I have to be honest with you. I hesitated to write this article but I don’t know why exactly. I know it’s important and I have learned a lot from it but my alcohol free experiment felt almost too personal too share.
Maybe it’s called “the naked life” because it feels so odd to talk about it. But let’s be grownups and talk about it.
Am I an alcoholic? Is this my big confession?
Not at all. I am a moderate drinker, an Italian who loves wine with pasta and a New Mexican who loves beer with Tacos.
Beyond that I’m not very interested in the booze culture. I’m not a mixologist and I’m certainly not a pub crawler.
Still, I read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and felt like it was time to try the “naked life” for myself.
Have you ever thought about trying an alcohol free experiment for yourself? Does life without alcohol sound hard, boring, or impossible? Why should you try the naked life?
Stick around for my honest review as I answer the question; “Is life better without alcohol?”
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Why Did I Try The Naked Life?
As I said, I wouldn’t have described myself as an alcoholic. So why did I read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace? And why did I consider trying the naked life? Why did I consider trying an alchohol free experiment?
As Annie Grace points out in her book alcohol is an addictive substance that is harmful and this question of whether or not someone “has a problem with alcohol” lures us into a false sense of security while we slowly consume more and more over our lifetime.
In short, I wanted to try the naked life, an alcohol free experiment because I wanted to prove I could enjoy life without alcohol.
Also, I wasn’t sleeping too well and I had bad gut-health I wanted resolved. Since one of my yearly goals was to improve these health concerns I thought an alcohol free experiment was worth a try.
Last but not least, I’m a minimalist. That means I’m going to experiment to find out what I need and don’t need in my life.
So what did I learn from life without alcohol? Was it hard to live the naked life? What’s it like having fun without alcohol? Is life better without alcohol? Let’s get into the details now.
Can You Relax Without Alcohol?
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Most of us drink alcohol because of our perception that it will take the edge off.
As a naturally anxious person with all the normal stressors in life I definitely felt that a glass of wine at the end of the day would help me relax.
But an interesting fact I read in Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind stuck with me.
She sited studies that prove that alcohol slows down your brain for about 25 minutes and that’s when we feel relaxed. But then alcohol stays in our system causing a spike in the stress hormone cortisol from withdrawal for up to 10 days.
So we take a drink and feel chill for half an hour but then we are stressed out until we feed the addiction and have another drink because we are in withdrawal.
Once we have the drink we feel happy for about 25 minutes and then we are stressed out again cause our body is addicted and isn’t happy till it gets more.
That means that overall alcohol is making us more stressed instead of more relaxed.
So here’s the question. Can you relax without alcohol?
In my personal experience, true to what the studies said, I felt pretty stressed out and irritable the first 10 days I had no alcohol. I really really wanted a glass of wine when stressful things happened.
But after that first 10 days I found that I was actually managing my emotions and stress much better. I wasn’t freaking out over little things and I was able to work my way through the bigger things including a small car accident.
After I got used to not drinking it didn’t feel stressful at all. I was totally able relax without drinking! I just enjoyed my soda or water or tea and went on my merry way!
What About Having Fun Without Alcohol?
So it’s good to know that you can relax without alcohol but a lot of people worry that they can’t have fun without alcohol. Or they wonder what having fun without alcohol would look like to their peers.
I have personally experienced plenty of fun times without alcohol so I wasn’t that worried about this. Still when you are in a setting where others are drinking and you are not you may wonder if you will be able to have as much fun.
Again I refer to This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. In it she talks about her worries that she wouldn’t be a fun person without a drink. But then she sites studies that show that drinking only really does one thing. It slows down your brain.
Alcohol does not make you funnier. It lowers your inhibitions cause your brain is moving slower and your judgment is retarded. And other than that it makes you sleepy so you crash sooner.
In my own observations as a person who is not drinking but still around people who do I found that to be true. The jokes people told were not quite as funny as the people telling them thought they were. The people who were drinking were more moody and crashed while I was still energetic.
