Ep #7: The Unexpected Benefits of Taking a Break

Most people who think about giving drinking a rest look forward to two obvious types of benefits: feeling better emotionally (less embarrassment, self-loathing, regret etc.) and physically (no hangovers, better sleep, being more clear-headed etc.). 

At the same time, however, a lot of us feel like we're signing up for a different form of suffering... the kind that makes us feel like we will always be missing out, that we won’t be as fun or that we won't fit in.

Today, I share three unexpected benefits of taking a break from drinking that are going to prove that not only can you enjoy the emotional and physical perks you're already looking forward to, you can also learn to face your fears and enjoy an even better life than you have now!

Tune in to hear some of my favorite realizations about how time and confidence are connected and how you, too, can leverage a break from drinking to improve your life in unexpected ways.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How we're used to thinking about what our life will be like without alcohol.
  • How drinking affects how much time we have in a day.
  • Why you might freak out when you realize how much more time you have.
  • The issues you’ll be able to learn how to fix without having a drink.
  • The new “super powers” you will gain from taking a break.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Click here to read the full transcript

Welcome to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart. If you are an alcoholic or an addict, this is not the show for you, but if you are someone who has a highly functioning life, doing very well, but just drinking a bit too much and wants to take a break, then welcome to the show. Let’s get started.

Hello friends welcome back. This is a very early morning in San Francisco right now. I actually have to record these podcasts either really early in the morning or in the evening, because my office looks out on another home that is currently under construction. It’s been under construction for months. There are guys there every day and during the day it is all drills and saws and hammer and all the sorts of things that don’t make for good podcast recording and I want to tell you a story because when I started recording these episodes, I realized pretty quickly that the construction workers across the way and my desire to have a great sound environment were in kind of conflict. It wasn’t really going to work. As soon as I realized this was a problem, I just decided, “Ok well, I need to figure out their schedule.” So, I walked over to the construction site. I went inside and I asked to see the foreman. He was totally lovely and he told me what hours they work and was very very kind and understanding. So, I figured out really early mornings before their construction workers arrive or in the evenings is really the best time for me to record these episodes.

Now why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because of today’s topic, which is all about the unexpected benefits of taking a break from drinking. You are probably a little confused right now, what walking over to a construction site has to do with a benefit from taking a break from drinking. But I will tell you one of the benefits is increased confidence and I am going to talk to you about that later. But in the past, that is really not something I would have done. I would have hemmed and hawed. I would have been really annoyed and frustrated and probably complained to my husband or other people about how it was so unfair that there is this construction site and when I was possibly going to record these episodes. I would have made a bunch of excuses. I might have told myself, well, I just need to wait more. I won’t launch this podcast until they are done with all the construction. I just would have stewed and had I just worked up the courage to walk over and asked to speak with the foreman, it would have taken a lot of time and energy. I would have really had to, to really work is a problem and I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation. I just walked out my front door and went over and went and talked to myself up and I am not like that anymore. I recognize that there these guys, and I think that level of confidence is something that I see in so many parts of my life that I didn’t have before and I will explain later that why I think that is and why I think that taking a break can generate so much confidence for you.

But before we dive into that, I want to talk to you about why we have to, what I think is a very narrow or limited perspective, on what kind of benefits you can expect if you take a break. So, most people when they are thinking about taking a break and they are envisioning their future, they are thinking about two types of benefits. One type of benefits are physical benefits. So, they are thinking about, “I’m going to wake up and I’m not going to have hangover. I’m not going to have a headache. I won’t feel nauseous, I won’t be groggy.” Maybe I will have slept through entire night. I won’t be consuming lots of empty calories. I won’t be doing lots of late night snacking or late night eating and to get rid of these things, is quite an appeal. I will just tell you, “I certainly noticed and I think a lot of my clients do that, the older you get the longer the hangovers lasts and the worse you feel.”

