19 for 2019: week 11 update

Week of 11 March 2019

Week 11 has been interesting. I’m halfway through my 30 days of no alcohol (thing 13), which I wrote about on Thursday and onto day ten without coffee.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m also tracking my energy levels over the course of the day, which have so far been rather erratic so I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from that other than my body is probably still settling down after its rude removal of caffeine. The big thing that I’ve noticed is that most nights I’m tired and feeling ready for bed by 9.00, which I put down to my tiredness not being masked by the fake energy that drinking alcohol gives me in the evenings. So, getting to bed by my goal time of 10.45 hasn’t been a big challenge at all.

Here’s how my week has gone.

Day 11 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,401 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 12 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,879 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 13 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,610 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 14 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,566 | Bedtime: 10.00 pm

Day 15 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,046 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 16 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,527 | Bedtime: 10.45 pm

Day 17 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 34,443, | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

According to my trusty Fancy March Habit Tracker™, this week I succeeded in turning my computer off an hour before my allocated bedtime of 10.45 five out of seven nights. The goal of turning it off and disconnecting an hour before my actual bedtime, which has somehow become closer to 10.15 most nights, is nowhere near happening and I don’t know if that’s realistic at the moment.

Turning off your screens anywhere from an hour to two hours before you go to bed is a big favourite of the sleep gurus. For example, the US National Sleep Foundation says that using devices (including computers, TV and phones) before bed can mess with your body’s internal clock, reduces the amount of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin released into your body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep. The main reason is the blue light emitted by the devices. It claims “using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep”.

I don’t think I’ve read anything ever that says using devices right up to bedtime helps you sleep better, and most articles on sleep suggest turning off devices as part of an evening routine to help you get ready for sleep.

Even though I’ve tried developing an evening routine in the past I’ve never really made it work, and my evening routine is basically turn the computer off, clean my teeth and crash into bed. Given that most of the stuff I want to do is on my computer, I don’t know what else I might incorporate into an evening routine after I’ve shut the computer down and turned my phone off. Reading comes to mind but that’s about it. Anyway, I’m going to use this week to play around with bringing my bedtime back to 10.30 and my device off time to 9.30 and seeing if that makes a difference to my sleep quality. Since I haven’t gone to bed later than 10.15 this week I don’t see 10.30 as being a problem, but the 9.30 shut down might be!

It’s one to work on in the coming weeks.

Here’s how I’m tracking with the rest of 19 for 2019:

Photo course (thing 1): I completed the day 19 lesson and assignment.20190310 Assignment Day 19 05Walk from Taroona to Moonah (thing 3): I did this on Sunday! I walked over 34,000 steps, or 22 km, and I took heaps of photos.20190317 Moonah sign 1 editReading (thing 5): I finished book 13, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick, which is my sixth fiction book, so I have now finished this thing!20190314 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? editWellness (thing 6): I watched a video and I have a couple of ideas on what to do this week.

Photojournal (thing 11): I have now made all the collages for 2018 and they are ready for printing. All I have to do is stick them in the book.

33 Beers books (thing 12): I entered books 7 and 8 into the spreadsheet. I have two more to go.

Bucket List book (thing 18): I didn’t write anything in the book but I made a new note in Evernote with the heading Bucket List and I put one thing into it. The idea is when I get to 100 I will go through the list and pick 50 that I am really committed to doing and put them in the book to start with. I think I’m paranoid about putting something in the book that I’m not actually ever realistically going to do, and then failing to complete everything in the book. It’s the same thing as the fear of making the first mark in a brand new notebook, I guess! I think I have to take the perspective that this is a bit of fun, not a lifelong commitment to ticking off 100 things, and just start writing.

Lightroom (thing 19): I made some workarounds to avoid an issue that is constantly frustrating me. I edited some photos for a blog post.

Status for week 11

  • Things completed this week: 2 (3, 5)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2 (2, 16)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)
  • Things completed: 6 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 15)
Advertisements

30 days alcohol free: day 10

I wrote this post on Sunday, day 10 of the 30-day no alcohol challenge, and felt like it hadn’t been difficult at all. I’d been feeling really good about it. I guess that’s a good thing. I’d hate to be finding out that I’m addicted to alcohol and was unable to give it up!

