Whether you’re partial to a glass to unwind at the end of the day, letting loose at the weekends, or choosing a boozy accompaniment to your brunch with the girls, alcohol plays a part in many of our lives.
Right now, an incredible 4.2million of us are one week into giving up the booze for January as we look to reap the rewards that an alcohol-free life can bring. If you’re still going strong, congratulations! Hopefully, you’re already starting to feel the benefits. If however you’ve already fallen off the wagon, or are yet to commit, don’t worry. Start afresh from today with these 5 tips to remind you why it’s beneficial to take part in Dry January.
- Healthier Body: The Liver & Heart
We know that our favourite alcoholic beverage tastes great and relaxes us, washing our bodies and minds with a wave of relaxation as it takes the edge off the day or our problems. But what most of us don’t realise is the effects or extent of damage that alcohol has on our bodies.
We all know the liver’s main job is to remove chemicals and waste products from the blood, but many of us don’t realise that it is only capable of removing 80% – 90% of the alcohol from one standard drink per hour on average. I’m not sure many of us (myself included) average one drink per hour when we do choose to drink, so this statistic was a bit of a shock to me!
Working on overdrive to remove chemicals from our bloodstream, the liver can easily become damaged, leading to several disorders. But before you despair at the damage you may have caused, it’s important to remember that the liver is a regenerative organ, and can work to repair some of the damage done to it when given a break – the perfect opportunity with Dry January.
In addition, the risk of heart failure is nearly twice as high in heavy drinkers, which is classed as 14+ drinks per week. Initially, this sounds excessive, but if you’re sharing a bottle of wine with your other half a few nights a week and head out at the weekend, it easily adds up. Ultimately, giving your body a break from the toxins in alcohol is an investment in your health.
- Feeling Better: Energy, Mind & Sleep
In addition to giving your liver and heart a break, physical benefits from stopping drinking include better sleep, more energy and a sharper mind. While some benefits you can’t see or necessarily feel, others are more noticeable.
Think about it, if our bodies are preoccupied with cleaning up, repairing and restoring from the effects of alcohol, we surely can’t expect them to operate at optimal levels the following day. On the other hand, when our brains are clear from the effects of alcohol, we’re able to make quicker decisions, produce more physical and mental energy, as well as feel more driven to invest in our work, families, dreams and other projects.
When it comes to sleep, although a little tipple before bed can help us to drop off into the land of nod, our sleep is interrupted throughout the night as the booze releases a chemical that blocks our bodies’ natural ability to learn and restore memories (Alpha Activity vs. Delta Activity.)
- Look Better: Better Skin & Losing Weight
Alcohol is extremely high in empty calories, storing in our bodies as sugar until it eventually turns into fat. So, you could expect to lose a few pounds by simply stopping drinking and eating a balanced diet! This is a bonus, not only because of the reduction of high-carb hangover-foods but also as many of us take up additional exercise with our new-found energy and drive.
You can also enjoy younger and brighter skin thanks to your body being more hydrated and rested. We’ve just discussed the damage we can cause to our internal organs with excessive drinking, and from this damage comes a reduced ability to produce collagen, the essential protein that connects skin cells and strengthens the tissue. The result? Sagging skin and the appearance of ageing – nobody wants that!
Looking and feeling more youthful with brighter eyes to boot, you’re sure to enjoy these near benefits from Dry January within the first one or two weeks.
- Save Money: More To Invest in Your Health
A short but very sweet point to note is the amount of money you could save by stopping drinking. You’ve noticed how a few bottles of wine a week can quickly add up, let alone the confusion you feel checking your bank balance after a night out. ‘Did I REALLY spend that much?!’
Everyone’s drinking habits are different, so it would be great for you to do a quick calculation on how much you can save each week without drinking. How will you spend (or save) your extra money? Over the course of a few months, this can significantly add up to cover the cost of a gym membership, spa day or extra money in the bank.
- Addressing The Problems That Drinking May Be Covering
Last, and certainly by no means least, giving up alcohol for Dry January could be the key to the beginning of facing some hard truths.
Without realising it, a drink at night can be the distraction you need from thinking about tomorrow. Perhaps it’s a cover for no longer enjoying your job or maybe it takes the edge off a meeting you’ve been putting off. Perhaps the alcohol is a mask for how you feel about yourself or another relationship in your life. However this may be showing up for you, take time to sit with your feelings and address how you truly feel. Call on friends and family for support and try not to fall back into old habits looking for a nightcap to take the edge off.
It’s tough, but the feeling of self-worth and accomplishment you’ll have afterwards is totally worth it.
Those are my top 5 benefits from stopping drinking this January. Giving up alcohol is something I’ve been thinking about for the last few months and I’d love to know your thoughts on this.
Stay strong and remember that you’re human. If you slip up, you can always choose to start again.