The second type of benefits are emotional benefits and so there is an expectation well if I am taking a break and I am not drinking, I am not going to wake up feeling embarrassed. I am not going to have regrets. I won’t be running through my mind thinking why did I do that? Why did I say that last night? I wish that I hadn’t. I won’t have to piece together exactly what happened or call a friend. You know, phone a friend and get their version of what happened, and more importantly I won’t be beating myself up for drinking more then I planned. That’s such a big thing. So many people, you know, they wake up the next day and they feel physically terrible. But then they have this huge emotional storm going on inside of just beating themselves up and so that’s the other type of benefit that I think people expect.

People expect, I am going to take a break and I am going to get these physical benefits of no more hangovers and not feeling so terrible the next day and I am going to have these emotional benefits of not going to be embarrassed. I am not going to be regretful. I won’t be beating myself up. So, maybe you can relate to this. Maybe these are things that you have thought about before and these were the things I wanted too. I truly did not like the after effects, physically or emotionally of drinking too much.

But here is the problem I also had a sneaking suspicion that my life was not going to be as good when I took a break from drinking. I did, I thought, okay, I am going to say goodbye to hangovers and I am going to say goodbye to embarrassment and regret. But I think my life be kind of boring. I think it might not be as fun. I’ll feel better but I really thought that I would start suffering in a new different kind of way and that suffering was the suffering of always missing out, never having as much fun. Never being able to be silly or let loose or just do what everybody else was doing. Never being able to fit in with the crowed and be like everybody else and I think a lot of you out there also have that sneaking suspicion. You want the physical benefits and the emotional benefits that I described, you want to not have hangovers, not feel physically bad, not feel emotionally bad, but you also have this sneaky suspicion that your kind of feel like you might be signing up for something that is not as good and is truthfully its maybe a different kind of suffering.

So, people are always surprised when I say that my life now is so much better and not better in a, “I am so glad I don’t have hangovers kind of way.” Because that’s good, it’s good not to have a hangover but I don’t think that gets you to so much better, I don’t think it gets you to where I am, where my life I feel like is more fun, more exciting, I am more connected to the people in my life. I am more able to relax and loosen up and cut loose and all of these things that I previously thought really having a drink was the quickest avenue to feel these ways. I now feel so much more capable to do these things on my own and I actually think that the reason that why we have this sneaking suspicion of how our life actually might be physically feeling better and emotionally removing the embarrassment and regret. But is it going to be as good, is because we see so many upsides in having a drink. We see so many upsides it loosens me up, it relaxes me, it makes me more social, it takes the edge off a long day. It’s easier to kick back and fun with friends, it’s easier to open up, it’s easier to be intimate, it’s easier to be a little silly or a little crazy or feel more confident or feel more attractive or sexier and it’s just a reward, it’s a treat that I give myself. So, we have all these upsides and those are pretty appealing upsides. Right! All those things sound pretty good and then we see the down side as the cost of drinking too much, and it’s the hangovers, headaches and the regrets and the empty calories and the emotional consequences.

So, it feels like yeah okay, there are all these down sides but look at the upsides. The upside is relaxing and confidence and fun, being funny and silly and not being stressed and we still really want these feelings and that’s why I think so many people feel torn, because they think like, “Wow! I don’t want to give up those upsides. I kind of like that. I enjoy those things. I like being able to feel more confident. I like that I can loosen up. I like that I can get out of my head. I like that I can take the edge off.”

Right, it kind of feels like losing a lot of upsides just so you can get rid of feeling physically bad or feeling embarrassed or regretful the next day, and what I want to offer to you that yes there are physical and emotional benefits when you take a break. You will feel better. You will wake up clear headed. You will have better digestion and I think a lot of people experience their skin starts looking better and their sleep is better and they have so much energy and it’s also pretty darn nice to not to be beating yourself up all the time and not to be waking up and feeling regretful or embarrassed. But what I want to offer you is that like that is just the beginning.

