My Alcohol-Free Month

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I had heard of people giving up alcohol for a month, but had never tried it —or really felt the call to.  I wasn’t sure that doing so for just one month would bring any benefits. This year had me re-thinking this. 


Normally, I grapple with anxiety, and after a night out drinking I often find myself with an emotional hangover, or “shame-over”.  For me, it’s grogginess that is more mental than it is physical, and anxiety about what was said and how I was perceived the night before.  So to get away from all that I decided to give the booze-free lifestyle a try.


All of my unproductive weekend mornings disappeared.  I found my mood improved throughout the entire week because of it. There’s a complicated relationship among anxiety/depression, alcohol and sleep. People that suffer from these probably already have damaged circadian rhythms, and the presence of even a little alcohol may disrupt them even more.


My sleep quality was also greatly improved.  Circadian rhythms impact how the body reacts to alcohol, depending on the timing of alcohol consumption.  The more you drink, and the closer your drinking is to bedtime, the more it will affect your sleep.  Alcohol in your system when you go to bed changes sleep architecture, the natural motion of sleep through different stages. It can also lead to lighter, more unrestful sleep as the night continues, reduced sleep quality, and fatigue the next day.


I was forced to stop and think whether I wanted a drink when I would normally sip one down without a second thought. Was I just feeling excessively stressed out? Maybe a gym session solve this? Usually, cutting out the alcohol wasn’t a huge deal.


I lost 3 pounds.  This makes sense as even a mild intoxication increases the brain’s activity in the hypothalamus, making people more sensitive to the smell of food and more likely to chow down. This study even found that when women had two drinks, they ate thirty percent more food.


I felt like a bit of a buzzkill saying no.  My friends and family however, were chill about simply letting me hang out with my club soda, or glass of water without making me feel out of place.  I confess, this was one of the largest concerns I had going sober for thirty days. Would friends and family find the whole thing irritating? Would they temporarily stop inviting me to events? So it helped me realize one thing: I really like the people in my circles, and we don’t need alcohol as an aid to feel confident and enjoy their company.  


I will say when a friend offered me a fancy sparkling beverage at her home, I loved it.  I will be stocking up on these for friends that don’t drink now as I never realized how appreciated it was. 


I saved money.  Whether it’s a glass of prosecco while out, or a bottle of wine to take home, it doesn’t seem like much.  But by the time the end of the month rolled around, I had built up enough to be able to spend a little more on Christmas gifts than I had planned.


Maybe my skin is better? I don’t know to be honest I didn’t notice a difference, I take pretty good care of my skin… definitely wasn’t all the sudden “glowing” or anything like some other blogs have said.


I have decided that I will take some of this new knowledge with me, like checking with myself before deciding if I actually want a drink, trying not to drink too late into the night, and planning enjoyable outings that don’t revolve around booze. I may even return to doing this a few more times throughout the year.


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