Shake it: Music, Moving, and Quitting Booze


I started spending more time listening to music when I stopped drinking. I think there are a few reasons for this, probably some I still don’t even understand. One reason I'm sure of is that I've been more active than before. Listening to Spotify is something I do when I walk or go to the gym. 

Another reason is that I seem to be more sensitive to music's power, less numb. For example, I went to a cooking class about making tortillas and tacos shortly after I stopped drinking. The chef brought a musician friend who did a couple of improvised performances during the workshop. One was on a drum that he had made, and the other was on the mbira, a small african instrument also known as a thumb piano. Both times he played, I nearly cried. Music moved me to tears—in a taco making workshop. 

But mostly it is not live music I'm listening to. It's internet-based music. My sister and I swapped playlists stacked with girl-power anthems and confidence-boosting pop. We both listened a lot at the gym, where we broke a sweat working out on cardio machines (albeit in different states), burned off tons of stress and built up our energy stores. 

There are three “Shake It” songs I listened too a lot during my first 100 days of not drinking that for me underscore the importance of music and moving when you are transitioning off alcohol. They are:

• Shake it Out, Florence and the Machine

• Shake it Off, Mariah Carey

• Shake it Off, Taylor Swift

Shake it Out is especially powerful to me because of its lyrics. Like all great pop songs, I feel like it’s speaking directly to me. It feels like this song is somehow about me and this thing with my drinking. Mariah’s Shake it Off is really a fun throwback to the 90s and it makes me feel young. Taylor’s Shake if Off is a pretty silly song (like a lot of my favorites) but I challenge you not to run faster while you’re listening to it. 

What music and moving have in common is both shift my energy. I do yoga and see an acupuncturist: I believe that there are energy channels in our bodies that contribute to how we think and feel. Music directly influences my emotional energy, enhancing my mood and uplifting my spirits. Moving changes my physical energy, easing stiffness and tension and giving me more verve to to get up and go. 

Having music and movement in your self-care toolbox is important all the time, but if you are trying to do something like not drink, this goes doubles. 

Alcohol changes your energy too, and it does so immediately. It requires almost no effort. A glass of wine can be like flipping a switch to turn off bad feelings or shut down stress—temporarily. 

When you take that off the table for yourself, you need to have other switches to flip, even if the new switches require a bit more effort to turn on. Music is easier than moving I will admit, but sometimes one can lead the another. Here’s a good 7-minute yoga workout I like doing for a quick energy makeover right beside my desk.

And here are some Spotify playlists I made that have been powering me through life after alcohol. Maybe they'll make you want to move, too. 

Dry July

Can you feel the love?

My religion is you

It’s a thief in the night

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day



Ruth K