It is really just the beginning of the benefits that are waiting for you, and I just think most of us have no idea because we have never—we have never considered it and we also a lot time don’t have a lot of examples of people who can talk about these kinds of unexpected benefits. So, that’s what I am going to go through with you today. There are three of these unexpected benefits what I want to share with you.

I will tell you I wish that someone had shared this with me way back when--when this was something that I was going way back and forth on, because I think If I could have seen a better future and not just a future of, well I won’t have hangovers but I am losing all the upsides, I think that it would have helped me make a decision and would have helped encouraged me to take a break so much sooner.

Okay, so the very first benefit, unexpected benefit that people don’t think about is more time. Really a lot more time and I will tell you, I don’t know a single person that says, “Oh I have enough time. I don’t need any more time in my life; really I have got it covered.” Right everyone, we all want more time and I think part of why we are not expecting this is because many times we don’t even realize how integral, how woven in drinking is to so many parts of our life, so from getting home to meeting up with friends going out to dinner, going to a concert, going to a baseball game. Whatever it is we are just not even aware of it because it’s so omnipresent, right? It’s kind of part of most things when you are an adult for a lot of people, and so, we don’t even realize how much time it takes up and how much energy we spend on things related to drinking.

Even though I talk about it a lot that drinking was kind of a pass time for me, I still really wasn’t prepared for all the time I am going to have on my hands even though, you know, I would go out to happy hour after work. I would meet up with friends at a wine bar or go get cocktails. I would always go out to dinner and have something to drink. I would have people over, I would go to people’s houses and we would be drinking. Right, I would go to brunch – go to brunch and you would have a mimosa. Right, I would go to whatever a concert, a sporting event. Whatever it was, alcohol was so often part of it. And so, I really was not prepared for how much time I was going to have and time, not because I wasn’t all of a sudden doing these things, but because when you take a break and when you takeout alcohol, you are not spending time either being buzzed or being drunk. Right and you know how much time that takes up. Right, or you know how that sort of creeps into other time.

So, you know I would have, you know go out with coworkers after work and I would have a couple beers and I would be buzzed or a little drunk, but I would call it a night and I would go home, but that would sort of creep into the rest of my evening. Right, it would creep into dinner how I was feeling. I wasn’t, you know when you have had a couple of drinks and then you head home, what are you most likely to do. Well, you are most likely to probably to pop yourself on the couch and order food, which is what I would do a lot. I wasn’t sort of aware of how it was even when I wasn’t drinking a lot, even when I was not getting very drunk. How just drinking and the feeling I got from a buzz was extending into other time.

So, there was that way that it took up time, but then I also took up time on the backend. Right, and so I was waking up the next day and so sometimes I would wake up and I would have terrible hangovers, but a lot of time times I would just wake up feeling mad. A lot times I would just wake up feeling groggy and just also kind of started to think like, “Well that’s what happens when you become an adult. You are just always tired.” You are always tired and you always feel like kind of terrible in the morning. It’s just not very pleasant. That became my normal because so often I was drinking in the evening and I think a lot of people are in that same boat. A lot of people also think, yeah, well, that’s how it is, you just get older and you just hate waking up, it doesn’t feel good, and I will tell you that when I took a break, all of a sudden I got a little clarity around that and I realized, “Oh, I can actually get up quite early and have a lot of energy,” this is interesting, this wasn’t something that I was expecting.

Now, I will tell you, I had a lot more time because I wasn’t feeling the effects of alcohol after drinking either immediately after or the next day, but I also had a lot of time because I was choosing to spend my time differently. You know, I still wanted to see my friends who still went out to dinner, I still went to bars sometimes, but I also decided that maybe not the most enjoyable thing, that’s not the thing that I am so geared up to do when I am drinking a club soda, and I will tell you, this--having all this time, it did kind of freaked me out a little big because I wasn’t expecting it and I remember thinking to myself, I’m an adult woman in my 30s and I have no idea what I should do with this time. I have no idea how I’m going to plan my weekend, and not only that, I also felt like I don’t really know what I like to do and that really freaked me out.

