4 things I learned when I cut out alcohol for 30 days.
Who doesn’t like alcohol? Ok a few of you maybe, but for the great majority of people it’s how we celebrate, relax, unwind, and get our social juices flowing at parties, get togethers, and weddings. Habitual drinking has a few downsides though aside from just the health repercussions. I know, I know, I was as bummed as you to hear this. I wondered how my life would change as a casual but habitual drinker (a few beers a few nights a week). It was with this in mind that I gave up alcohol for 30 days on 3 separate occasions to see what, if anything, would change for me. Here’s what I found.
1) I had more energy (No naps, not drained when I’d get home from work, I found myself acting differently-I was doing activities in places where I previously would have been “chilling”. Sure once or twice you can just write this off as anecdotal change in activity, but after 4 weeks of seeing a change like this, it’s likely not just placebo or coincidence). When a person hears ‘I have more energy’ usually the first things that comes to mind is a vision of a person under the effects of caffeine. This is not the type of “energy” to which I’m referring. The type of energy I’m referring to is more like the absence of fatigue that it is a caffeinated jolt. So adjust your expectations and look for things like, lowered “lunch lag” and “food Coma” periods, more activity when you get home from work, less sitting in front of the TV paralyzed with drowsiness, fewer poor eating decisions caused by fatigue. It will NOT be as though you never experience drowsiness again. You definitely will but the sharp edges of experiencing a drained mental state will definitely get rounded off.
2)I slept better. Actually significantly better. I didn’t wake up and find myself unable to go back to sleep around 3 am because my liver was processing toxins. I also didn’t wake up to pee as often which made my sleep cycles deeper and more restful. The importance of this on health cannot be overstated. Sleep is where your body creates many of the chemicals that have the largest effect on your physical and mental state. It’s also where your body gets a chance to repair and rejuvenate itself.
3) Because of this new absence of cyclical fatigue, I began to notice that over the course of a few weeks, I was developing a kind of momentum in my life. I was getting things done that pushed my life forward instead of just maintaining my existence. I was beginning to think about ways to grow forward instead of just getting through the week. Again, it was nothing dramatic just little things like running an extra errand at lunch or after work that added up to a larger effect after a few weeks.
4) Another insidious side effect of alcohol is that is ever so subtly taints you mood, which affects your perspective, which can create a negative and unhealthy internal dialogue. Specifically, when you’re irritable everything has greater potential to annoy you but more importantly, it stops you from approaching things from a place of empowerment instead lashing out, if only mentally, where you otherwise wouldn’t have. I know some of you are saying ‘bullshit, I don’t get drunk when I drink’. I’m not talking about drinking to excess, just getting a happy buzz a couple of times a week that engages the muscle relaxing effects of alcohol. Once you remove alcohol completely for 30 days, if you’re being honest, you’ll notice a greater levelness to your attitude. Little things will just roll by like a bump in the road. Alcohol is after all a poison.
If any of this sounds like you, go ahead be brave, and see if your life is any different when you change some of your habits around drinking. If it’s not, you won’t have any trouble finding a drinking support group out there.