From February 18 to April 5, 2015 (the Lenten season’s 46 days), I did not drink coffee or alcoholic beverages. I wasn’t so rigorous as to avoid caffeine entirely (I enjoyed an occasional cup of tea) or all mood-altering chemicals (I consumed sugar, which certainly counts), but my morning and evening consumption rituals were very much different.
I was pretty informal about my observations: simply noting in my journal when I noticed or felt something interesting. (For the next experiment, I’ll try to keep a more meticulous log.)
A few days in (Feb 21), I noticed that what I missed about alcohol wasn’t so much its chemical effects, but its symbolic significance:
During the workday, I catch myself sometimes thinking “Man, this is hard, I can’t wait to have a drink tonight.” Perhaps I never noticed before because the thought would come an go, without being interrupted by the follow-up “Damn, I can’t have a drink tonight.” But in many ways it’s easier not drinking. Before, I would be tortured around 4pm: should I have one of those beers in the office fridge, or not? Now, it’s not even worth thinking about. “Not for me” is a powerful thought. It clears up all sorts of ethical quandaries.
Two weeks in (March 5), things were a bit more difficult:
This was definite harder than the first week, not least because it was a rough week at work.
But just a few days later, I noticed some positive effects:
I have more energy in the afternoons (no coffee crash) and evening (no wine crash).
The following three weeks went pretty smoothly, and by day 46, I didn’t particularly crave coffee or alcohol. That said, upon completion of the experiment, I did go back to my morning coffee and a drink with dinner most evenings. But at least I had a greater appreciation of what they really meant to me, and their cost in energy.