Alcohol free leisure activity – and why it’s important
If you think about it when you become alcohol free it can be a big change in your life. Many of the liver forums include people who have given up alcohol for a reason (do with their liver) say the one thing you must do is get a hobby. So an alcohol free leisure activity is key I have come to firmly believe.
As much as I wanted to disagree I kind of agree even more I talk to people here on the blog. Now there maybe many reasons you give up drinking alcohol including
- Lifestyle choice
- Religious beliefs
- Consumer choice
- You want to save money
In fact there are so many reasons, however be aware you are leaving the alcohol drinkers club. Some people will be very supportive, some curious and some will say you have a drink problem while actually wanting you to drink! Go figure that one.
At the end of the day, who cares, it’s your life and your choice.
In my case I did not have a choice, through social drinking, a range of being unwell and stress my liver started to fail and fail badly. Liver health is hardly talked about when compared to the heart and overall fitness but trust me when I say you only have one and it matters.
At the time of writing this I have been alcohol free for around 18 months and you know what I feel really well. No Sunday morning hangovers and my body is responding not having what is essentially poison pumped into you through your own habits and social circle.
However, we live in alcohol world socially. Activity is based around bars, restaurants, we have to deal with social pressure, having a few too many. Crikey even cinemas have a seat drink service now! So much for alcohol free leisure activity!
I notice the pressure I got now I am not drinking far exceeded the pressure I got not to drink. In fact, it was almost zero because my social circle and work colleagues generally liked a drink. When I lived in London we would also pride ourselves on the motto “who is out tonight then?”
So once you change your habits you need to be supportive to yourself and actually the change may not be as big as you might think. So here are a few things that really worked for me. A top 5 suggestion list if you like.
Not before you get all animated saying working hard at the gym doesn’t appeal don’t worry me as well. However, a walk, cycling or even the gym if that is your thing can be a life saver.
Here is why when you exercise your mood changes and it is pushed by science as well. Here is a great quote from a doctor who studies in this area and he ain’t just talking about body health either, he is talking our whole mental well-being:
“I often tell my patients that if we had the ability to put what exactly exercise does for us into a pill, it would be worth a million dollars,” says Dr. Cheng. “The irony is, of course, that exercise itself is actually free.”
So no matter what it is, I generally make sure I walk with music on my headphones and I might run if I feel like it. It changes my mood and it gives me time to think. Much of my time spent during the recent lock down was in my local park.
Every afternoon I would see a guy there who I think was in his seventies doing a short stroll every day. I said hello from a distance and he said thanks “you are the only person I see and talk to at the moment” For him exercise was just a thing he did but the benefits for him personally went far and wide. I felt quite honored.
Thomas J Leonard, one of the early master coaches, said to create a structure around exercise so if you hate it you have to do it and then you feel better. He talks about a task and then a have exercise as secondary outcome:
- Become a dog walker – you walk miles and don’t think about it
- Invite people around for dinner- you clean the house
- Go to the bathroom/toilet on the next floor – you get extra exercise.
I think I call it the law of unforeseen circumstances. I once coached an executive who piled on the weight and yet he was insistent that nothing had changed. After a full doctor check, I pushed him on it and he said the only thing that had changed was he was no longer going to the toilet upstairs as the office layout had changed.
It resulted in him putting on 1 whole stone over a year!
If you are looking for an alcohol free leisure activity, exercise can really change your mood and your health both mentally and physically.
10,000 steps a day the recommended amount and may take less time that you think.
Four – Socialize with like-minded people
There is no doubt that social pressure is an issue for many drinkers and non-drinkers at that. So this is not an alcohol free leisure activity per se but whatever you do make sure you are with people who support you.
I am lucky I have very supportive people around me but I have also been judged by people probably more than when I did drink! Bar owners now realize there are profits in those alcohol free drinks in the hills. Those attitudes are changing.
Hang about with people who are either supportive or just don’t have a complete circle around drinkers. Science has shown we like to be part of a crowd so it can be a real issue so we Iike to fit in.
Now this is not about dumping your friends but are they supportive or not? My metaphor is are they radiators or drains.