I guess it’s objective. Can you have fun without alcohol? Only if you like knowing what is going on, saying actually funny things, and continuing to have energy for more than half an hour.
Is it Hard To Resist Alcohol?
Now that we are talking about having fun let’s talk about social pressure. Sure you can resist a drink without pressure but what about when you are in social situations?
Is it hard to resist alcohol in social situations?
The answer is yes. It can be hard to learn how to say no to anything but especially something that is so prevelent in our culture.
I did my “naked life” alcohol free experiment during the Superbowl, many small parties, and lots of luscious pasta dinners where my mom offered her homemade wine.
At home I simply let my family know I was trying not to drink any alcohol for awhile. They knew about my gut health issues and agreed is was worth trying.
When we were at small parties and the Superbowl I simply asked for a soda or said I had my water bottle already.
But when it came up, which was only a couple times, I told people I was just taking a break from drinking. I’m blessed with good friends who didn’t pressure me or think I “had a problem”.
If you decide to try life without alcohol don’t get too worried about this. At first it’s hard to say no to alcohol in social situations but eventually you get used to it and it’s not really that big of a deal.
And if your friends do pressure you to drink it might be time to reconsider their friendship or share This Naked Mind with them.
Things That Help Me Enjoy the Naked Life
So was it totally easy to give up alcohol for awhile?
Obviously it wasn’t. We live in a culture that pressures drinking all the time and connects it to fun and relaxation.
Then there’s the fact that alcohol is an addictive substance so even if you “don’t have a problem with it” you probably do have a problem with it. At least a little bit.
So what helped me?
First of all, I knew it was just an experiment. Life without alcohol wasn’t a permanent decision for me. It was just something I wanted to try out for awhile. Knowing that helped me feel less mournful when I wanted a glass of wine with my spaghetti.
The second thing that helped me was treating myself. Every week that I didn’t drink I gave myself license to buy a little treat for myself. These were things I needed anyway but I saved them for rewards.
For example one week I got a pair of new tennis shoes, another week I got a blouse, and another week I got an anti-theft travel bag for an upcoming trip.
Also when I was really longing to have something that wasn’t water or tea I created a sparkling drink with soda and juice or something else that was more fun! Having some mock-tail ingredients on hand can really help you feel less left out.
Last but not least, I found it very helpful to be straightforward with my friends and family. Just say you aren’t drinking right now. Tell them it’s an alcohol free experiment. It’s okay. Maybe you will even inspire someone to try out the naked life too!
Is Life Better Without Alcohol?
So here’s the biggest question of them all: Is life better without alcohol?
Well, it’s not worse.
My honest feelings about it are that when I am not drinking I feel better. My digestion is better and so is my sleep. I feel like my moods are more stable and I don’t ever feel guilty or wonder if there is a problem with how much I’m drinking.
All of those things make life better for me.
Also, I have enjoyed the simplicity of the naked life. It’s just one less thing to worry about. When you are opting out of alcohol you don’t worry about having beer or wine in the house and you don’t worry about going out to eat and driving home. It’s just simplifies life more than you would expect!
Also, my alcohol free experiment made me happy because I know that alcohol is not good for me so when I am not drinking alcohol I know that I am reducing my risk of cancer and other health problems mentioned in Annie Grace’s book, This Naked Mind. Drinking less or not at all with a great step to protecting and promoting your health!
Will I stop drinking forever? Do I think I will choose life without alcohol from now on?
No. I am going to France and I’m gonna have me some wine! I’m also going to enjoy some homemade wine with my homemade gnocchi!
But you know what? Trying the Naked life is one of the best things I ever did. It has rebalanced my relationship with alcohol and proved to me that I don’t need it to have a happy simple life.
Will You Try the Naked Life?
So what about you? Will you try life without alcohol? Could you experiment with the naked life for a month or more?
I encourage you to give it a try! I know you will be happy if you go for your own alcohol free experiment.
If you need more motivation please please read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. It is a fantastic book with lots of great science presented in a matter of fact way that will motivate anyone!