(Confession: Later that day, around 5pm, when I was cooking dinner, I did start to feel like I was missing out. I had started a tradition on Sundays where I’d sit with a cider and write up my week in my photojournal. It was the first time I really felt like having a drink, but I didn’t cave in and I ate cheese instead. Lemon Mineral Water Sunday doesn’t quite cut it when I’m used to Cider Sunday!)

I was talking to a workmate, who I discovered is also having a break from alcohol, about this challenge. One of the things I’ve observed, other than feeling a lot less physically heavy, is that I am getting more tired at night, around 9 pm, and feel like I’m ready to go to bed at 10pm. When I’d had a few drinks in the evening, I rarely felt like this and was regularly able to stay up until past 11pm. My workmate said the same thing and we concluded that alcohol masks the tired symptoms so that you feel more aware and alert, but your body really is tired and is ready for sleep a lot earlier than you think it is.

So going to bed earlier, which is not one of my 19 for 2019 things, but is something I need to do so that I get more sleep and have more energy, has been something I haven’t had to try very hard to do now that I’m not dealing with the “I’m not tired” feeling that comes from having a few drinks in the evening.

In Chapter 23 of The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey writes about his 30-day experiment to drink only water. He cut out all coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks from his diet, much like I’m doing (as of Sunday). Like me, Chris already didn’t drink soft drink, but unlike me, he says he didn’t drink a lot of coffee or alcohol before he started.

I already touched on coffee on Saturday (sob!) and noted Chris’ comment that by consuming caffeine you are “borrowing” energy from later in the day. Along the same line, he suggests that drinking alcohol is “borrowing” energy from the next day. He says that it may “provide you with a bit more energy and creativity as you drink it, but it will also almost always provide you with a net loss in energy and productivity and make it much more difficult to accomplish what you intend to—especially after you come down off the buzz the drug gives you. [ . . . ] In the morning you have to pay interest on the energy loans. This leaves you with a net loss in energy.”

His conclusion after the 30-day experiment of no coffee or alcohol was that by the end of the month he began to have a huge amount of energy and that the amount of energy he had was much more stable; it didn’t fluctuate anywhere near as much as it had when he’d had a few drinks every week.

Chris suggests that most people (me!) won’t want to completely cut alcohol out of their diet but that if you understand the effects of drinking on your energy levels, you can make the decision on what to drink intentionally knowing the consequences.

This is a different way, to me, of looking at alcohol consumption than the normal messages of how bad it is for our health and the health risks associated with drinking, which are not insignificant.

I often read about how alcohol can overload our livers, contribute to weight gain, increase our risk of some cancers, and I completely disregard the current recommendations for “acceptable” drinking of two standard drinks a day, with two alcohol-free days a week. I don’t doubt any of this information but, despite overwhelming evidence about the risks of drinking, I have never been able to use that as motivation to reduce my consumption. It always seems as though those consequences happen to other people, or they take years to manifest and I have plenty of time to change my habits and, until then, I can go on doing as I please.

I know that this is not true. There are, no doubt, heaps of studies into why trying to encourage people to change unhealthy habits by telling them what the risks of their behaviour are often doesn’t work. Do gruesome photos on cigarette packs work? Smokers know the risks, yet they continue to smoke. Likewise, people who drink know the health consequences of doing so. I know them yet I continue to regularly drink at unsafe levels. (I know there’s a lot more factors involved and it’s a lot more complicated than this for many people. But this is a blog post, not a scientific paper and I’m writing about my experiences, not about the complexities associated with overcoming addiction and other related issues!)

What Chris’ experiment showed him, and what I’m hoping mine will show me, is the immediate consequences of drinking. Not the long-term possibilities that might affect future me. I’m hoping for results similar to Chris’ results so that when this experiment is over I will be more likely to make conscious, intentional decisions around if, when and how much I drink, knowing what the impact of those decisions on achieving my goals will be.

Today is day 14. All is good.

19 for 2019: week 10 update

Week of 4 March

Well, things took an unexpected turn this week, with a no-coffee experiment being unexpectedly thrown into the mix. You can read about that in Saturday’s post.

Everything else is going slowly, with my main focus this month on getting more sleep, avoiding alcohol (thing 13), and doing at least 15,000 steps a day for the Cancer Council’s March Charge fundraiser.

