Imagine this – a powder white beach, crystal blue water, and a balmy 85 degrees….finally a much-deserved vacation and some R&R. The only thing missing from this picture is the classic umbrella drink. So what happens when I give up drinking? No more foo foo drinks and all-inclusive, bottomless champagne with dinner? Annie gives us guidance for dealing with this question and shares how she enjoyed a Hawaiian vacation ten-fold by remaining alcohol free using these strategies.

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Vacations

Vacations, first of all. The point of vacations is to relax, to unwind, to enjoy our surroundings, to enjoy the company that we’re with, our families or our friends. The beauty of a vacation is that they give you a really good shot of doing that, because you’ve removed all your day-to-day stressors. You’ve basically unplugged from your typical life. It’s taken you out of your environment. You have a really good shot at just enjoying yourself and really relaxing.

Relaxation

What relaxing is, it’s not having any cares or any worries. If I’m on the beach, and it’s sunny and I feel the breeze on my skin, and over the ocean, and I’ve got a really good book, and I’m just there without a care in the world, I feel really, truly, fully relaxed in that moment. The truth is that alcohol can’t really improve that feeling. I could have a drink and it could give me a short term rush perhaps. But the enhancement that I might feel or might not feel, and I believe it’s somewhat subjective, is definitely going to bring me down in the hours to come.

Getting Naked

For me, This Naked Mind, it’s always been about continued awareness and consciousness about drinking rather than rules. I’ve really always tried to explore how I really feel about the instance, rather than impose rules on myself because the truth is, and I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I’m just somebody who completely bucks against rules. If you tell me I can’t do something, I want to do it.

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Alcohol Free Vacation

A few years ago, I was actually having this exact experience. I was on the beach in Hawaii, I had a really good book, I was overlooking the ocean, the kids were playing, and I considered having a drink. It was my first alcohol free vacation and I’d almost always have mai tais on the beach. I didn’t drink mai tais unless I was on vacation, and then that was my vacation drink. I was going to drink some mai tais, have a mai tai, or let’s be honest, eight or nine mai tais through the course of the day while I was out on the beach. Instead of just dismissing it with an “I can’t,” ’cause I knew that would make me miserable and feel really deprived, I really read deep into that thought, and I said, “Let me entertain it, what would it be like? What would happen if I had a drink?”

Mental Work

When I really thought about it, I realized that having that drink might have a little tiny, short-term benefit, but honestly, it would make me really tired and cranky, and it would make me thirsty, and it would awaken the craving for more alcohol. I wouldn’t have just a drink, and I certainly wouldn’t be satisfied with just a drink once I had one. There’s no way I that I would’ve wanted just a single drink as soon as I had that single drink inside of me. The truth is that I would have had more than one drink, and then instead of spending the next day in that blissed out state that I had enjoyed that first day on vacation, I would be hungover.

Mental Peace

When I really thought about it and I went deep into my feelings about it, I realized that I didn’t act want a drink. Mental peace, it’s having no distress. That’s just a feeling that you can’t achieve with the drug, a drug can make you feel like you have no distress for a limited amount of time, but mental peace is really coming to place where you’re letting go of your stress and you’re feeling really at piece. And drugs just don’t do that. If you’re truly happy and relaxed, then you don’t have any need to change your state of mind, you don’t have any desire to change your state of mind.

Not A Friend

Looking back I can see that my constant need for alcohol was actually kind of a tell-tale sign that alcohol wasn’t helping me do that, because by definition, anything that is truly helping you cures you, and you need less of it over time, not more of it over time. Alcohol’s not that way. Alcohol gives you the perception of being helped, but then you need more of it over time to maintain that because it actually is degrading the true peace and joy inside of you.

The Truth

If alcohol cured my stress, yeah, I would need less of it over time, and that certainly wasn’t true. Alcohol does not over the long term relax you. It does not fix the stress in your life. And it inebriates you, which in the short term covers the pain, but it never truly relaxes you, that’s just not something it physiologically does over time.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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