“Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”
No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic. I had never passed out at a bar, thrown up in public, or even fallen asleep on the train home because of my drinking.
What concerns me is that the drinking culture seems pretty deeply engrained in my consciousness: that cue that it’s time to relax and celebrate a particularly pleasant day or, on the contrary, relieve tension and reduce stress.
More and more often, I can clearly recognise the emotional needs behind a drink or two: anxiety, sadness, guilt or anger. It helps me temporarily disconnect from unpleasant thoughts and feelings.
Research suggests that people often use alcohol as a coping response to stress: to improve positive affect or alter feelings of personal inadequacy.
And while alcohol affects each of us differently, its heavy consumption – even on a single occasion – can damage organs, weaken the immune system, interfere with healthy sleep and even increase the level of unpleasant emotions.
Also, research shows that hangovers are amplified with age, so a night of immoderate drinking hurts even more, when you’ve passed your thirties mark.
So, after a particularly painful “morning after”, I’ve decided to go booze-free for a month.
My goal? Start making conscious decisions in all parts of my life and learn how to actually address my stressors instead of numbing them – because by numbing the bad, I also numb the good.
Here are some of the signs I noticed that led me to the conclusion I want to give up booze and focus on my physical and psychological well-being instead.
1. Sleep Problems
Over the last few years, I’ve been struggling with insomnia. By noticing and prioritizing healthy sleeping patterns, I’ve learned that alcohol can interrupt our REM sleep and have us waking up feeling less than optimal.
I wake up tired, lethargic, have hard time focusing and, due to nausea and headache, I tend to skip my yoga classes (downward facing dog literally sounds like a nightmare right now).
3. Guilt And Shame
Stupid things I did or said, dumb text messages. Alcohol impairs inhibitions and clouds judgment. Cutting back on alcohol can help me feel more in control of my emotions.
4. Fear Of Judgement
I recently started noticing that I actually feel more confident without the influence of alcohol. In fact, I feel like the better version of myself. That’s how I realised I drink out of fear – fear of being judged as boring, awkward, or a loser.
5. Weight Gain
When we drink, our body stops metabolising other substances as efficiently, ultimately slowing down the metabolism over time. The result? A sure way to self-sabotaging any weight-loss plans.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity the no-booze challenge, here’s an idea: try it and share your experience in the comments below.