I was in the office doing some work last Friday when a colleague who I don’t know very well asked me if I’d like a coffee. I said no and told her I don’t drink caffeine and she laughed and said, “Oh my god, what do you do for fun? If you don’t drink alcohol and you don’t drink caffeine, what do you do for a good time?”
This wasn’t mean or snidey, she’s a lovely person and was being good-humoured and polite – inviting me into the office culture and banter. I was surprised she mentioned that I don’t drink as I couldn’t remember having told her that so was impressed that she cared enough to remember that detail! I laughed along good-humouredly and said dancing was my drug of choice and we started chatting about our plans for the weekend.
I felt no awkwardness, shame or embarrassment – it’s a normal part of many office cultures to centre the banter around unhealthy life choices like eating sugar, drinking alcohol, avoiding physical activity, etc. I’ve noticed in this particular office, there is always a plateful of biscuits, sweets or cakes somewhere and it’s normal for people to help themselves, moan about how much sugar they’re eating and then commiserate with each other about their weight… It’s normal for people to centre their conversations around what makes them miserable – it can sometimes feel a bit awkward or surprising when someone comes along who isn’t playing that game and is playing by different rules.
But, it got me thinking - what do I do for a good time? – how do I have fun now I’m living life alcohol-free? And, I came up with a long list:
- I dance (my partner and I jive and have done for years – it’s the best fun and always makes me smile)
- I cycle (I love being outdoors in the fresh air, appreciating the nature, scenery and weather around me and getting some exercise at the same time
- I cook and eat healthy foods (80% of the time!)
- I spend time training my dog
- I learn Spanish
- I spend a little time each day writing my book which always gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment
- I enjoy meeting up with friends and family
- I workout regularly which leaves me feeling energised and great and keeps my body healthy and strong
- I read – I love nothing better than snuggling into bed with a good book and reading till I fall asleep
- I listen to music – I find music affects my mood dramatically so I choose music depending on what I’m feeling
- I listen to podcasts and I choose podcasts that stretch me intellectually or interest me with great stories or good ideas – usually I’m learning something new and coming away feeling motivated and inspired.
- I take pleasure in simple, little things that would get overlooked in my drinking days: a beautiful sunrise; a family of ducklings cheeping their little way past the back door; a frosty morning, the cold air fresh against my cheeks; the anticipation of a social gathering; laughter with a friend.
And, of course, I often find myself on the sofa of an evening, when my brain has retired for the night and has started to switch off, escaping into a good drama, film or box set.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be a problem if you choose a different path to the people around you. I might be the only person in the office who doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine (although I’m sure I’m not) but that doesn’t matter. We’re all entitled to choose the path that takes us to where we want to go. You make the lifestyle choices that work for you and let other people make the ones that work for them.
When you first stop drinking, it can be a challenge to imagine yourself ever having fun again. But, the truth is you learn different ways to have fun and you end up having more fun than you did when you were drinking. And, it's healthier fun!
All of the things I do for fun now are things that are healthy and good for me in some way. Although I did most of these things when I was drinking, it wasn’t to the same capacity, I wasn’t as fully present in the moment and I wasn’t as appreciative of them (I was usually counting down the hours till my next drink). I also didn’t give my all to them and wasn’t as fully in control. I do way more of these now I’m sober than I ever did before.
I would say the fun and enjoyment in my life has more than doubled as a result of living life sober and making healthy choices.
What has going sober helped you to do more of?
What do you do for fun now you’re not drinking?
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