The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

‘I’ve stopped using alcohol to self-soothe’

Louise Chunn, 64, founder of Well Doing, welldoing.org

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G‘I am conscious of how differentl­y it affects me now I’m over 60’

rowing up I remember when my parents got to the end of the working day they had a drink. It’s what you did – and it’s what I did, too, for years and years. But a number of things have made me change.

When my mother died in spring 2018 I started drinking every evening to feel better. It didn’t work, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to stop. Whenever I was going through difficult things in my life it was just a real punch to realise that she wasn’t there to have conversati­ons with on the phone. Drinking from mum’s wine glasses made me feel closer to her. Of course the great truth about drinking, for all its fun potential, is that it doesn’t cheer you up when you’re feeling sad. In fact it wakes you up in the middle of the night, feeling sadder.

When Covid hit, drinking would be the one thing to make up for the fact that we were locked away and couldn’t socialise. It was my treat. But for the past four or five months I have only drunk alcohol Friday to Sunday – and then not much.

I am conscious of how differentl­y it affects me now I’m over 60. It really doesn’t metabolise well. It doesn’t taste or feel as great. The headaches and the waking in the middle of the night just get tiresome. But also running a company to match people with therapists means I’m really aware that alcohol often comes up in people’s reasons for seeking therapy, as it’s often used as a way of getting through things.

Another factor has been wanting to grow older without becoming decrepit, red-faced and jowly. I don’t want my tummy to get any bigger. I did a Couch to 5K run before Christmas, following the programme at the same time as people all over the country. It made me so much more positive about everything and was a revelation. In order to get up to run 5k before you start work, there’s no way you can drink the night before. So that was a powerful motivator.

I need to be sharp to run the business and on days when I run in the morning I’m just much more “on it”. It’s a relief to discover that there are so many other buzzes. Once you actually wake up to and experience them, you kind of put alcohol in its place.

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