What I Learned From Changing My Routine With Alcohol

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Eva Amurri shares what she has learned from changing her lifestyle with alcohol

I’ve learned over the years that Alcohol can be kind of a touchy subject. We’ve normalized it as a culture, and many people can have a very normal relationship with alcohol. But there are countless others who fall into other categories: People Who Shouldn’t Drink As Much As They Do, People Who Self-Medicate With Alcohol, Alcoholics, People Who Drink Out Of Boredom, People Who Drink For Celebration Only, the list goes on and on. I don’t think we generally give much thought to our relationship with alcohol unless it’s a problematic one.

I’ve always had a pretty “normal” relationship with alcohol. And by normal, I mean fairly middle-of-the-road. I didn’t drink much in High School, which for some areas is normal, and in other areas can be quite rare. College is where I started drinking socially, but most of my consumption was relegated to weekends, and aside from the occasional really bad hangover, I wasn’t having any adverse effects– health-wise, or emotionally. There were the emotional inconveniences, however. I’d always noticed that after a big night out I’d get more anxious than normal, and learned later in life that this can be a result of alcohol’s role as a depressant. After drinking more than I would have the morning after a sober evening, I’d find myself worrying about things. There would be about a day after a big night out where I felt much more vulnerable than I usually felt on any given day. This, of course, was alongside lots of other big life moments and changes that take place in your early twenties, so I never really examined it closely.

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After college, in those mid-twenties years, is when I drank the most. I was living in NYC after college, going out with friends 4 or 5 nights a week, and having a blast. Again, I wouldn’t have called the behavior atypical by any means, but I did notice that while I never felt that feeling of “needing” a drink, I also didn’t ever ask myself whether I actually wanted the drink in my hand or whether I was drinking it to be a part of what was going on around me. Part of the way I socialized was being at parties, trying out new bars and restaurants with my friends, and having a ton of fun dating. I was offered drinks in all of those atmospheres, and I always said yes. Why not? These were also the years when I developed a love and appreciation for great wines. I love learning about wine and the various processes, tasting wine and developing a taste for what makes certain varietals and years special. I definitely consider myself a Foodie, and food and wine go hand in hand in so many gourmand circles. Most, I’d say.

Then, I got married and started having kids. And, of course, my relationship with alcohol changed big time. From 2013 through 2020 I was pregnant four times and took major breaks from drinking. I definitely missed alcohol, but mostly I missed that feeling of being able to pour myself glasses and mix delicious cocktails and the ritual of it. My doctor at the time said I was able to have 1-2 glasses of wine a week, and I put all my energy into making sure those glasses were top-notch. I savored every sip. But I still felt so restricted. Restricted from letting loose, restricted from exploring something I had found a lot of joy in (certain foods AND alcohol taken out of my life for the larger part of six years), and restricted from that little thrill that comes from your first sip of a great drink after a long hard day.

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Cut to March 13th, 2020: the day we went into COVID-19 lockdown across the world, and the day that I was no longer pregnant, trying to get pregnant or miscarrying for the first time in over six years. The day Mateo was born! My body was my own again, but also, I was living in a global pandemic. I was fearful of the future, scared for the health of my family, and also at the tail end of a difficult and sad divorce. I was grieving and liberated all at the same time. And, like most people over the course of the next year, I became anxious and bored– in equal measure. I started looking forward to Cocktail Hour every night, making myself a fun drink or pouring myself a glass of wine after the kids were all in bed. Sweet reward! At first, it was one great drink, while I watched TV and fell asleep exhausted after the stress of the day. But over the next 6 months, that became 1-3 drinks per night. And I started becoming so tolerant of the alcohol that that fun little buzz I used to get off of one glass of wine didn’t even arrive after 3 anymore. The worst part was the mornings. I just felt foggy, crappy, and that old anxious feeling came creeping back again. I could identify logically that it was from the effects of the alcohol itself, but it still made me feel like crap. I was in this cycle, where I felt not-great through the entire day, and then looked forward to that glass of wine at 7:30 pm and the “me time” it provided me. The craziest part was that what I liked most about this routine was exactly that, the routine of it. I loved knowing that I was looking forward to something special just for me every day. I loved the ritual of grabbing my wine glass and opening the wine bottle. I looked forward to buying great bottles of wine and planning what I would pour to go with my dinner.

