you more vocal than you want to be at parties. Good for you on making this choice for yourself.
Kim Ferguson says
I love this article and thread! Would love to know of sober Facebook groups for people that aren’t problem drinkers but gave it up for other reasons!
Hi Kim, you might want to check out Jolene Park (Healthy Discoveries) she has a great Ted Talk about what she calls ‘grey area drinking’. She talks about other ways to manage our nervous systems besides alcohol. It helped me a lot because it wasn’t about being ‘an alcoholic’. I just celebrated one year of being alcohol free today!
Lois Reynolds says
Congrats on taking the time to examine and know yourself…so many of us don’t want to see the reality….I have taken the time and do not drink anymore…I had a big problem with alcohol and now it gone…whoopee….best days of my life since before the day I took away the real me by using alcohol to enhance my “personality”…I notice lots of the comments on here were from people who really did not have an alcohol problem…..and could speak with pride about their lives….not so for those of us who have had a problem…shame and guilt usually keep a person from admitting the problem until they face themselves and reality and get sober truly…..I fortunately have lived through my bad choices which is a miracle in itself and I am a grateful sober person at this time….I loved everything you learned and taught us about how alcohol can take away the joys and light of life….thanks again for sharing your heart and soul….
I couldn’t agree more. This article along with the one about why she quit drinking came at the exact time I needed it. Recently I’ve been examining my relationship with alcohol and every other day tell myself that I need to stop drinking and feeling like crap and then every other day I tell myself it’s okay because I don’t have a problem. Why can I make good life choices about everything else but end up drinking at night? And spend all day thinking about how I’m going to get to the store and restock. Her thoughts are so open and honest and I felt like I was reading my own mind and seeing my own experiences. To actually know that somebody else dealt with the exact “issues” I currently am made a big impact. I ordered the book she discussed in the other article and took down my wine rack. The last two bottles I put up in a cabinet so I know they are there but aren’t in plain sight. I feel like I am defined by my drinking and nobody believes me when I say I’m not gonna anymore, even y husband “oh I’ve o my heard that a million times for it to last two days” “or until we go out again”. I’m not putting a time on it this time, I’m just doing like when I decided to go vegan. Hopefully I can make this stick.
Linda Sand says
Congratulations! I am proud of you!
Last year my husband and I tried to reconcile after a difficult split. He has been a heavier drinker in more recent years. I found that I was drinking more than I ever had in order to try to have a good time and bond with him. I also noticed that I would drink so he wouldn’t because it kept him from drinking the hard stuff. I missed out on so much. We split permanently in January and I pretty much stopped drinking. I might have ONE beer on occasion now. I go out but don’t drink when I’m out since I’m single. It was very enlightening to look at the drinking. I wasn’t an alcoholic according to the definition. But it definitely wasn’t a healthy relationship. I’ve lost weight too since I stopped drinking and feel so much better. Feel so much better about myself too. What a great way to start my single life at 50!
Peggy Thiele says
I quit 10 yrs. ago, started dabbling in it again and finally realized that alcohol is a waist of money! Nobody is a good drinker.. Without drinking.. I can drive anywhere anytime, stay up late, read a book when I want, FREEDOM….to do anything at anytime! Hangovers are such a waist of a day! uck, no thank you!
Heath Melrose says
I might be in the minority of commenters on here since I drink wine. I have had my highs and lows on the journey, including a couple of days last year I’d like to do again. I also do the Daniel Fast 2-3 times a year and cut it out altogether for periods of time. But I recently moved to a new country without my friends and acquaintances and comfort zones, and I am certainly drinking less here and reflecting more on all the “why” parts. My wife rarely drinks, and here it is just the two of us getting settled in new city, jobs, language, everything. Spending quality time here alone with her has been amazing, whether wine is opened or not.
I don’t drink and never really have other than a few times in my life. When I was a teen, my mom spent every day in bars and came home drunk every evening. I thought people who spent their days in bars were some of the most pathetic people I’d ever met and felt nothing but pity for them. As a result, I never developed a taste for alcohol and avoided drinking. My husband will sometimes have a beer and my adult children make and drink beer and wine, but I still don’t have any desire to join them. It makes me sad that so many women make their social lives a big deal about all the wine and beer they drink. I really don’t think I’m missing out on anything.
