Many of our #realworldathletes committed to doing a Dry January (no alcohol) and they are finishing up the last 2 days of their commitment!
During the month, we have had a few random conversations with them but wanted to have a broader conversation with all of you about the impact of alcohol on our overall health and well-being.
Taking a month off from drinking can help you step back and examine your relationship with alcohol.
You might learn you depend on it to manage stress or feel comfortable in social situations. You might discover you feel better and think more clearly when not drinking.
If you participated, think back over the month – when did you miss alcohol the most? Did you miss it at all? Were your perceived stress levels higher without it?
Sometimes stepping away from something (this could be anything), is the best way to figure out the role it's playing in your life and allow you to decide if you are comfortable with that role.
Let’s say you DID discover that you use alcohol as stress relief. What do you do with that information? Are you OK with alcohol filling this role? Do you want to develop healthier ways to manage your stress? What does your ideal relationship with alcohol look like?
Spend some time reflecting upon the month and some of these questions. There is no right or wrong answers, only data that can help you to make informed decisions.
In addition to the commonplace role of alcohol to help manage stress, there may be some other positives you notice while abstaining.
Here are the most common ones:
- Improved sleep quality and quantity and therefore improved daily energy levels. While alcohol is a sedative and may initially cause drowsiness, it will ruin the quality of your sleep by decreasing deep restorative sleep and increasing nighttime awakenings. This is especially true if you have alcohol within 2-3 hours of bedtime. (Check out your Whoop or Oura ring or Apple watch and you will VERY quickly make this association)
- Improved Skin / decreased fine lines / wrinkles. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dry out your skin and increase the appearance of fine lines. It’s the opposite of the fountain of youth.
- Weight loss. Alcohol provides empty calories and many times it comes along with sugary counterparts that make this even worse. Eliminating empty calories allows many to see the scale drop. Also, remember due to it being a diuretic it can also cause you to retain water trying to make up for what is lost, so many will lose that extra “bloated” weight when abstaining.
- More money in your wallet. Have you ever stepped back to consider how much money you spend buying alcohol each month? What else could you use that money for?
- Improved immune system. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
- Decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. This obviously isn’t one you will “feel” while doing Dry January, but it’s valid nonetheless. Chronic drinking increases the risk of both of these diseases.
If you completed Dry January, think back over the month, this list, and figure out what lessons you want to carry forward as you approach the rest of the year.
If you DIDN’T do a Dry January, maybe you can tackle this in a Dry February?
If the thought of doing it makes you uncomfortable, or even angry that we would suggest it -- consider that feedback as a nudge that maybe you SHOULD give it a try.