There were a couple of times where I thought to myself “it can’t be great to be drinking alcohol every single day, even if it’s not SO much alcohol. Even if I’m not getting “drunk”, this can’t be normal.” But then, I’d look around me and see other people drinking too. In the culture of Pandemic America, there were memes and media everywhere about passing the wine because reality is CRAY CRAY. If everyone was doing it, it had to be normal. There were a few times when I decided to take a week or two off of drinking, purely just to prove to myself that I could. And that went fine. “I checked that box”, I thought to myself. And then I’d go back to my little routine. Then about a month ago, I decided I really wanted to get my health together in a major way. I wanted to see a nutritionist about the exact supplements I should be taking at this phase of life, and exercising more regularly, and just generally feeling BETTER every day. And, obviously, first on that list was not drinking every night. It just didn’t make sense anymore. My goal was to reserve weekend time for alcohol consumption and to not drink Monday through Friday.

At first, it was hard. Not so much the lack of alcohol, but the fact that I really missed my ritual and that time in the day when my entire body could breathe a sigh of relief. I found myself wanting to do something with myself to mark the end of the workday and the start of that portion of the night that was all mine. So, I curated a beautiful collection of herbal teas with local honey. I started cozying up to a cup of tea in front of the television instead of wine. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it worked to fill that ritual void! I also noticed more and more how much better I started feeling during the week when I wasn’t drinking, as opposed to when I’d wake up on the weekends. Life with three kiddos doesn’t allow you much sleep, to begin with, but I found myself sleeping more soundly and waking up in a more positive state of mind during the week– even if I had been up in the middle of the night with a kid or two.

Another thing it did was to break me of the habit of falling into a cycle, any kind of cycle. I’ve realized through this experience of changing my habits with alcohol that it’s so important every once in a while to make sure we are wagging the tail and that the tail isn’t wagging us. Everything we do should feel like a choice that we’re making with intention, not something that we’re just doing because it’s what we did yesterday. It’s totally fun and fine to make the choice to ride that train, but it’s also important to know you can get off the train at any time.

Now, I love looking forward to my wine/cocktails on the weekends. It feels more special and more fun knowing it’s something I’m putting off until a time that works for me and my lifestyle. Will I ALWAYS keep alcohol reserved for weekends only? Probably not. Maybe? Who knows. I’m not putting any pressure on myself to make choices past what feels right. But I will say it feels really good to be making intentional choices with something that felt like an inevitability every day. It feels good to wake up feeling fresh and new every day. And it’s been amazing to hear more and more stories from people who are doing the same thing in this weird pandemic world. People who fell into a routine with alcohol or other coping mechanisms and then made a choice to cut back, or to stop completely. I like hearing THOSE stories too. Because there’s a place for “Wine Wednesdays”, and “Mom Juice” and all the other funny memes– and there’s also a place for feeling the right to your own normal and what works for you as an individual.

I’m curious if you have any personal experience with deciding to approach alcohol in a new way for you, and how that journey was or has been. Please comment below!

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Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2021 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for such an honest post! I have also cut my alcohol intake during the week as I finally recognized the extent it was negatively impacting my sleep. I don’t drink Sunday-Thursday so that I can start my work week fresh. Aside from better sleep, stronger workouts and a better attitude…losing a few extra pounds has also been a great side-effect! I am not a stickler and will grab a drink with a friend during the week but really try to keep it at one. Everyone has to find what works for them but this has been great for me!

    11.09.21 Reply
  2. fran says:

    I am 33 years old, and have two children, I always reserve the weekend to drink whatever I want, but a month ago I had a horrible weekend, I drank more than necessary, I passed drinks and I was with a horrible hangover, vomiting, intestinal problems, and I decided to be a teetotaler for what else I could, I felt that I hit rock bottom with alcohol, my birthday is approaching and even so I am not attracted to drinking, I feel calmer, less binge eating, I just need Give me time to exercise and I’ll be fine.

    11.09.21 Reply
  3. Katie says:

    As someone who drank MAYBE once a week pre-pandemic (prone to feeling so groggy the next morning, even after just a few sips), during lockdown my fiancé and I became determined to master the margarita and find the best craft beer in New England (spoiler, we did both, LOL). Before we knew it, it had been SIX straight weeks of having 1-2 drinks per night and we knew it needed to stop. It was essentially the same experience as yours – loved the routine, never drank to excess or really ever even got buzzed, but it was just something that got us through an otherwise boring and stressful time. Luckily it was a relatively short season and I’m grateful it didn’t spiral beyond my control as I know it can so easily for people. Quite the wild world we live in!