Pat h says
Basically I agree with all these observations. When I was about 28 ;( now retired), the church I went to asked people in certain childrens ministries to sign a pledge as to set an example. I kept to it . One friend when pressured to drink asked how many drinks to be under the influence. Answer might have been 4 and she replied she didnt want to be 25% under the influence. It didnt affect my career very much but recently at a completely different denomination drinking occurred at all social occasions and made me feel uncomfortable. I saved a lot of money and heart ache over the years.
Thank you. Inspiration for all.
I love this too. I have been playing with the idea of not drinking alcohol anymore as well. There is alcoholism in my family and I see the destruction it does to families. I want to be a positive role model in this area. I’m looking forward to the many benefits! Thank you for sharing.
I saw the advertising for “One year no beer”, or something similar, on Facebook, and thinking I was drinking too much, I said I should try this, but on my own, without any program, go cold turkey. It’s been half a year minus 4 days without alcohol, am half way through, not drinking every day wasn’t very hard, but I also haven’t noticed any difference, physically, mentally and socially. People cheer me up, most of them telling me that they couldn’t do this. In the beginning I was sleeping better, but now I am at the same level like before (measured via Fitbit). Before stopping I was drinking about 6 half-a-liter beers per evening, way above the the accepted limit, my liver and my stomach have definitely seen the difference, but the medical tests I did do not show a very big improvement (am 36 years old). Will continue with this for the next 6 months, am curious how drinking again will feel like, maybe I will stop for good if I do not see any difference between drinking and not drinking, it will be worth doing it in the long run.
Shirley Henderson Colee says
Sometimes people can do the ‘water wagon’ indefinitely. But when they return to drinking, they will overdrink. It’s toxic to your body except the ears.
This post came at an interesting time. I very rarely drink alcohol. I hate that feeling of not being in control of myself. But I will once in a while have a glass of wine.
Last night I had a glass and stayed up until midnight. At 7:00 am when my son decided he wanted breakfast and cartoons, it felt like I was trying to raise the dead to get me on it feet. That feeling is horrible.
So I’ve decided to toss the rest of the wine bottle and forgo drinking.
It’s just not worth it for me anymore.
Lois Reynolds says
glad you tossed it….don’t pick it back up….it doesn’t get better …it gets worse with time….
I am the mother to 2 kids (siblings) adopted out of E Europe both of whom were profoundly negatively affected by their bio mothers alcohol abuse. At least one of these kids exhibits many symptoms of Fetal Alcohol exposure. Once these kids became a permanent part of our family I remember very clearly thinking that I would no longer drink (not a big drinker anyway). I had such a strong conviction that I needed to be an example of another kind of mother, one who didn’t drink.
Laurel Bishop says
I agree in every aspect. Thank you for sharing.
Michelle Cady says
Excellent article. Alcohol does not help me live my best life yet. You’ll find me drinking club soda at business cocktail hours and loving it! Yes, I’m weird but comfortable in my own skin.
Written so well! My sister and her husband stopped drinking years ago when he had a problem. One of her friends insists that my sister should still drink, since she didn’t have a problem and she was ‘more fun’ when she drank. It seems sad that people (in their 40’s!) can’t accept other peoples decisions and try to apply peer pressure (“Just have one. He’s not with us tonight.”).
My father was a big drinker and it had a major effect on our entire family. I remember as a child thinking I would never allow myself to overindulge when I was old enough to drink alcohol. It turns out I never did but when I had a glass of wine or beer I realized there were side effects as you said. I made the decision several years ago to just give up alcohol. I don’t stand in judgement of people who do but I’m surprised that I still hear older adults boasting about their intake. I thought that ended in one’s 20’s. I enjoy your blog. Thank you Courtney.
Excellent article. A couple of years ago, my new year’s resolution was to stop drinking for 6 months, which I did. What is sad though is I was out with a friend during that time. We went for drinks where I told her I was on a sabbatical from drinking for 6 months. First thing she said is, “well, I would never do that because I don’t have a drinking problem”. I never said I had one, and was somewhat insulted by her comment. I just reiterated it was my choice and did say it had nothing to do with thinking I had a drinking problem. Her “I don’t have a drinking problem” statement comes from a person who has 3-4 beers and adds a shot of vodka to each of those beers. Interesting the comments friends will make, it made me re-evaluate my friendship with her.
I love your article. I’m one of those folks who did have a problem with alcohol and anything like it. I quit 35-1/2 years ago. I get the same benefits you listed, plus more. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to quit drinking! Good on you!!