With the New Year comes the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions, and this year we have decided to tackle a big one: to go alcohol-free for a year! After all, we’re both committed to a healthy lifestyle, so why not a commitment to sobriety as part of that…?
Studies show that anyone will see the benefits of not drinking alcohol in just a few days. And with the first month out of the way, not drinking – or keeping your drinking to a minimum – is much easier. To keep ourselves motivated and committed we investigated the benefits of sobriety. Here are 14 that we found!
When a group of 14 New Scientist magazine staffers got their medical results back after just five weeks off the booze, they discovered that they hadn’t only reduced their love handles. Their blood-work showed that they’d lowered their cholesterol levels by an average of 5%, their blood glucose by 16% percent, and their liver fat by 15%. The great news in all this? Any damage caused by drinking is reversed the longer you stay off the sauce.
Alcohol is a diuretic (makes you want to pee), which has a dehydrating effect, and this can affect the suppleness of your skin. The effect of alcohol is most noticeably bad on your face. But after just a few days of abstinence, you’ll notice your skin looks and feels more hydrated (and you should have a more youthful appearance). Other skin conditions such as dandruff, eczema or rosacea may also improve.
Your liver is the most complex organ in your body, performing over 500 vital functions. Stop alcohol intake, and your liver will start to repair itself in as little as two months. You’ll notice a difference in your skin and even your vision. Plus, with a healthier liver many people report that their mood and outlook on life is better.
Alcohol contains calories, mostly in the form of carbohydrates. A beer, glass of wine or a cocktail packs about 150 calories. But they’re ‘empty calories’ and offer you next-to-nothing in the way of nutrition. If you cut out the drinking and don’t replace the alcohol another source of empty calories (e.g. soft drinks), chances are you’ll start to lose weight without much effort (when those 14 staff members of New Scientist magazine decided to cut out the booze for 5 weeks, on average they lost 2% of their body weight).
Lower your cancer risk
By quitting drinking, you’ll lower your risk of developing several cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute (USA), alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, liver, breast, colon, and rectum – and the risk increases the more you drink.
Better quality sleep
While alcohol may help people fall asleep more quickly and increase the amount of deep sleep in the first half of the night, this is offset by disturbances in the second half of the night. It can also lead to the rebound effect: wide awake at 4am.This disrupted sleep cycle can leave you feeling tired the next day. Moreover, alcohol can make you snore loudly (not good for relationships) and even increase your chances of sleep-walking. If you want proper, restorative sleep, knock off the booze!
Once you quit drinking that ‘foggy’ feeling in your brain will slowly go away. If you’ve been a regular drinker for many years, you’ll regain that wonderful feeling of being able to think clearly and deeply. In fact, studies show concentration can increase by as much as 18%, and your memory will also improve.
No more hangovers
Avoid a night on the tiles and you’ll wake up sober, free of throbbing headaches, the dry horrors and nausea. Imagine bouncing out of bed, full of energy and zest, ready to make the most of your day. Bring it on!
You’ll feel better
Long-term, or even just one night on the sauce, can have a debilitating effect on your body and well-being. Commit to sobriety, and you’ll be surprised just how good you feel in just a matter of days, with a spring in your step.
People will tell you how much better you look
Friends, family and co-workers might not know the reason, but they’ll notice how much healthier you look. And that will give your confidence a real boost.
Relationships will be better
Alcohol-fuelled arguments and wild mood swings will be a thing of the past. Imagine a renewed, happier relationship with your partner or spouse… or the pride your children have for the ‘new, happier you’.
Your sex life will improve
You bet it will! Every aspect of your love life will be better, stronger and deeper. Without alcohol in the way, you’ll be more passionate, leading to a more fulfilling experience for you both – and who doesn’t want that?
Most of all, you’ll be happier
You’ll feel stronger and healthier, sleep better, have more energy, look better, enjoy better relationships, have better sex, have more money and have a renewed optimistic outlook on life. Plus, research also shows endorphins, serotonin, and other positive chemicals are released more often throughout the day when we don’t consume alcohol. The bottom line? You’ll be a HAPPIER you, and you’ll feel you can do so much more with your life. The question is, are you up to the challenge? Why not try it, even if it’s just for a month?
Tanika Tikaram – Twist in my Sobriety