Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series. Today I’m chatting to Stacey, a yoga teacher who is currently travelling round Asia (but I know from her days in London!)
Stacey is a London based yoga teacher (Stacey L Yoga) with a background in digital media. She is currently travelling, blogging and teaching yoga in Asia.
Stacey share’s her story below, read on for her not drinking diary …
Name: Stacey-Louise George (Stacey L Yoga)
Location: Based in London, but currently travelling Asia
1.Tell me a little bit of your drinking story …
I started drinking as a teenager… Mainly at house parties shotting vodka from bottle caps and necking alcopops. Like most, I drank through uni as well.
In my early twenties, I started working in media. I was also in a long term relationship where we both drank a hell of a lot. Most evenings I’d come home from work and crack open a beer and we’d maybe share one or two bottles of wine together. After that relationship ended, I made a new rule where I wouldn’t have alcohol in the house.
On top of this, there was the London, media drinking culture – and I guess this is common throughout most industries. My job role was client facing which meant a lot of entertaining; so boozy lunches, evening drinks and events. It also got to the stage where lunchtime drinks with colleagues any day of the week would be acceptable, so a lot of the time I’d be mildly drunk in the afternoon (at my desk) and then we’d head to the pub after work. On occasions, I’d blackout with no recollection of where I’d been or how I’d got home. Sometimes whilst out with colleagues or with friends, I’d find myself deliberately trying to cause drama out of boredom – usually lying, shitstirring and gossiping, this masked the anxious mess I was inside.
I’m an extroverted introvert and would find most social situations overwhelming. Drinking was my comfort blanket and at the time, I thought I was more fun to be around if I was drunk. 2015 was when I first decided to stop as I was marathon training. This was the start of a few months on the wagon and a few months off.
2. What led you to think differently about drinking?
It got to the point where being hungover at work was a common theme. Alongside this it would get to the weekend and I’d be exhausted. Saturdays would be spent either in bed, on the sofa or with my head down the toilet and trying to piece together what had happened the day before.
I had no energy to do the things I enjoyed, my parents would come and visit me or vice versa and I’d be grouchy, lethargic and feeling guilty because of this. I’d have evening plans with friends and I would either cancel on them to stay in the pub or turn up late, obnoxious and shitfaced. Then the debilitating anxiety would kick in, after a good session this could last for days on end.
On occasion, I wouldn’t even make it into work as getting out of bed would be too overwhelming for me. In short, I made up my mind that I couldn’t continue like this and was perpetually having to apologise to others about my behaviour or letting them down – it was time to throw in the towel.
3. How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
At the time of writing this I’m six months alcohol free. A MASSIVE achievement and I’ve decided that it’s a permanent choice.
4. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
Other people’s opinions has been a massive hurdle for me.
On one end of the spectrum I’ve flat out been told that I’m now boring as I don’t drink, to the softer “I don’t understand why you’re beating yourself up so much, you should allow yourself to have a drink once in a while”.
5.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
That I don’t need this comfort blanket to be myself. This has been the biggest thing and also something that I’m still figuring out – I guess it’s going to be more interesting when I’m back in the UK!I’ve also realised that I have a lot less tolerance for things that I don’t like or people that I’m not gelling with – this has definitely come to light whilst travelling and I’ve dropped the idea that I need to endure certain situations.
6. What benefits of cutting down on alcohol or stopping drinking have you experienced?
Ahhaaaa so many!!! No hangovers, no pranging, no vomiting up my stomach lining for 48 hours. Clearer skin, brighter eyes! Being able to sleep all the way through the night. A clear head, having the space to think and not being tired all the bloody time.
And the most important one is that I feel like I’ve won so much time back. No more days lost to recovering from the night before. Being able to enjoy an evening without worrying what I was going to say or do. I found I was so much more productive at work… The list goes on…
7. Are there any resources that have helped you to cut down or stop drinking?
8. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
As I’m moving around so much at the moment, I’ve found that a solid morning routine has really helped me to feel grounded. I get up, shower and then meditate. This can be anything between 5 minutes to half an hour depending on what I have planned for that day and where I’m staying (it’s really awkward to meditate in a dorm!).
(L’s note: I wrote about 3 meditation techniques to try here)
After this I’d like to say I sip lemon water eat a plate full of fruit and smash out a 90 minute yoga flow however, it’s usually a coffee (sometimes two) and whatever savoury beige food I can find.
9. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
Meditation has been a key thing for me and also taking good care of myself as well. I always like to spend a bit of money on decent products (Lush is my fave as their shampoo bars are so portable!) so I feel yummy wherever I am.
10. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Back home, it would always be yoga and brunch. Always. Whilst I’m away, it’s treating myself to good food wherever I am, some decent beach time and heading to a yoga class.
11. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
Dealing with social anxiety has been the biggy – sometimes I find that I’m forcing myself into a situations to prove that I can get through this without needing to drink. I’ve been volunteering and teaching yoga a lot whilst I’ve been away, and this has been so valuable for organically meeting people with similar interests and also rebuilding my self confidence.
12. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Meditation. Meditation. Meditation. It’s been such a valuable tool for me!
13. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
There are so many people out there that wish that they could either stop, or cut down their drinking. What you’re doing right now by stopping or cutting down is leading the way and inspiring.
Be sure to explore the other Not Drinking Diary interviews where people open up about their relationship with alcohol. There is a new Not Drinking Diary every Tuesday (well most of the time …).