There’s something trending right now and, for once, it may actually be a bandwagon worth jumping on. January is shaping up to be a dry-out month, meaning people have committed to not drinking for the next 31 days. Maybe it’s because people overindulged over the holidays, enjoying one (or two, or three) drinks too many at each and every holiday party, or perhaps it’s because the feeling of being hungover the next day is not something they’d care to experience again. Whatever the reason, January is often a time to reset, recharge, and do some detoxing. And doing so may help you avoid more than simply a queasy morning-after.
It’s actually the number one lifestyle change you could be making for the biggest impact to your health. In the short term, kicking your booze habit will make you more productive and focused; in the long term, less susceptible to diseases. I’m not an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination, but I did notice that a lot of my social outings over the last couple of months revolved around alcohol — celebratory drinks, girl’s night drinks, birthday drinks, art opening drinks… the list goes on. One drink can easily turn into 2 or 3, even with the best of intentions. Drinking has become ubiquitous with ‘being social,’ making many people feel the pressure to indulge.
I’ve taken the challenge and am currently on day 8 out of 31, in addition to working out every day. I would usually have a drink 1-3 times a week, and had my last one on New Year’s Eve. So far, I’m feeling really good!
I think it’s worth mentioning that, according to new data from the CDC, after controlling for age, the alcohol-induced death rate in 2014 reached 8.5 per 100,000 people, up from 7.1 in 1999 and 7 in 2006. These are some sobering numbers indeed.
I’m anticipating some immediate health benefits by going booze free for 30 days:
You know the saying, “drinking makes everything better”? Well, ask yourself that the day after. It’s no secret, when you’re not hungover you are much happier. It’s very rare to have enjoyed a hilarious drunken evening with friends without experiencing the evil symptoms of a hangover the next morning, whether it be headache, nausea, dehydration, or general malaise. Going 30 consecutive days without the boozy nights will do amazing things for your overall mood for the month. It’s also worth mentioning that, even if you don’t experience hangovers, your body body still suffers the consequences internally.
You might be missing out on some types of social engagements as a result of cutting out the booze, but you’ll also miss out on all those days spent recovering — days where you could be doing something really fun or productive. Waking up feeling good means you can go to that market you’ve been meaning to visit, do some organizing, catch up on emails, visit your family/friends, read a book, or hit the gym. The possibilities are endless! Also, since you might be turning down social outings knowing what the evening will turn into, you may find yourself thinking of ways to further your personal network and/or really deepen some relationships
Ever look at your face in the mirror the next morning after a night of drinking? Usually there are bags under your eyes (maybe some makeup from the night before?), your cheeks are puffy, and your skin is less than glowing. Our bodies are about 70% water, and a healthy body depends on that. Alcohol dehydrates us and sucks our energy. It also interferes with our brain’s communication pathways, and over time, deteriorates our heart and liver health.
It comes as no surprise that going to bars is costly, but you may be shocked at how much you’ll actually save by cutting it out altogether. Even when you go out to eat, getting an alcoholic beverage is pretty common. Not only does it make you more full faster, meaning you get to enjoy less of that delicious meal you’re paying for, but it also increases your bill (sometimes by a lot). You’ll almost instantly save some cash when you go hang out at someone’s house and just have to grab a couple of snacks!
Knowing you can walk into a social setting and not have to rely on booze to loosen or lighten you up is a great feeling and a huge confidence booster. You’d be surprised how many people think they can only have a good time when they are drinking. The self-esteem comes in when you stay true to yourself and don’t subordinate to the will of others. Think of all the conversations you will actually remember!
I know that when I get asked to go for a drink after work, it sets the tone for my entire evening. It’s hard to do that workout after a couple glasses of wine or want to go to that yoga class, cook dinner, or do my laundry. The late nights and late mornings all cut into your time, and heavy drinking dwindles your energy. If nothing else, taking a break from drinking for 30 days will give you great insight into yourself and other people. Also, I just heard a report on the radio that mentioned that when/if people do go back to drinking after 30 days of no booze, they tend to be much more cautious and conscious about how and when they do it.