10 Things that Happen When You Take a Break From Alcohol
By Karolina Rzadkowolska
Being sober curious is the new introspective. More and more people are choosing to quit drinking or take an extended break to discover how much better they will feel, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Alcohol Concern reports that over 5 million people partook in dry January last year. And once you start to bring awareness to your relationship to alcohol, it just doesn’t look the same ever again. Tons of people never go back to drinking and some only to drink very occasionally.
My break from alcohol was the best thing I have ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy or experienced so much growth—if it felt this good, why ever go back?
If you’ve decided to take a break to see what all the fuss is about, finally address those lingering concerns you have about your drinking habits, or just to feel healthier and more alive, welcome to an ever-growing club. If you value wellness, personal growth, and feeling happier and more confident, taking a break from alcohol may be the best thing you ever do. Here are the ten things that happen when you cut out the booze:
Your sleep improves
Is there anything worse than the quality of your sleep on nights you drink? How about waking up at 3 a.m. with a racing heart, mulling over your choices with gloom, and trying desperately to fall back asleep? Studies show that even one drink reduces our REM cycles from six cycles a night to two and fragments sleep, leaving you exhausted after drinking and your brain undernourished. But sober sleep is a dream—it’s like being at the bottom of the ocean with the waves gently rolling you into deep slumber. In contrast, sleep after drinking is like battling the sea in a tiny rowboat during a hurricane. Alcohol does a number on sleep, and taking a break can really restore your patterns and quality, though be patient, it can take a few weeks.
(Related post: The incredible health benefits of quitting drinking)
you fall in love with mornings
Isn’t it amazing to wake up without a hangover? To not wake up feeling fuzzy, exhausted or sick? Wake up instead feeling nourished and energetic and not tired and cranky? Mornings take on a new meaning when you don’t drink because you never regret the choices of the night before. Mornings expand, and it’s not a frantic race to get out of bed and get to work. You can wake up early, enjoy a cup of coffee before the house stirs, and do things that make you happy like meditate, workout, or write.
You learn to embrace momentary discomfort in favor of long-term contentment
We’ve been drinking since we were teenagers and often look to a drink to help us relax, socialize or even to relieve boredom. It’s easy to feel discomfort that we think will be relieved with a drink and so the neural associations that drinking gives us comfort are strong. But when you take a break, you learn to delay immediate gratification in favor of long-term contentment. Sure, a drink can sound good at 5 p.m., but how will I feel tomorrow morning if I indulge? Pretty horrible. Relieve those urges with mocktails, and you’ll be good.
You become more aware and present to your life
Sitting with feelings of the now, whether they be uncomfortable, beautiful, or just mundane is a practice of mindfulness. When you look into your relationship with alcohol and become aware of why and when you want to drink, you develop introspection and reflection into your daily life. You don’t escape the now with a drink and funnel your focus; you become present to the world around you. Add a dose of appreciation, wonder, and awe and the world will bless you back with outpours gratitude.
You feel healthier and more alive
We’ve all been there, a rough night totally sets you back in your health and fitness goals. From the empty calories, to the extra snacking or hangover foods, drinking each weekend always kept me stalling in feeling my best physically. But today I’m fitter and thinner than I have ever been because drinking messes with your metabolism in really sinister ways. I feel a pervasive sense of wellbeing, crave healthier foods and have much more motivation to workout.
(Related post: Why alcohol makes you gain weight)
You look better and are radiant
Drinking dehydrates your skin and makes it puffy and sallow while also yellowing your eyes. Couple this with poor quality sleep and weight gain and there’s no wonder that every before and after photo I’ve seen is shockingly beautiful and hopeful. Take a break from drinking and your skin becomes radiant, your eyes are bright and your demeanor shines.
You explore new hobbies and have new experiences
Not drinking every weekend and doing the same old unhealthy patterns? Well you get out of your comfort zone and start exploring activities that actually make you happy. In addition to picking old hobbies like dancing, writing, and running, I also tried completely new things, like paddleboard yoga and making videos and watching the sunrise. You also save a ton of money and can spend it on things that delight you, like a beautiful bouquet of flowers, instead of something that just makes you ill the next day.
Your self-esteem grows
You know what doesn’t grow your self-esteem? Failing to act according to your standards or values. And when you do value wellness or grace or integrity, drinking more than you wanted to is painfully out of alignment. I know how many rules I made for myself to keep my drinking low and feel healthy, and all those rules were just more chances to let myself down and erode my self-trust. When you consistently do what you set out to do, your self-esteem grows and you start having the faith that anything is possible.
You love yourself more
Imagine a day where you eat healthy nourishing foods, workout, do a nighttime self-care ritual, and go to sleep early in clean comfy sheets—you wake up the next day feeling taken care of by the past version of you. Loved. Can you imagine the opposite? Drinking a whole bottle of wine (when you know you’ll feel horrible the next day), not eating well, and passing out with a ton of unfinished to-dos? You wake up feeling disrespected and uncared for. It’s like the past version of you had no love and respect for the future you. Self-love is doing the things today that tomorrow you will be thankful for.
You have more confidence
How many people do you know take a break from alcohol? When have you ever not drank for this long? This is a huge deal! Get weeks and then months under your belt and you smash all of your self-limiting beliefs around alcohol (that you need it to have fun or to relax). And before you know it, you realize, if I can do this, what else can I do? What other limiting stories have I been telling myself all along that are just rubbish? The confidence you get from taking a break from alcohol spills over into all areas of your life. I’ve seen people start businesses, movements, write books, get the relationships they deserve, and so much more from this one change.
The hardest part? Getting started. Because you know deep down that life could be better and you could be living out your fullest potential. That guilt and frustration is painful. But life is all about challenging yourself to grow and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Drinking is the ULTIMATE comfort zone, and there’s probably not anytime that you can say, because I drank, I was able to accomplish this this and that. Alcohol stands in our way of living our best life and all it takes is a break to experiment and discover the richness of life without a mind-altering substance. Why not get started today?
If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create the alcohol-life of your dreams, click here for details on my online course.