How Being Sober Healed My Anxiety
A few weeks ago I woke up to a seriously bad hangover. Not just the normal headache and lethargic type of sickness. I mean the stay in bed all day, still wake up feeling hungover the next day, type of hangover.
Maybe it's just that I'm 31 now and my body can't handle alcohol the way that it used to, or maybe I'm just very sensitive. Either way, on top of feeling physically ill, my anxiety was through the roof.
I worried about decisions I made in the past, contemplated the potential negative outcomes of my future, and mulled over how I still haven't learned when to call it quits.
You're in your thirties now, you'd think you'd learn when enough's enough.
Great Danielle. Another two days with no work getting done.
Why do you do this to yourself? What's wrong with you?
I can be so nice to myself in these moments, can't I? I really know how to lift myself up when I'm at an all time low!
I'm sure you can relate. We've all been there before. We drink too much, regret it the next day and swear we'll never do it again. Inevitably, we do though, and the cycle continues swirling forward, forever fulfilling its destiny of orbiting our decision making.
I always flirted with the idea of quitting drinking for a month. I had friends who tried it and said they never felt better. I admired their dedication and motivation to not only fulfill the month long detox, but extend it because of how amazing they felt.
I tried it a few times and made it a week, if not slightly more. I'd always pride myself on those few extra days past the seven day mark - I didn't drink for 9 days! Yay!
It's not that I drink heavily all of the time - that's not the case at all. I enjoy having a glass of red wine when cooking and I love Frangelico neat with a double espresso for dessert when out to dinner. It's not excessive drinking that's my problem, despite the occasional slip up. It's that even after one or two drinks, I wake up the next day with gilded knots in my stomach - tangled so much so that meditation or working out won't subside it.
Three weeks ago I randomly decided that I'd stop drinking for a month, and the minute I said it aloud, I knew that I'd commit to it this time for good.
Another event that prompted me to do this detox was looking at my journals from the previous three years and seeing all of the goals that I'd written. I've wanted to publish a book and continue to grow Struck Inside Out for years now.
Every year I get a little closer to this, but with the added down time of 2020, I noticed just how much that single glass of red wine was hindering my creativity, productivity and ultimately my happiness in doing the work that I need to to fulfill my dreams.
Let me tell you what I've learned from this detox so far. I'm on day 26.
1) The anxiety that I used to think was part of my natural demeanor is literally gone. And when I say gone, I mean - poof! - out of thin air, disappeared from my life. I don't wake up with braided twists in my stomach anymore. I don't have an excuse to linger in bed before beginning work on my writing. I wake up feeling refreshed and invigorated for a new day.
I honestly never thought I'd feel this way. My moods are consistent and I have nothing to blame for feeling off, lazy, uninspired, or flat out negative. I haven't felt those emotions recently anyway.
2) I used to always say that I need eight hours of sleep every night, and although I still stick to that standard because I believe it's healthy for you to get that much rest, my body is naturally waking up after six or seven hours of sleep. I was the queen of hitting snooze once or twice before getting out of bed. I now have an internal clock that wakes me up an hour or two before my alarm. I wake up rested with no need to sleep longer. I wake up genuinely excited to begin working toward my dreams.
3) I don't doubt myself and my judgments as often as I used to. Most times when I was contemplating something bothersome or seeking advice from others on a specific subject, I'd look externally before searching within. Even if I did meditate or journal on my dilemma, I still needed validation from others to support my own convictions. Now, I trust my voice. What used to feel like two warring voices is now a single, trusted and intuitive guidance that's with me 24/7.
4) I've realized many falsities about my perception of myself. I don't need alcohol to have fun on the weekends. I don't need alcohol to connect with certain people. I don't need alcohol to be "fun." I don't need alcohol to enhance any experience. I don't need alcohol to alter my judgements and then regret decisions I made under the influence. I don't need alcohol.
5) I've been born into a new world. A new me. I see things so clearly now, and I almost can't imagine returning to how I was before. I don't want to give up this vision. I don't want to feel detached from my dreams again. I feel like my success is just within arm's reach. I'm so close to achieving my desires. I believe in myself and my potential every single day.
This is the biggest gift of all.
If you haven't tried this yet, I highly encourage that you do! It's amazing what you learn about yourself when you don't have anything altering your judgment. It's revolutionary to see what you can accomplish on a daily basis and how you can consistently feel good without toxins flooding your system.
If you do give this a shot, please let me know what you've learned! I'd love to see what discoveries you encounter on your own journey.