Sunday, January 26, 2020

Dry January


For anyone who has checked out my book suggestions for this month,  you know that they all related to the topic of alcohol. A topic inspired by what is now know as Dry January,  a public health campaign, started in the UK, encouraging people to abstain from alcohol for the month of January.  The idea has now spread worldwide and many people choose to take a break from alcohol during this period.

If you missed dry January, not a problem.  If you google it,  there are alcohol free campaigns, put on, almost every month, by a variety of organizations.  

Why is this trend becoming more and more popular?  

Alcohol has become a huge part of our culture,  80% of Canadians drink alcohol.  And while there are many articles circulating that endorse the benefits of alcohol,  more and more studies are showing just how harmful it can be to our health.  

"The best available current evidence suggests that consumption of alcohol (chemically known as ethanol) does not improve health. Previous assertions that low or moderate consumption of alcohol improved health have been deprecated by more careful and complete meta-analysis." Wikipedia

Now, my intention in writing this blog is not to encourage everyone to completely stop drinking. But I am encouraging all of us to start applying our critical thinking skills to this idea that alcohol and life are almost synonymous.  

You know what I mean:
Party = alcohol, dinner out = alcohol, weddings = alcohol, graduation = alcohol, fun = alcohol, funeral = alcohol, stress = alcohol, relaxation = alcohol... I could go on indefinitely. 

What I am suggesting is that we look at our own relationship with alcohol and really get brutally honest about wether it is enhancing our lives or getting in the way of our "Best Life?".  I know for a fact that there are many people out there, who are quietly and shamefully worrying about their alcohol consumption, and others who are simply curious about whether it is getting in the way of reaching their goals.  

Damselfly Transformations Self-Care Model
When you think about it, we live in a world where "not drinking" is "not normal."  I don't know about you but that feels really odd to me...but maybe it's just me.

So for the sake of playing the devil's advocate, today, I am going to present you with the benefits of eliminating alcohol form your life....at least for a given period of time.

Since one of my areas of expertise as a life coach is Self-care, I will be doing that from the perspective of my Self-Care Model.

Now, I have added some secondary sources to this list of benefits but if you are interested in learning more, please either contact me directly or join me in the "28 Day Alcohol Free Inquiry".

Physical:
  • Better sleep.
  • Easier weight loss.
  • Increased motivation for exercising and maintaining healthy eating habits.
  • Increased clarity, allowing us to make better decisions when it comes to our over all health.
  • Increase in libido and quality of intimacy.
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression.
There are many reasons why drinking can slow down weight loss.  One, it can lead to an increase in appetite both during and after drinking.  This is due to fluctuating hormone levels as well as decreased liver function.  Anyone, who drinks regularly or more then what is recommended, can be sabotaging their weight loss efforts without realizing it.  For more on this check out the following podcast by Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind.

Annie Grace - Podcast - Alcohol Can Make You Fat

Mental:
  • Increased clarity and cognitive function.
  • Increased motivation and ability to make productive, life-enhancing choices.
  • Increased ability for developing mindfulness and self-awareness practices.
  • Increased motivation for learning and growing.
Short term and long term use of alcohol, impairs proper functioning of the prefrontal-cortex, which is the part of the brain that allows us to make informed choices and decisions.  Alcohol use, can also make you prone to emotional reactivity.  It is not rare for individuals to see a substantial increase in decision making and emotional intelligence skills after just one month without alcohol.
Social:
  • Stronger more authentic connections with others.
  • Increased ability for empathy and compassion.
  • Increased motivation for connecting with new people and social situations.
  • Increased ability for conflict resolution and problem-solving.
  • Increased intimacy.
Many people turn to alcohol in social situation in order to take the edge off, relax and feel more laid back.  The truth is that alcohol numbs are senses.  Numbing our senses, actually disconnects us from others because we are less able to read social cues and more likely to behave from a place of emotional reactivity.

How To Socialize Without Alcohol

Spiritual:
  • Increased ability and motivation to align our behaviour and goals with our core values.
  • Increased ability to identify those core values.
  • Increased ability and motivation to find purpose and meaning in our lives.
Have you ever realized, after a night of drinking, that you had done something that went against your core values and beliefs. (or maybe someone reminded you because you blacked it out)  Have you ever used alcohol in order to feel numb enough to do something you otherwise would not have done?  We will often jokingly, blame the alcohol, and say it's no big deal, but in the end, we often feel a strong cognitive dissonance concerning our alcohol induced behaviour.  That, it my opinion, is worth looking into. 

Financial:
  • Increased motivation and time to focus on financial goals.
  • Increase in ability to prioritize spending.
  • And obviously, the money spent on alcohol can be spent elsewhere.
If your drinking a bottle of wine a week, you are spending anywhere between 12$ to 30$ a week, which adds up to 48$ to 120$ a month.  Might not seem like much, but if you're drinking more then that or drinking a more expensive type of alcohol, it can add up.  The question to ask is "Would spending the money elsewhere increase my quality of life?"
Watch the following video and notice what people are saying when justifying the amount they spend on alcohol.  Many of them mention, that it allows them to have fun and spend time with friends.
My question would be...why can't they hang out with friends and have fun without spending 300$ on drinks??  Just a thought!


Emotional:
  • Increased ability to develop strong emotional intelligence competencies and skills.
  • Increased ability to manage emotions, recognize emotions and work through challenges.
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression.
  • Increased ability to find pleasure through other activities such as hobbies, creative projects, reading...etc.
When we drink our brain's reward circuits are flooded with dopamine.  This creates the high we are reaching for when we reach for a drink.  Unfortunately, when this effect wears off, it causes a rapid decrease in dopamine, leaving us feeling depressed and miserable, motivating us to have another drink.  This is what can lead to addiction and the jury is still out on who is actually more prone to this then others.  What we do no for sure is that alcohol is an addictive substance.  
Also, when we drink regularly, our brain adapts to this strong surge in dopamine.  This actually, over time, decreases our ability to find pleasure in other activities other then drinking.  That's why at some point, our brain might give us a very strong message that it's a better idea to stay home and drink instead of going for a walk on the beach with a friend.  

This Naked Mind - Dopamine and alcohol

You might be thinking....really?  come on!!!  ALL those benefits from not drinking?
Yes....100%.
One: I've done quite a bit of research on the subject.
Two: I can vouch for this from my own experience and that of others who have shared their experience with me.

Here's a challenge.....TRY IT!!  Try going alcohol free for 29 days!
Wether you consider yourself a low, moderate or heavy drinker....you might learn a few things!!

Have an awesome Sunday!
Joanne💗💗


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