The idea of not knowing what I liked to do was very disconcerting for me and I went through a period of really doubling. You know I decided like, well I guess I’m going to have to figure this out and so I took cooking classes and I started exploring New York City more where I was living at the time and I took ballet classes that did not work very well and I learned how to fly fish and I would go on historic walking tours and I took classes on interior design and this is one of the things that really stuck when I was trying to figure out. I started painting again, I didn’t pick up a paint brush in probably fifteen years, but it was something that I really enjoyed when I was a kid and I had to stop, I mean frankly, certainly once in the college I really didn’t have a lot of time for these activities, so I was spending a lot of time drinking and I started painting again and it was such a funny sensation to be a grown woman and looking around at the world and thinking, I’m actually not really sure how I want to spend my time. That’s how much time I had.

So, expect to have more time, but also I always try to prepare people don’t be freaked out. Don’t be freaked out when all of a sudden you are not really sure how you want to spend it and I think it’s because for so many of us drinking is so a part of so many things and the effect of alcohol sips in to a lot of time and not just time, when you are waking up the next day not feeling great. So, expect more time.

The second unexpected benefit was that I suddenly was in a position to solve the problems that drinking was fixing for me. I talked about this before, I’ve talked about how I especially really used alcohol and pouring myself a drink is a way to deal with insecurity, a way to deal with my anxiety and my stress, and when I took a break I thought, okay I’m just going to have to learn how to grit my teeth and bear it, right, and I didn’t just mean, right, with urges, because I also thought that too with the urge to drink. I thought I was going to have grit my teeth and bear how I was feeling, like I was just going to have to accept that I was an insecure person and accept that I was an anxious person and a stressed out person and that was something I truly thought I was going to have to do, I was just going to have to accept that these were parts of my personality and now that I didn’t have alcohol as a way to cover it up or as a way to quickly change how I felt, you know, I was just going to have to accept these things and what I didn’t realize at that time was I thought that I by pouring myself a drink and making myself feel less anxious and less insecure and less stressed out, you know, I thought that I was helping myself and what I missed out on was that every time I turned to a drink to cover up how I was feeling or to feel differently, I missed out an opportunity to learn how to change how I felt on my own.

I didn’t think that that was a skill that the people had or something that you could learn to do and you will know if you have been listening to this podcast and you follow my work that this is definitely something that you can do. You can definitely learn to change how you feel and I just had no idea and I have no experience doing this because I was always walking into a networking event or walking into a party and feeling awkward or anxious and solving that by having a drink. So, I had no idea how to solve those feelings on my own because I had such a quick and easy fix available to me, and that’s what I think is so unexpected and also amazing, because off a sudden now that you don’t have this quick and easy fix, well now you get to do one or two things, you can either just say, well, this is just who I am and throw the towel in or you can start to learn tools that will help you change how you are feeling, will help you get to a place, right, get to those upsides that you thought drinking was giving you, so that you can learn how to be more relaxed, you can learn how to be more confident, you can learn how to be more at ease, but you can’t learn how to do those things when you are always turning to this quick and easy fix. So, solving the problem that my drinking was fixing, solving those problems on my own, that was a huge unexpected benefit.

And the third unexpected benefit and it goes back to the story that I told you at the very beginning of the show is about your confidence, and your confidence will sky rocket, it really will, and here’s why. Think about every time you’re not taking a risk. Every time in your life that you’re afraid of making a mistake, or you are afraid of putting yourself out there, or you’re afraid of doing something that is outside of your comfort zone. Now why are we so afraid of these things? Why are we afraid of taking risks of making mistakes of putting ourselves out there, why? Because we are afraid of how it will feel if we don’t succeed. How it will feel, right? We are afraid of the embarrassment, the shame, the humiliation, the worry, the fear, right. We are afraid of all these emotions that we think are going to come up if we don’t succeed, and so what happens is that it is just easier to play it safe, it’s easier not to take risks, it’s easier not to put yourself in positions where you don’t make mistakes. It’s easier not to put yourself out there because then you don’t have to worry about feeling these feelings, right?

