New year‘s eve was again, let‘s say, an intense night. In total it wasn‘t too crazy, but my late-night activities left their marks on the next day. I was invited to the house of my partner's colleague, we gathered with a bunch of people and enjoyed a multiple-course meal. And of course, lots of alcohol. An undefinable mix of wine and vodka. Well, you may know the drill.
After waking up with having a heck of a hangover (well, it doesn‘t get easier to deal with those mornings when being 31), I decided to start my year in a healthy way. As anyways planning to go to Thailand for 3 weeks, how about quitting alcohol (& anything else which might be defined as "unhealthy“) for the whole month of January? Couldn‘t be that hard right? Right. It wasn‘t.
During the course of 4 weeks, I stopped drinking alcohol and felt pretty damn good. Ok, that wasn‘t a surprise. I mean, of course, it feels good to stay sober and not experience any form of a hangover. But something interesting happened after those 4 weeks. Staying away from booze made me feel even so good that I just kept going. For about 9,5 months.
During that time certain things have been observed when stop drinking alcohol, and here‘s what:
Even when you think "I only drink once a week“ or "I only drink one glass at a time“, alcohol changes you. It definitely makes you happier, a bit more relaxed but at the same time more moody the days after. You get quickly tense or fast annoyed? You’ve perhaps been drinking the night before. By quit drinking, you stay more in balance, mentally and physically.
Being more productive
Instead of laying in bed the next morning only craving food and watching a movie on Netflix, you can get up and actually be productive. It's possible to go to the gym or even clean the house as you're feeling perfectly fine. In case you went during the week out for an after-work drink, you're also way more focussed the day after at your job without this slightly shimmery view or those little headaches.
Those hangover cravings. Who doesn’t know them? The ones where your body is in desperate need of lots of fat, carbs and sugar. If you cannot eat it all cause it‘s too greasy, then it‘s about right. We crave for the morning-after-pizza because we produce galanin in our body which in return drives us to eat fatty food. By staying away from alcohol, we also aren't in desperate need of eating the unhealthy stuff and stay in our regular diet.
When being under the influence of alcohol, interesting things happen. Like acting "out of control“ or suddenly becoming a smoker. Yes, those "party-smokers“ mostly start to smoke the cigarette because of the fun fact of being drunk. Alcohol also leads to other substances and their abuse. In general, the chain of unhealthy reactions is stopped by leaving the booze out.
Spending less money
Alcohol is a luxury. A bottle of wine costs more than a self-cooked meal and a drink in a bar or club is emptying your pockets quicker than you think. Further note: don‘t make the mistake to buy a sugary drink instead when meeting others, just in order to drink something. If it‘s only water that you want, go for it.
More energy when going out
Alcohol makes you, me and everyone else pretty tired. In the beginning, it may be even giving you a rush, but interestingly enough it creates quick laziness besides increasing your drinking intake. I've tried partying in a club staying entirely sober and quite frankly, I was dancing non-stop. Believe me, it was a blast.
More real friends
Yep, some people are more the party or drinking kind of companions. You stop doing that, and bam, those friendships aren‘t really existent anymore. And you know what, that‘s okay. When friendships are based on toxic grounds like only partying or gossiping about others, then it‘s anyways better to stay away from them. And please resist the peer-pressure of people who are like "Come on, don't be boring. Just one drink". They don't know it better, yet it's up to you to spend time with them. Or also not.
No micro-hangovers anymore
Even a glass of wine is enough to get you a slight headache. Mostly it‘s because of the dehydration, as alcohol causes the removal of fluids from your body. Nevertheless, the pounding head is existent and not going anywhere without perhaps taking pain killers or being smart enough to drink lots of water.
Overall I never forced myself and said "I‘m not allowed to drink“ or similar, stop drinking alcohol just felt right. After those 9,5 months, I had again a few drinks on my birthday. But when I decided to drink again, it was a thoughtful choice and not because of a culturally constructed norm forced upon me or my for me pretty normal routine of having a drink or two in the evening.
Start reflecting upon your behavior and if you really like to drink or if you think that you have to do it because it‘s a social thing to do. Cause if you feel obliged or perhaps addicted rather than choosing on your own, consider a break once in a while or try out a month without alcohol. January seems like a good month to start. Anyways, it's your choice.
Text by Bernak Kharabi
Preview image by The Printable Concept