THE BLOG

Put Down the Bottle: How to Stop Drinking and Be More Mindful

05/30/2014 10:35 am ET | Updated Jul 30, 2014
  • Heather Martin Business Consultant (heathermartin.org) & Author (reclaimingkonia.com)

One day, it dawned on me -- it had been awhile since I had skipped that evening glass of wine. Whether I could blame stress or if it was just a habit that I had taken for granted, I started to wonder if I could go without alcohol?

I'm not here to decry the benefits of a glass of wine -- the relaxation, the smells, the flavor, the enjoyment -- but when you wake up and your recycling looks like the work of a small village it is time to ask yourself, is it time for a change?

I looked again at my vision board and my journals, and realized a lot of my goals required a little more discipline, a little more focus -- no more three hour Big Bang Theory marathons and binge-drinking episodes. I wanted to write blogs, I wanted to finish my novel, Reclaiming Konia, I wanted to feel better, lose weight and be healthier. I wanted to have more energy, and focus, to work on the things that mattered the most to me.

I began to notice that wine not only caused hangovers, it affected my sleep, it affected my energy levels and it affected my mood and eating habits. I realized it was the last straw when I woke up the next day to find that someone had eaten an entire bag of Trader Joe's garlic naan (me)! It was Indian food, so at least it wasn't the usual junk food culprits of pizza or tacos -- forget that I followed the direction to the tee and "served it hot and glazed with butter." It wasn't a cheeseburger, though, so it must be OK?

It was truly a wake-up call, because I could deal with not having the perfect abs from my carb loading and being low on butter, but I couldn't live with the thought of how I was destroying my life and my future. I didn't feel great physically, and I felt bad spiritually. It wasn't the act of eating and drinking that gave me guilt pangs, it was the thought that I didn't remember the experience, I didn't savor the flavors, I had taken my life -- inadvertently -- for granted. And that made me want to work on changing.

I'm not saying it was easy, but here is how I started. I made a pact with myself to take just one night a week, any night of my choice, and not have a drink. Not even a sip of beer. That is how I started.

Now I am building on that foundation of being mindful of my habits and naturally moving into two or three nights without the sauce. After all, I quit smoking over a decade ago by stopping myself from grabbing a cigarette every time the mood struck me. I noticed that I grabbed the cigarette out of habit, with my morning coffee -- to celebrate, to mourn, to brood and to have with that drink. But if I just took a deep breath and paused for a second before lighting the cigarette, I could take the mindless habit and kick it. I realized that often times, I didn't even want the cigarette, it had just become second nature and I had stopped even asking myself if it was something I wanted.

So my one night a week sans alcohol coupled with a new mindfulness for life, which is a daily habit, is helping me to gain control over my life and spend more time on the things and with the people I love (and lowered my garlic naan bill).

I'm not sharing because I am proud, it is actually pretty scary to share my reality. But, I believe there is a way to gain our power back, and even taking a break one night a week gave me reason to be proud of my efforts to start to change my life for the better. And it showed me that I was committed to myself and the things I truly wanted to accomplish in life.

If I was going to have a glass of wine? Then maybe I would buy that delicious $7 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy the smell... the taste... the experience and skip the volume play of the two buck chuck.