To get more sleep, I’m attempting to move my bedtime back from sometime between 11pm and midnight to closer to 10pm, with my interim goal being 10.45. I achieved this every day last week, and most of those days I was in bed well before 10.45 but decided to read for a bit before I went to sleep, so the times I’ve recorded are the times I’ve turned the light off, not the actual time I was in bed.

I’ve also been trying to turn my computer off no later than 9.45, to give myself an hour of screen-free time. That has been less successful, so I’m looking at things I can do to make it easier to do.

Here’s last week’s tracker:

Day 4 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,618 | Bedtime: 10.45

Day 5 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,421 | Bedtime: 10:45

Day 6 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 28,311 | Bedtime: 10.45

Day 7 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps:19,963 | Bedtime: 10.30

Day 8 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,775 | Bedtime: 10.45

Day 9 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,825 | Bedtime: 10.45

Day 10 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,916 | Bedtime: 10.15

I’m also tracking my wakeup time and my computer off time, as well as keeping an hourly record of what I’m doing and what my energy levels are as Chris Bailey describes in Chapter 3 of The Productivity Project. The purpose of this is to determine what my times of highest energy are so I can make sure I’m working on the things that are most important to me at these times. After ten days, the results are inconclusive. There were a couple of unusual things that probably threw a couple of days’ results off, and Chris also notes that if you’re making a switch to no alcohol and no caffeine, the first few days might not be entirely accurate as your body adjusts to being without those stimulants. So I’m planning to keep this up for a month and see if things become more consistent later in the month.

So much tracking!

20190308 Waterfront from Mac 2 3 edit

A morning walk

Onto other things on the list.

  • Photo course (thing 1): I watched two videos (day 17 and 18) but haven’t done any more assignments.
  • Reading (thing 5): I finished three books this week, one fiction and two non-fiction (The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey and The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz). I’ve now read 12 books this year but the brief was six of them had to be fiction and I’ve only read five fiction books, so I don’t consider this thing to be complete.
  • Wellness program (thing 6): I guess cutting out alcohol and coffee should contribute to reducing my stress levels and helping me stay calm, even though they are not specific issues that have been covered at this time. My main focus is on building up strategies I can call on when I get overwhelmed so I can better deal with those situations. I haven’t done a lot this week.
  • 2018 photojournalism (thing 11): I stuck a couple of collages in the book.
  • Beer books (thing 12): I entered one more book into the spreadsheet so I’ve finished six books, with four to go.
  • Explore a track on kunanyi (thing 15): I already did this in February but I got another opportunity this week to accompany a group of kids from Kramstable’s school on a day bushwalk on the Pipeline Track so I can tick this one off again!
    20190306 01 View from the Pipeline Track edit

    Pipeline Track, kunanyi

    20190306 07 View of the Mountain from the Waterworks edit

    Looking back at kunanyi from the Waterworks after the Pipeline Track walk

  • Lightroom (thing 19): I haven’t done anything specifically new; I’m just getting familiar with it by using it.

Status for week 10

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 4 (7, 8. 9, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 2 (2, 16)
  • Things not started: 6 (3, 4, 10, 14, 17, 18)

more coffee, please

I am a coffee lover. I think it’s fair to say that coffee was one of the things that got me through my first attempt at quitting sugar in 2013. Back then, I had coffee with milk and it wouldn’t have been unusual for me to have five or six coffees a day.

I know!

At one point, I don’t remember when, I decided that this was just too much caffeine and, to help me cut back, I switched to black coffee. I now only have two coffees a day, one first thing in the morning and the other one from my plunger when I get to work, or sometimes at a coffee shop before I go to work.

My March energy experiment, which is based on chapter 4 of Chris Bailey’s book The Productivity Project and is intended to help me identify the times during the day when I have the most energy, involves cutting out alcohol, increasing the amount of sleep I get and tracking my energy over the month. In the book, Chris suggests cutting out all stimulants, especially sugar, coffee and alcohol, to give you a more accurate picture of your body’s natural cycles.

Cut out coffee!?

Um, no. No freaking way.

You’d have to wrench my morning coffee out of my cold, dead hands.

Okay, not exactly true. I’ve had in the back of my mind for maybe 12 months the idea of cutting out coffee for 30 days just to see what happened but I had no real interest in actually doing it. It didn’t even make the “potential 19 for 2019” list. Quitting alcohol was going to be much easier.

