Ten discoveries from giving up alcohol for Lent

You needn’t be religious to quit for Lent

“Well because there is a supportive culture of abstinence around in Lent that makes it a bit easier. That means you can go to a party and say you’re not drinking because it’s Lent, and no-one will say “Oh go on, just one”. They might think, “I didn’t know SHE was religious”, but they won’t force a glass of Pinot Grigio into your hand.”
Mary Beard OBE, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, in TLS.

It is also a  gift – to yourself

“Lent you’re meant to give something up. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice. You’re to give up those things that you love. But this Lent I’m going to give myself a gift. No alcohol for 40 days.” Heather A Taylor

It’s easier if you do it with others

You will be with like-minded people doing the same.  “Tell as many friends as possible what you’re doing. Doing it with others also helped. I couldn’t have done it if Shaun hadn’t too.” Anne Atkins, Vicar’s wife and Radio 4 regular in the Daily Mail.

“Just saying ‘I gave up drinking for Lent’ out loud helped establish what I was doing and nobody questioned it in social settings. I confirmed that I can go out with friends and  have a good time drinking Diet Coke and not wine.” Claire Zulkey at WBEZ91.5 2013.

Not sure how? Make a start in Club Soda – join for free.

You will discover the difference between habit and enjoyment

“It teaches you how much drinking is sheer habit. Between about 6.30 and 7.30, yes it’s a struggle. That first glass of wine of the evening is hard to resist (and ginger beer doesn’t hit the same spot). But once that hour has gone, and even more when supper’s over, the desire has more or less dried up.” Mary Beard OBE, in TLS.

You can drink something else and enjoy it

“…I realised that if I shifted my thinking, I could find substitute associations. So I began imagining homemade lemonade on a summer’s day, and dark, cream-laced hot chocolate drunk late at night instead of a glass of port.”  Anne Atkins.

You feel more chipper!

“What I did notice was that when my anxiety did finally wear off, I felt happier, and optimistic about my ability to work through the problems I was facing.”  JD Moyer

You will sleep better

“I slept better – for years alcohol has affected the quality of my sleep – and woke more refreshed. But the real benefits were the psychological ones. I’d been irritated with myself for years for deciding to cut down on alcohol then not doing so. Achieving what I’d determined to do this Lent has given me back a sense of self-control.” Anne Atkins

“Also, I found I no longer had to drink a lot of water in the evening to avoid waking up parched the next morning (or in the middle of the night).” JD Moyer

And feel healthier

“I am still feeling tired, but my stomach is definitely flatter, while my runs in the park are a little less breathlessly unattractive for others to watch.” Rose Prince in The Daily Telegraph.

But alcohol may not be to blame for everything in your life

“I discovered that I use alcohol the way Susie Orbach claims women use fat: as a locus for blame, a red herring. Off the sauce, I was still tired, lazy and prone to overeating carbohydrates and chocolate. I still spent too much money, talked too much and went out too much. In fact, none of my problems can be blamed on drinking alcohol, except the one that involves drinking a little too much.” Nina Caplan at MoreintellegentLife.com.

You will gain a great sense of achievement that lasts past Lent

“I’d been irritated with myself for years for deciding to cut down on alcohol then not doing so. Achieving what I’d determined to do this Lent has given me back a sense of self-control.” Anne Atkins.

“For the first time since Lent began, I realized that I hadn’t craved or talked about alcohol during the past week. So to celebrate the return from the wilderness, I walked outside in silence with my cup of Chamomile tea.” Mallory McDuff, Ph.D., Warren Wilson College, North Carolina at Sojo.net.

You may also want to read about Anna’s reasons for giving up alcohol for Lent. And if you think you may struggle taking a break from drinking, whether for lent for any other reason, the Club Soda Sober Sprint online programme can really help. You can start it at any time, and the 30 days of emails, videos, articles and other content will take you through the process of planning for a month off booze, getting through it, and deciding where to go after.

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