    11.09.21 Reply
  4. Beverly woods says:

    As they say change a habit with another habit and in days you’ll never miss it. I was never a big drinker. Drugs as a teen was my thing. But at 21 I met a full blown alcoholic. He was 22. I saw the dangers immediately this was in the 70s. Fast forward to having kids. Teens. I never promoted booze. Classmates do that. Teaching your offspring will b your next job. Because that alcohol gets in your brain and starts to control you. Kids don’t realize that. Great post.

    11.09.21 Reply
  5. Meaghan says:

    Alcoholism and addiction runs pretty deep in my family. I’ve known since 12 that I will need to be careful. I didn’t drink much until I married at 25 and I’ve rarely overindulged. For the past 10 years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with alcohol. Phases where I drink too much (which for me means a beer or glass of wine every night) and I begin to get concerned with being addicted. A couple of times I’ve just flat out stopped and not felt like drinking for about 3 months, but then I pick it back up. However, recently I just stopped wanting alcohol. I’ll drink socially but I stopped buying it for home and it’s pretty rare I drink. Now, I used to roll my eyes at the people who don’t drink at all but I think that’s wrapped up in my shame as i am quite familiar with the worst parts of alcohol. I feel fine now. If I do drink I feel pretty groggy, but I’m honestly not seeing the “clear skin, more energy, blah blah” that other people report. I don’t notice a difference, but maybe sleep is better without a glass of wine. I’m almost 6 months into separation from my husband, 2 months into a new job, studying for financial license and single momming to two girls. I’m tired and exhausted, but pretty content.

    11.09.21 Reply
  6. Correy says:

    My relationship with alcohol has changed quite a bit recently too. I was only having a glass a week, but felt all the same negative fees after… groggy, achy, anxious, etc.

    I have been doing teas and even just handfuls of fresh mint leaves in hot water. The hardest part is when people pour you something and you’re not drinking… I feel terrible. So I’m trying to be more proactive to tell folks.

    11.09.21 Reply
  7. Jenna says:

    As I get older alcohol just makes me feel bad the following day even after only one drink. I’ve been having fun experimenting with non alcoholic drinks. There are some good ones out there and it makes the week a little more fun without that not so fun feeling afterwards.

    11.09.21 Reply
  8. Tiffany Laurent says:

    I had the exact same head conversation. I canceled wine subscriptions and decided it was the routine and “reward” I was giving myself once my kids were put to bed. My me time. I don’t need the nightly pour or two. So I’ve gotten into just socially having alcohol. Which is rare. But with the holidays coming up, my sister, my mom and I have vowed to keep each other in check. … We’ll see. Lol!

    11.09.21 Reply
  9. Emily says:

    I relate to this SO MUCH and I know that so many others do as well. During the pandemic, alcohol was sometimes the one tiny light speck of light in a dark day. You are so right that we have been socialized to avoid considering our relationship with alcohol unless we are experiencing the most intense affects of addictions. We aren’t taught to interrogate the feeling that it also makes us fuzzy, anxious, sad or just exhausted. Thank you for talking about this!

    11.09.21 Reply
  10. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing! Highly recommend reading “Quit Like A Woman”- very interesting perspective on our culture and relationship with alcohol! Your post reminds me of it.

    11.09.21 Reply
  11. Sally says:

    This whole pandemic has brought with it some really strange times – mostly horrific but some

    My husband and I both found ourselves working from home in the same room of the house and instead of us wanting to kill each other, we actually got back to the early, really early days of banter and laughing, so unexpected but really wonderful- most days we would joke ‘what times the bar opening?!’ and why not? We had nowhere to be, no school run to do and we could roll out of bed 5 mins before we needed to be at our ‘desks’ and it, like you was a nice ritual that was light hearted moment in such dark heavy times.

    I knew things needed to change when my kids grandparents took them out (when lock down was over) and they wanted to buy mummy and daddy presents – I got a bottle of wine and daddy got beer.. I knew then that I didn’t want my kids thinking this was the ‘best’ thing they could buy us, it wasn’t appropriate for them to be gifting us alcohol and that we treated drinking in such a relaxed manner.

    I have now asked their grandparents not to have a glass of wine with lunch when they have my kids and that we only drink on the weekends and it’s seen as a treat – I don’t feel like I should be hiding drinking from them?! But I do know it shouldn’t be seen as a regular occurrence in front of them.

