Get A Christmas Action Plan Together!

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I know it’s only November but I’ve already had several emails from people worrying about those dreaded festivities lying just around the corner. Time does have a terrible habit of running away with itself so I know it’ll feel like Christmas is upon us in just a matter of minutes.

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In anticipation of the worrying I know lots of people will be doing in the coming weeks, here’s my guide to making the festive season a lovely experience that will definitely NOT derail your alcohol-free intentions…

  1. If you convince yourself that alcohol doth make Christmas special and magical, I guarantee you’ll spend the whole of the holidays feeling like you’re missing out. Booze is not a good thing when you can’t moderate the amount you drink. It makes you argue with people, fall asleep on the settee drooling, make an arse of yourself at the work Xmas do, have the hangover from hell on Christmas morning (making present opening and cooking dinner truly horrendous experiences that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy), and adds countless calories to your already wildly-exaggerated daily intake. So remember – you’re not missing out on anything by not drinking!
  2. Get organised with the whole festive shebang – and make the organising a thing to enjoy! I’m never one to pass up any opportunity to write lists and plan stuff so perhaps I’m slightly biased with this one, but hear me out. If you aren’t organised, things become super stressful, right? And when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to want a drink. So it makes sense to start shopping early, work out your budget, write Christmas card and pressie lists, and put together a theme for your decorations and tree. The earlier you start with this, the better you will feel. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping you busy when otherwise you might be thinking about booze.
  3. Buy a nice outfit. Have your hair done. Get a new lipstick. Focus a bit of energy and thought into looking and feeling glamorous during the Crimbo period. You’ll feel amazing, get loads of compliments (thus boosting your self-esteem and confidence), and it’ll help get you into the celebration mood.
  4. Spend a couple of hours before the holidays start making and testing out some mocktails. Make sure you have all the ingredients in ready for Christmas, and enjoy drinking your special creation on the day. Nothing will make you feel flatter than drinking water with your Crimbo dinner.
  5. Be creative. When I drank, I never really did much creative but when I stopped, I found that I LOVED making things. Whether it’s baking or conjuring up some homemade Christmas decorations with the kids, being creative is a brilliant way of staying mindful and not letting your brain run away with anxieties and worrying about booze and how you’ll manage to stay sober.
  6. Look after yourself REALLY well. Get as much sleep as you can, eat as healthily as you can, get lots of exercise, meditate, and spend time alone rejuvenating and winding down. This could be in the bath with candles and some luxury smellies, going for a run or listening to music, wrapping up and going on a gorgeous country walk, or whatever else takes your fancy. Just make sure you take care of YOU this Christmas. Because when YOU are in tiptop condition, everything else becomes so much easier to manage. I’m also a fan of buying yourself a few presents alongside those you’re choosing for loved ones…
  7. Last one – remember what Christmas is. And what it is not. It’s a holiday, lovely downtime for spending quality time with family and friends (this is my definition because I’m not religious, but if you are a Christian then it’s all about celebrating that – either way, it ain’t about booze). In the run up to Christmas, focus your thinking, whenever you get a quiet moment, on what Christmas means to you – really zoom in on what you want it to be, for you and those around you. Give it a new meaning, whatever works best for you.

When you apply all of the above, it should be entirely possible to start making new, much happier festive memories! Wishing you a very happy time this Christmas. Lucy xx

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2015 – The Year of the Soberista

I think we live in a topsy-turvy world, where it is seen as more normal to want to drink yourself into oblivion than it is to lead a healthy, alcohol-free life in which you are in control of your body and mind. On a daily basis, we are surrounded by messages of endorsement for a seriously mind-altering substance – one that is responsible for the deaths of 3.3 million people worldwide every year. We are bombarded by a collective validation for this addictive drug, the consumption of which is a causal factor in more than two hundred disease and injury conditions.

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And bizarrely, we often find that when we choose to opt out of the merry-go-round of alcohol misuse, we are considered to be boring, ill or someone to pity. It is not always the case, of course, but there exists a great deal of stigma and hypocrisy when it comes to the way people in the West approach the issue of drinking and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, sobriety.

Until I ended up in hospital because of the amount of booze I consumed one night in April 2011, I lived a life that I would describe as one of a binge drinker. On many occasions I despised myself because of something I had said or done when under the influence; there were too many times when I lay alone in the dark considering suicide as a result of the depressive effects of alcohol. But I never regarded myself as someone to feel sorry for – I wasn’t a victim. I was simply unaware that my life would be vastly improved if I omitted alcohol from it. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees – there was no clarity, no understanding that I was, in reality, creating all of the problems in my life because I got drunk so frequently.

I firmly believe in an alcohol-free life now. It’s a way of being that has brought me nothing but positives, and one that has simultaneously eradicated much of the crap that dragged me down so relentlessly for years. I remember a boy at my secondary school who used to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Drinking won’t solve my problems. But it will give me lots of interesting new ones’. Oh the wit! That carefree and innocent perspective of this substance that most people share in their teens was one that I most definitely held – although one that very gradually became replaced with a great deal of wariness and, eventually, fear.

Many people will remain forever in denial that they actually have a problem with alcohol. For every regret-filled morning when with head throbbing, promises will be made to never drink again, there will be an untold number of nights of throwing caution to the wind and an abject refusal to accept that it is not really ok to be drinking to the point of blacking out. And on and on the negative cycle will turn, never to be broken.

But equally, many people are, I believe, now beginning to question this alcohol-fuelled existence as normal. They are pondering whether life without hangovers and booze-induced problems in their relationships and at work might be better, easier. I believe there is a wave building, a revolt against the mass acceptance we have all grown up with, of binge drinking and its place in society as an inherent element of everyday life.

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Christmas and New Year’s Eve are times of the year when alcohol features even more prominently than usual – it can feel isolating and challenging to be a non-drinker in the midst of such widespread festive applause for booze. But there are far more people than many would imagine who are happily getting on with things minus any alcohol, and who aren’t missing it that much, if at all. I am one of those people. I couldn’t be happier than right now, free from the shackles that held me prisoner for so long and which turned me into someone I wasn’t – a loud, overbearing and self-centred person with a shallow existence and a multitude of regrets keeping me awake at night.

The more people who continue to turn their backs on booze, the more normal the teetotaller will become. I hope that in 2015 we will witness a big increase in the number of non-drinkers proudly emerging, and that as an expanding group in society we can make the case heard even louder for a life that’s lived in control, healthily and happily.

Happy New Year! Lucy x