I get shouted about this a lot but very often the people close to us hate seeing us change. It is unsettling, so the people who care about the most may not have our best interests are heart but not that they know it.
Its bit like taking your best friends to therapy, it never works. You have to be responsible for your own change and your own life. It simple but can be really hard unless your understand the psychology of it.
Three – Be cultural
In a society that has a big following of alcohol pursuits it is good to push yourself to do something that maybe you have never have done in your life including if it feels awkward.
In my previous job I was responsible for outreach so reaching out to new audiences and being part of that involved getting different parts of a community to engage in something that they thought was beyond them or not just in keeping with who they thought they were.
The issue with drinkers generally is that we wrap it up in who we are. It becomes our identity. So “I am a big drinker” as a statement implies that is all you are and of course you are much more than that.
So here is a list of things considered an alcohol free leisure activity that you could do that don’t involve drinking for at least for part of it.
- Go a walk tour – even if you have lived somewhere for years
- Go to the theatre and ignore the funny looks you get, I still get them for wearing jeans
- Museums are a great place to challenge the mind
- Sit in a library or bookshop and read a random book then ask what did you learn it even if it just made you just smile
- Sign up to learn a language or evening class, you meet some great people and this can be online and very social.
- Go to a concert
If your time was all spent in the pub or a bar then this can be a stretch and your friends who don’t like change will think you are odd but after a while they will get curious and maybe ask to come along. I have seen it happen.
Two – Write a blog
So one of the reasons I started this blog is that I found myself in hospital with 48 hours to live and one of the reasons my liver packed in was social drinking. To be honest it was no more or less than many of my friends but I was dealt a card and I had to play the best way I could.
I created 00abv.com and it became an amazing success with like-minded people just curious about an alcohol free lifestyle and not just about drink but about health care as well !
I have over 500 comments from around the world and my traffic grows daily.
It was simple really I needed a new purpose and despite being an experienced media professional I wanted learn how to create a blog. One helped my purpose and mission and I joined an online platform after searching high and low with really good ethics to teach me how to blog, serve my audience and create income after taking redundancy from my media job.
The platform is called a wealthy affiliate and I now coach people and sponsor people on the platform. If you are interested you can initially join and sign up for free where you can try it out. Yes I am an affiliate but you do get access to me your coach with all my media experience. It might long term professionally be either full or part-time but it can be a new career which is maybe what you need. Finding a new purpose is key.
Whatever and however you blog, having a purpose and mission if you no longer drink is in my point. As a coach writing down my inner thoughts really helped!
It can help you find a really good focus and you can potentially make a difference to thousands of people worldwide. That’s a good thing, right?
One – Choose alcohol free drink and socialize anyway
This is probably one of my best strategies but only if it works for you and I realize if drink is a real issue then this may not be the right strategy for you. Only you will know.
What I did not realize when I gave up alcohol is how the alcohol free market has changed especially around gin and beer. I remember the non alcohol beer that you drank and left half of it on the bar.
The taste has changed and so has the reputation. Now availability is still an issue and you get stares in bars and that will change hopefully with the increase of blogs like this.
I find having an 0.0 abv choice in my hand can really take off the social pressure, you just need to make sure that you don’t get the drinks mixed up.
In fact what I found is that people are intrigued by your non alcohol drink options and begin to try it. In fact growth in the industry is up in excess of 24 per cent so we are in good company
There is something about what’s in your hand, that the pressure to drink alcohol seems just to go from others. It can actually then happen in reverse people choose a restaurant where you can only get an alcohol free option even when you are happy with a nice diet soda but the intention is good.
Just choosing one of these can change your focus. Some are big like writing a blog and some are just a simple walk in the park. However, I think the advice around alcohol free leisure activity is an excellent one with plenty of options.
Do anything, get a new interest, go and see a film but do something. I am not talking about drinking problems either, just drinking as part of a social habit can be a one that develops and gets out of hand before you realize.
What alcohol free leisure activity have you found useful? If you have recently changed your drinking habits what did you notice that you needed to changing that was in your remit.
I would love to know what you think and please do share it here so other can comment. I always respond. If you have your own top 5 alcohol free leisure activity I would love to read it.