One of the first books I read this year was Dr Libby Weaver’s Exhausted to Energised. It’s one of my go-to references for finding strategies to give me more energy so that I can do the things I want to do this year. Dr Libby talks about caffeine in the book.

Caffeine sends a message to the pituitary gland in your brain that it needs to send a message to the adrenal glands to make stress hormones: adrenaline and/or cortisol.

Basically, these hormones prepare your body for action so that you can deal with the “threat” that has triggered the release of the stress hormones, and the functions that aren’t necessary for ensuring your immediate survival start to slow down. They also make you crave sugar for getting fast energy, rather than taking energy from your fat stores.

I’ve been reading a lot about the effects of chronically high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream due to stress as part of the wellbeing work I’ve been doing this year. A lot of the calming strategies I’ve been putting into place (thing 6 of 19 for 2019) have been to address this issue, so now I know that consuming caffeine may also be contributing to me being not-calm, perhaps it’s time to rethink my reluctance to at least experiment with not having it.

Dr Libby recommends taking a break from coffee for four weeks just to see if there is any change in your energy levels.

Still reluctant to stop completely, last week I decided to cut back from two to one coffee a day, with the idea that once my coffee supply at work ran out I wouldn’t replenish it. That happened on Thursday so Friday was my first one-coffee day.

I made sure I had a substitute ready to go so I at least had the ritual of having a drink when I got to work, even if it wasn’t the same thing. No problems.

20190307 Last coffee at work edit

Last coffee at work

I think I would have been happy with that until this morning when I read chapter 23 of Chris Bailey’s book and I started to rethink things. Chris says that drinking caffeine is a way of borrowing energy from later in the day.

He explains

Eight to 14 hours after you consume caffeine, your body metabolises it out of your system, which causes an energy crash (the exact number varies from person to person). There is a chemical in your body and brain called adenosine, which tells your brain when it’s tired. Caffeine prevents your brain from absorbing this chemical, which prevents your brain from knowing it’s tired. But . . . while caffeine prevents your brain from absorbing adenosine [it] continues to build up until caffeine eventually lets your brain absorb it again. Your body and brain then absorb a whole whack of this tired chemical at once, which causes your energy levels to plummet.

I didn’t know this but it makes a lot of sense. Basically, caffeine attaches to the same receptors in your brain that adenosine attaches to and once the caffeine wears off you get a massive hit of adenosine, feel exhausted, so you grab another coffee to wake yourself up. Apparently, this is why people who drink coffee late in the day can feel exhausted the next morning because the drowsy-causing adenosine is still in their system, so they head straight for the coffee first thing in the morning.

I don’t drink coffee in the afternoon but I certainly get a huge energy crash after lunch that lasts well into the late afternoon and sometimes early evening. I put it down to my body needing to rest after a meal, but the duration of my low energy spell in the afternoon seemed to be excessive so, having learned about adenosine, I wondered if there was more to it.

All factors were pointing to the coffee experiment needing to take place.

Thinking about this, I figured the worst that could happen is that I felt a whole lot better and had more energy in the afternoon and felt less anxious. The best would be that it had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever and I could continue drinking coffee.

I still wasn’t sure. I mean, it was a four-week experiment. If I can quit alcohol for a month, surely I can quit coffee.

But coffee!!

I went to get my second coffee of the day.

The coffee machine made a weird noise and stopped working.

I am not making this up.

If ever there was a sign, that was it.

It seems as though the decision has been made for me and I will be abstaining from coffee for the foreseeable future.

I’ll be interested to see how this pans out in the energy tracker over the next couple of weeks.

19 for 2019: week 9 update

Week of 25 February 2019

After my two mid-week posts, it’s time for my regular weekly update on 19 for 2019.

You most likely would have seen my posts last week about starting my 30 days alcohol-free (thing 13) and how I’m using that to try to get to bed earlier. Cleverly, I picked one of the longest months, which also happens to have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sunday, which are the days I’m intending to restrict drinking to once this month is over. (No drinking on a school night!)

March is also the month I’m taking part in the Cancer Council’s March Charge fundraiser by walking 300 km in March (15,000 steps a day) as well as trying to get more sleep by going to bed earlier. The three are all linked, because to be able to walk 3000 steps per day more than I normally do (that’s about an extra two km), I will need more energy. To get more energy I need more than six hours sleep a night; to get more sleep I need to go to bed earlier; and to go to bed earlier I need to cut out drinking so I don’t get caught up in that “just one more”, “oh, I’ll just watch this YouTube video”, “I’ll have quick top-up because the video hasn’t ended,” “this video looks interesting, I’ll watch that while I finish my drink” . . . “oh no! It’s 11.30 and I have work tomorrow . . .” spiral.

