This month, August, I am going to be practicing abstinence from a series of pleasures. The definition of abstinence is “the practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something” and I have over indulged in Netflix, Alcohol, and Dining Out a little too much lately. Apart from the fact I love alliterations, ‘Abstinence August’ has such a great ring to it – I’m ready for a lifestyle shift. I need to create habits that allow myself to feel more in control when the world around me is in chaos. I want to strip myself of my normal comforts that are no longer serving me. I believe by practicing abstinence, I’ll in turn strengthen my creativity, productivity, and come closer to my ideal self by September.
So why am I choosing to abstain from Netflix, Alcohol, and Dining Out specifically? Well, let me explain…
I love Netflix! They create amazing television to binge and are an endless source of documentaries that fill my mind with new information. But it’s also incredibly addictive and suddenly when all I wanted to do was turn off my brain for thirty minutes, I’ve allowed an entire night to pass me by filled with stories. Instead of working on my own story and creating my own success, I have fallen into the celebration of other people’s dreams. Netflix is filled with great content to absorb, but I need to abstain from it as a form of mindless entertainment.
I’ve been wanting to draw, paint, and itch that creative scratch but never seem to find the time. Instead of watching Netflix, in August I plan to break out my markers and colored pencils. I will turn off my analytical brain, by turning on my creative inner child. I’ll just start playing more and allow the part of my brain which has been dormant to be stimulated again.
Also, the unfortunate thing about Netflix is it’s a two sensory media. A person needs to watch and listen to it. Unlike podcasts and music that only occupy your hearing. In August, I’ll dive deeper into my love for music and listen to classic storytelling in order to multi-task more, focusing my visual attention on different tasks.
I’m not a heavy drinker. At most, I drink three nights a week while hanging out with friends or celebrating the end to a long week, and it’s usually one (maybe two, rarely three) whiskey cocktail or a glass of wine. But I want to say goodbye to alcohol. First, I want to save money. Alcohol is such a stupid waste of money. One drink at a bar usually runs $10 dollars and even a descent bottle of wine to drink at home is $13 dollars. At the end of the month, I could spend anywhere between $30 -$120 dollars just on alcohol. I want to stop drinking money, and put those dollars towards a more renewable sense of joy, like a pretty dress or less credit card debt.
Also, I’ve noticed alcohol effects my mental state more adversely than I’d like. Lately, I find I’m more sensitive to alcohol than I have been in the past. The sensitivity I’m talking about isn’t when I’m actually drinking, but what happens the next day or following days. All of a sudden a switch will be flipped in my brain and I’m significantly more negative than I was just seconds before. It happens late at night, and it’s almost like my general tiredness triggers a massive depressive episode. I think I’d like to abstain from this, for at least a month. The cocktails aren’t worth it.
I’m planning on painting my nails or doing an at home facial to unwind instead of a glass of wine. Read a book or journal with some La Croix water to celebrate the end of a long week. As for hanging out with friends, I’m pushing myself to not use dinging out and drinks for social interactions.
I’m a lazy, particular, eater. I don’t like eating the same thing over and over again. I also don’t like cooking at the end of the day when I’m tired. Because of my eating and appetite quirks, I tend to dine out a lot. I also eat a lot of cheeseburgers and french fries. My bank account is really taxed over my bad eating habits, and I’m sort of over it. I also use food as a way to cope when stressed out or depressed.
July was a really hard month, and I stuffed my feelings with rich food and alcohol. Even in the midst of eating my feelings I knew it was bad, but I didn’t care. So I need abstinence August to help me hold myself accountable for coping with life’s stressors in a different way. When I want to throw my hands up in the air and say “f*ck it, I’m getting In and Out” – I’m going to go…”No, you are in the middle of abstinence August, go to the store and make yourself your own burger if you really want it or buy food to make food.”
I feel that forcing myself to go to the grocery store in itself will guide me to make better food choices overall. In the moments between going to the grocery store and cooking at home, I can cope with whatever is bringing me down. Plus. I’m thinking I will add on a 80/20 rule to eating this month, 80% plant based diet and 20% omnivore diet. We will see how that goes.
Also, I want to abstain from dining out because I feel it’s this default setting for spending time with friends and I want to get more creative. I want to plan picnics or grab coffee* and visit an art gallery. Make excursions with friends during the day that involve exploring a part of our city, and connect with them in a new environment. I know we can be more creative than dinner at a hip restaurant.
The best way to succeed at any habit or lifestyle change is to know yourself in order to set yourself up for success. I know myself pretty damn well and I don’t want to fail, so that means I have set up a few loopholes.
I can still rent DVD’s and watch movies. But watching something old school requires a bit of planning. You don’t get lost behind an endless supply of content like one does while streaming Netflix. There is something very finite about a DVD, and it helps control the start and the end of my movie watching time.
No loopholes – wait till September.
If someone else wants to treat me to a meal out, then that is perfectly fine. My aim is to shake up how I normally operate and to make more meals at home. Along with stopping myself from using dining out as a way to escape the world and ignore my feelings. I love food, and I want to make cooking a more meditative and loving experience in my home. I also I think coffee or tea is a low expense way of meeting up with people, so I’m letting that in the loophole.
Like I shared, July was sort of sucky month, and really 2016 has not been the easiest year. But I can’t let external events influence my happiness and wellbeing. My ability to put out love and light into the world comes from inside. I want to be a stronger, more creative and productive person. I want to make my dreams come true and cultivate the life I desire. I know it might sound silly, but I truly feel Netflix, alcohol, and dining out are holding me back from my best life. Abstinence August will give me the time I need to redirect my energy in different ways, so my default settings are not Netflix, alcohol, and dining out; instead it can be painting, sparkling water, and field trips.
Want to join me?
Comment something you can abstain from in August that will help you get closer to your ideal self!
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