    Thanks for this post, it was really thought provoking xxx

    11.09.21 Reply
  12. Loretta says:

    I am really feeling this post… i’ve definitely questioned my consumption many times before. I am a mom of two, and i had my second maybe a week before you had Mateo and no one in the world will ever be able to relate to the life changing challenges a mother goes through when she gives birth to a child during a pandemic, especially right when it starts, until she goes through it. we belong to a very small group of women who have had to experience this. I went into full blown panic when everything shutdown, stores were empty, parks were closed. I had a 2.5 year old and a newborn baby and we were in a state of pure unknown. As soon as i could start drinking again i did. it’s been about 1.5 years since then. i’ve always been a ‘drinker’, my husband and i enjoy beer and wine basically every night. but i know what it’s like to keep upping that need for more cause 1, 2, 3 glasses isn’t doing it anymore. i could easily take down a super light bottle of sauvignon blanc in one night by myself. and then i never sleep well and when the morning comes i feel like crap. my biggest motivation for cutting back on alcohol is for weight loss cause i know how much alcohol plays a role in weight. i am so into the evening cup of delicious herbal tea! that’s the best thing (that or sparkling water in a nice wine glass) to curb that need for wine or a cocktail. it’s something to look forward to. if i can keep that goal of losing weight and keeping it off, in the front of my mind, it makes it easier.

    11.09.21 Reply
  13. Aileen says:

    I relate to this post so much. For the first three months of lockdown I had 1-2 drinks pretty much every night. I was anxious, not sleeping properly, feeling groggy but I put it down to the stress of a pandemic. Then I started to feel my liver hurting and my health was just generally off. I stopped drinking completely to see if it would help and it did make a difference. After a few weeks I wasn’t missing the ritual quite as much and decided to see how long I could go before I wanted a glass of wine. 7 months later I had some wine at Christmas and felt the same effects again in my body so decided my health had to come first and went teetotal. But I really missed the social feeling is sitting down with a glass of wine at the weekend. Luckily I think a lot of people have been doing the same as the range of non alcoholic wines and spirits available now is fantastic. I’ve found a couple of delicious alcohol free gin and tonics and am happily exploring alcohol free wines. I feel the conversation has moved on and you don’t have to explain why you are not having a drink tonight. Now whenever I go round to friends or family they have one of my alcohol free fav waiting for me and a soft drink so I can choose what I feel like. My health has definitely improved and my insomnia and anxiety have definitely lessened. Find what works for you, that’s what matters.

    11.09.21 Reply
  14. Laura says:

    Thank you for normalizing not drinking during the week days with this post! I grew up in an Asian household where alcohol wasn’t consumed Monday-Friday but rather at dinner parties and barbecues on Saturday and Sunday so I always thought it was normal not to drink during the week until I noticed in my late teens/early twenties that all of my American friends drank throughout the week.

    At first I assumed that maybe my parents were still in an immigrant mentality and hadn’t caught up with the times of daily Happy Hours but as I enter my late twenties, I find myself gravitating towards their habits bc I’d prefer to be sober during the work week than wake up groggy for work the next day due to drinking the night before.

    11.09.21 Reply
  15. Lindsy says:

    Thank you for this post! I honestly thought that I was alone in this exact feeling/routine. I’ve started drinking sparkling water out of a wine glass and it feels like I haven’t changed my “ritual” and I’m far more hydrated. Wine feels more special on the weekends and the thought of suffering through another hangover makes me cringe. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    11.09.21 Reply
  16. Julianne says:

    Thank you, for normalizing this, talking about it and creating this platform. A goal of mine that I’m struggling with. So appreciate this dialogue.

    11.09.21 Reply
  17. Zohreh says:

    I have a “spritzer” as my nightly ritual. Seltzer, splash of cranberry juice, and a slice of fresh lime. It’s so delicious and I look forward to it at the end of my day. I no longer keep alcohol in the house and reserve it for special occasions and dinners out. I feel better about my health and my ability to cope in other ways.

    11.09.21 Reply
  18. Jen says:

    Doing the same-ish! One recent revelation and thought I keep having is that I love eating ice cream, sweets & potato chips but I make a choice when I eat those things (eat on occasion) and I don’t go eating the entire container/carton/bag. Not that I haven’t ever or won’t ever again 😉 So same should go with alcohol- wine is my go to. It is quite logical and helps when thoughts start creeping up about having a glass or two when I really shouldn’t. Cheers to feeling your best (currently sipping herbal tea before bed)!