So. Today is day four. Day one was helped a bit by the fact that I felt really unwell on Friday and didn’t want anything to drink.

Day 1 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,180 | Bedtime: 10:40

Day 2 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,858| Bedtime: 10:50

Day 3 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 19,324| Bedtime: 10:00

It’s a bit soon to be drawing any conclusions at this stage. I also need to work out a fancy tracking system so I can keep track of things.

In other things:

  • Photo course (thing 1): My flash arrived so I completed assignment 11.
  • Read 12 books (thing 5): I completed book 9 (2001 A Space Odyssey), which is my fourth fiction book. I’m now reading books 10 and 11, both of which are non-fiction.
  • I got a new electric oil burner to replace the one I smashed and am keeping it in my room rather than the bathroom so if it gets knocked off it won’t shatter. I’m trying out different scents to see if any of them affect my mood or my state of mind. I did some of the journalling work this week (thing 6).
  • Photojournal (thing 11): I printed weeks 30-48. I stuck a couple of collages in the book. This is really a low-energy task that I have to remember to do if I get a few moments when I’m not sure what to do, rather than reach for my phone and get sucked into social media.
  • 33 Beers (thing 12): Book 5 completed. (5 down, 5 to go) I appreciate the irony of the fact that I am having a month off alcohol yet spending time updating a spreadsheet of all the different beers I have tried over the past four years.
  • Lightroom (thing 19): I’m still using it.

Status for week 9

Things completed this week: 0

Things I progressed: 7 (1, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 19)

Things in progress I didn’t progress: 2 (2, 16)

Things not started: 6 (3, 4, 10, 14, 17, 18)

Things completed: 4

  • Thing 9 (9 January)
  • Thing 8 (21 January)
  • Thing 15 (1 February)
  • Thing 7 (12 February)

You can expect me to be posting more frequently in March with updates on the no-alcohol challenge and how I’m going with my walking.

19 for 2019: more sleep, less booze

Quite some time ago, I don’t remember when, I heard about Chris Bailey’s Productivity Project, in which Chris set out to conduct a year-long series of productivity experiments on himself to find out how different strategies and tips affected his work. He wrote a blog about his experiences and followed that up with a book in 2016, which I’m currently reading.

20190302 Productivity Project edit

Who wouldn’t want to become more awesome?!

I’m a big fan of experiments like this and even tried it out myself in 2016, inspired by Kylie Dunn’s Year of TED project, though I wasn’t quite as successful as Kylie in sticking with it for a year and it all rather fizzled out in the end.

I’ve decided to try my own experiment in March that combines the idea of Kylie’s 30-day experiments; one of Chris’ experiments, my 19 for 2019 thing 13 (an alcohol-free month); my ongoing wellbeing work that will give me the energy to be able to do all the things on my list (thing 6), in particular getting more sleep; and an increased level of exercise.

I wrote in Wednesday’s post about my goal for March being to move my hours of sleep from six (probably less) closer to seven a night and how one of the main things that will help me do this is to quit drinking for the month.

The second thing I’m going to do is try and move my bedtime from after 11pm to somewhere closer to 10pm.

A key reason I want to get more sleep is to improve my energy levels throughout the day and to become more aware of when I naturally have more and less energy. I’ve been reading about ultradian rhythms, the gist of which is that our bodies have natural cycles of energy and rest (or high energy and low energy) that last about 90-120 minutes. The theory is that we have a period of about 90 minutes of high energy, which is followed by a period of low energy of about 20 minutes (similar to sleep cycles of 90 minutes of non-REM sleep and 20 minutes of REM sleep)  and that this continues throughout the day.

This is where Chris Bailey’s experiment comes in. In chapter 4 of The Productivity Project he writes about how, if you know the times when you have the most energy, you can schedule your day to work on the things that are most important to you at those times and take breaks and work on things that require less energy and focus at times when your energy levels are lower.

To get familiar with his natural cycle, Chris kept a log every hour of every day for three weeks of what he had been working on and how much energy he had during that hour. To make it as accurate as this kind of thing can be, Chris cut out all alcohol and coffee, ate as little sugar as possible and tried to wake up and fall asleep naturally, without setting an alarm.