This is so fascinating to me when I think about this now and I understand that every time I’m afraid to take a risk or every time I’m afraid to step outside of my comfort zone is because I’m afraid of how it’s going to make me feel. But here’s the thing and it connects back to the last piece that I was talking about, when you learn that you don’t need something outside of you to help you feel better, you don’t need something external to change how you feel, when you learn that you can handle feeling awkward and insecure and anxious and stressed and whatever it is, annoyed, frustrated, when you learn both that you can handle these feelings on your own without needing the help of something else and you learn that it’s possible for you to change how you feel which is all about the work that I do, when you learn these two things, guess what, you are not going to be as fearful of taking risks or making mistakes or putting yourself out there, because you are not going to be as fearful of how you will feel if you don’t succeed.

This to me is the very best part and it’s something that I just had no expectation of, I had no expectation that learning how not to rely on alcohol is a way to change how I feel and there’s a way to feel better was going to have this huge upside in confidence and it has for me and it also does for my clients. I mean this is the piece that I love the most because who doesn’t want to be more confident, who doesn’t want to feel more self-assured, who doesn’t want to feel like, yeah, I’ll take that risk, yeah, I’ll put myself out there, I’m willing to make a mistake. I mean that changes everything. And certainly for someone like me, I was not the person previously that went a construction and the noise of my construction site was causing me problems, I was not the person that would have just gotten up from her desk and walked out her front door and walked over to the construction site and asked to see the foreman without even thinking, without even hesitating. What would I have done is I would have hammed in hut, I would have stewed, I would have worried, I would have come up with lot of different scenarios about what might happen or what they might say or maybe they’ll get upset with me or I’ll sound unreasonable or stupid. I would have had these whole storyline in my head and I don’t now and I didn’t in that moment because I’m no longer in a place where I’m afraid how something is going to feel if I don’t succeed. Because I know that I can handle any emotion and that is how you get real confidence. That is how you put yourself out there and you’re willing o take risks, is when you are no longer fearing how you might feel if you don’t succeed and I have no idea that more confidence was one of the benefits that was awaiting me and that really is and that one is by far my most favorite.

So, just to do a quick recap of what we went through today. There are really amazing benefits, benefits that you probably have not thought about or have not been expecting if you take a break from drinking. Yes, you can feel physically better. Yes, you can get rid of embarrassment and regret and start beating yourself up, but you’ll also have more time in your life to do the things you want to do. You’ll also be able to solve the problems that you were using alcohol to solve, and for most people that’s negative feelings and you’ll also start to become more and more confident because confidence really is all about not being afraid of how might feel if you don’t succeed, if you’re always afraid of how you might feel if you don’t succeed, I’ll tell you, you will stay small, you’ll play safe, you’ll not take risks, but if you are not afraid of those feelings it’s a whole different world.

Okay, so that’s it for today. Let me know what you think. If you want to email me and if you have questions or you have ideas or topics you would like to hear me cover, just shoot me an email at podcast@rachelhart.com and to celebrate the launch of the show and to thank you all for listening. I am going to be giving away 10 copies of my e-book, Why Can’t I Drink Like Everyone Else. All you have to do is leave a review on iTunes and then head on over to my website [www.rachelhart.com/itunes][1] and let me know the title of your review and you’ll be entered to win and thanks for listening. I love doing this podcast even when it’s very very early in the morning. It’s actually kind of nice to check it off my list and still have it not even be 7:00 in the morning. Alright, thanks very much everyone.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Take a Break from Drinking. If you like what was offered in today’s show and want more, please come over to www.rachelhart.com where you can sign up for weekly updates to learn more about the tools that will help you take a break.

Enjoy the Show?