    11.09.21 Reply
  19. Glenda says:

    Eva, such an honest post. Thank you!
    I don’t drink wine BC it makes me sleepy. I’ll do a margarita, a Moscow mule or pina colada for special occasions or when on vacation.

    11.10.21 Reply
  20. Natalie says:

    Eva, one of my favorite blog posts to date. Thank you for always being so open and authentic. I re-examined my relationship with alcohol this summer after completing Whole30 for the second time. Day 31 came and I could drink again, except the desire wasn’t there. I found myself occasionally opening a seltzer at home and drinking maybe 1/4 of it. Or pouring a glass of wine only to drink half of it. I decided it was ridiculous to continue to buy alcohol to keep in the house if I had no desire to drink it. For me, it’s a completely social now. I don’t drink at home anymore, or at least in this season, and I don’t miss it one bit. I grew up in wine country and appreciate fine wine just like you…and I look forward to enjoying amazing wines (or cocktails) when dining out, without any pressure of a monthly subscription or membership (not that there’s anything wrong with them, they just aren’t right for me). Being very intentional with my consumption has brought me so much peace, and much better sleep. What a beautiful lesson in mindfulness of self and a gift we really have given to ourselves in just being present with our current needs. Thank you for allowing us into this conversation, and again for your genuineness. A reader couldn’t ask for more.

    11.10.21 Reply
  21. Amy says:

    While I barely drink anymore, for years I had a job that required entertaining clients almost every night of the week. After a particularly hectic period, I realized I couldn’t remember the last day I hadn’t had at least one drink so I started a system where three days out of every seven I would not drink at all. It was simple but helped me keep myself in check and I found that, more often than not, I drank far less overall.

    11.10.21 Reply
  22. Jess says:

    I absolutely love this sentiment. I have traditionally drank less than my peers ever since I was old enough to do so – and always felt like people had a hard time accepting that. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE a well-picked bottle of wine. But I’ve never enjoyed the anxiety I have after over-indulging. So I really try not to. I try to save for weekends and special occasions with my hubs and friends/family. Doesn’t always work out, but hey – I try!

    One of my favorite things to drink on weeknights when I’m craving a “ritual” so to speak, is Kombucha. It’s flavorful, fizzy, colorful, healthy, and kind of fancy! And yes, I’ve put it in a wine glass before 😉 happy health, all!

    11.10.21 Reply
    • BC says:

      Great comment! I do the same but I’ve also started drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice mixed with rooibos tea, which gives it a beautiful pink colour. I also feel like it’s a more ‘grownup’ drink when I drink it from a wine or cocktail glass!

      11.11.21 Reply
  23. Kissy says:

    Great topic, Eva! My Husband had his last drink on December 31, 2019. He is an all or nothing person and decided then that drinking didn’t serve him well. I, on the other hand, liked my cocktail or glass of wine 2-3 nights a week, and saw nothing wrong with continuing, especially since he said he didn’t mind. When the pandemic hit, my intake went up a bit, but not much. Maybe 3-4 nights. And like you said, everywhere I looked other moms were having that same nightly ritual drink to reward ourselves for getting through the day of home schooling or whatever crazy pandemic stuff we were dealing with. But I started to notice over time that wine was causing me to get a headache or become hungover almost right away. So I cut out wine, and switched over to vodka cocktails. That worked for a few months, and then I noticed how much more rested my husband seemed in the morning than I did. And my kids had been sleeping through the night for years, so I couldn’t blame them for my exhaustion. In July 2021, I was sitting around a fire pit with my friends enjoying my drink. The next morning I woke up feeling so horrible- and I was done. It was hard at first not having that drink to look forward to, the beautiful ritual of it, but I had to put my health first. This blog is so timely because Saturday night my husband and I were out with friends and I ordered a glass of wine. I don’t know why- I just wanted to. The wine glasses at the table next to me looked beautiful, it was a chilly night, and I just asked for one. But when it came and I took the first sip, I immediately knew I wouldn’t have another sip. It hit my stomach and I felt gross. Luckily we have found other ways to unwind, something that is becoming more and more mainstream and make us both feel giddy and happy when we have some. So we’re not sober, but we don’t drink. And it’s been wonderful.

    11.10.21 Reply
  24. Salma Mohsin says:

    Timely topic, I’m a physician and “holiday heart” (ie Atrial fibrillation) is real and more common among those who drink alcohol more ‘regularly’. I see it this time of the year quite a bit. Another reason to cut back on alcohol use!

    11.16.21 Reply