I won’t be following Chris’ experiment to the letter. I’m already good with the no sugar thing, so I don’t have to worry about making any changes there, and am committed to the no alcohol month. But there is no way I am giving up my first coffee of the day, at least not at the start. (My second, I have plans for, but that can wait.) And I can’t sleep in on weekdays mornings and do all the things I want to do (and need to do) and still get to work on time. I know, I’ve done it a couple of times accidentally. So I have to set an alarm. But this is an experiment, not a regiment, so I’m just trying it out. The first week of March will be my adjustment period—Chris recommends cutting out the three stimulants (sugar alcohol and caffeine) a week before you start tracking.

The main thing I’ll be focusing on in the first week will be to have a shutdown for the evening routine that will make sure I’m in bed by 10.45. If I move this back by 15 minutes a week, I should achieve the goal of a 10pm bedtime before the end of the month.

Sounds easy, right?!

The final piece of the puzzle is increased exercise. I am taking part in the Cancer Council’s March Charge, and have committed to walking 300 km in March to raise funds for this very worthy cause, which is the equivalent of about 15,000 steps a day. My daily goal up to now has been 12,000 steps, which I’ve been meeting on most days but not every day. So I’ll have some extra work to do there.

Of course, I just made it all the more difficult for myself by falling down my front stairs on Tuesday and hurting my back, which has made walking (and moving in general) an uncomfortable exercise. Fortunately, it seems like nothing is seriously damaged. My doctor said that I’m still walking around is a good sign and I haven’t broken anything (since confirmed by the x-ray). I keep thinking how much worse it could have been if I’d tumbled rather than slid!

19 for 2019: mid-week 9 update

Week of 25 February

Whatever is the world coming to? A mid-week update? This never happens! Next thing you know I’ll be returning to blogging every day.

Maybe not.

This is an update about getting ready to take on thing 13 from my 19 for 2019 list, which is to go alcohol-free for a month.

I did a 30-day alcohol-free challenge in 2016.

I discovered that it wasn’t that difficult to do because I’m what Gretchen Rubin refers to as an “abstainer”, which means I find it easier to give up something entirely than to set limits on how much of it I can have.

This may sound extreme to those who push the “everything in moderation” barrow, as that obviously works for them. It does not work for me. Example: If I open a packet of chocolate, I can’t just have one or two pieces. I have it all. If I don’t open it, I won’t have any. If I don’t have it in the house, I don’t want it and I don’t go out and get it.

So back in 2016, once I’d made the decision not to drink for a month, I didn’t have to think about it again. I wasn’t going to drink. I would always refuse.

I noticed benefits in doing this. No seedy feeling in the morning from having one extra wine the night before. I felt like I had more energy and I felt less weighty. I also managed to get to bed earlier most nights because I wasn’t staying up having that last glass of wine that contributed to the morning seedy feeling.

And, for me, going to bed earlier is a good thing. I normally get up around 5 am to go for walk, so staying up past 11.00 or even until 10.30 (or 10.00 . . .  *squirms nervously* *emits small squeak* . . . let’s not go too far here . . .) means I don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours sleep or whatever it is. I’ve read different accounts, but none of them say that fewer than six hours sleep a night, which is what I do most nights, is okay.

Based on my experience last time, I think that alcohol-free March (no cool names like Dry July or Ocsober here) is the perfect time to start putting steps into place to get more sleep. So in March, my goal is to get my hours of sleep closer to seven hours a night than six. Normally, I wouldn’t try to do more than one 30-day challenge at a time. But if I look at getting more sleep as being my goal, then going without alcohol is one strategy I’m using to get to that goal. So yes, it’s a thing in itself, but it’s more than that so I don’t feel like I’m taking on two separate challenges.

Unfortunately, 1 March is a Friday, and starting this challenge on a weekend is probably not ideal. Also, there are actually five weekends in March so I really drew the short straw there!

I’ll be posting more than normal in March as I work through this. There are a couple of other experiments I’m going to try out at the same time that are also connected to getting more sleep and I want to keep myself accountable and have a record of how it’s all going. It all links back to thing 6, which is taking better care of myself so I have the energy to be able to do all the things on my list. I’m interested to see how it all pans out over the month.