Top 10 surprising benefits of giving up alcohol

The benefits of giving up alcohol are endless but here is my top 10. In no particular order as they are all just amazing and all build upon each other.

So here goes!

1. Sleep

Alcohol ruins your sleep. Ruins it! As women we do not need anything else getting in the way of a restful night’s sleep. By the time the kids have stopped waking up or peeing the bed the threat of peri-menopause can be looming and poor sleep comes knocking on our door again. Why on earth would we want to ruin this blissful time of recovery. Sleep is crucial, crucial to our wellbeing. It is our key source of rest and recovery, both physically and mentally but alcohol disrupts it on a number of levels. But, when you take a break from alcohol your sleep pattern and quality improves. This change can be noticed quite quickly and soon you are running through all the necessary sleep cycles to feel top notch and tickety-boo the next day.

2. Confidence & Clarity

Another major lie that alcohol tells us is that we need it for confidence. We have been conditioned to believe that the wee dopamine hit we get from alcohol is just the courage we need to be ourselves. In fact, as you learn to show up as yourself, truly yourself, you begin to learn that you can rely on yourself because you know you won’t say or do something you may later regret. You are unlikely to offend someone and even if you did you know that you have spoken from a place of truth and not from a place of drunkenness, stupidity or regret. You go home after a night out knowing exactly what you done and you leave the uncertainty behind you. This one does takes time, the initial uncomfortableness of sober outings does get in the way but you soon realise you can trust yourself and that brings with it a sense of confidence you never knew you had.

3. Mental Well-Being

Going alcohol free does not cure any medical condition, let’s be clear but it can definitely help reduce symptoms. Before going alcohol free I was living with anxiety to the point I required medication. I was using a significant dose and for a serious amount of time. However, when I quit drinking my mood, my perspective and my ability to implement other coping strategies all changed. I was able to gradually come off medication and I am now med free. One reason for this is while I thought I was drinking to relax and unwind after long, stressful days working and parenting, I was actually increasing my own stress levels. 14 units of alcohol a week, and that is not a lot, actually increases your baseline cortisol levels, this is the stress hormone. So, I was not de-stressing, I was actually physically creating stress. As a busy working mum I do not need any more stress in my life, no wonder I was constantly wired and on edge. Now that I have removed alcohol I am able to check-in on myself, my true feelings and thoughts and feel when I need to take a step back and look after myself. This is able to happen naturally instead of constantly living in a state of heightened stress and anxiety. Taking a break for alcohol allows you to develop your own understanding of your own needs and how best to respond to them.

4. Consistency

I could not keep up with anything when I was drinking as the tiredness kicked it and took me way off track. A few drinks one night led to tiredness at best, a raging hangover at worst and with tiredness comes lack of energy. This is when our pre-frontal cortex is affected and this is why our plans all go to pot and our decision-making becomes focused on the short-term. When last night we thought we wanted to go to the gym class to meet our weight or fitness goals, this morning we decide we will leave until another day. Our long-term decision-making is affected and before you know it your plans and goals are all taking steps backward instead of making consistent progress. Taking a break allows you to do what you set out to do without all the distractions and set-backs. You start making progress, you become more motivated and you keep on going. You keep being consistent.

5. Time

Time arrives by the bucket load. You get back the time you spent drinking, the days you wasted hungover and the time you spent thinking about alcohol. All of a sudden you can do the things you wanted to but never seemed to have the time, in fact you can even take on new things. I managed to train to become a coach and train for a marathon at the same time. Both massive undertakings, all that study and all those long runs. There was still the same 24 hours in the day, I still had my job, my kid and my home to look after. What changed????? No alcohol. If you are too busy, too many things to do… Take a break from alcohol and see what happens.

6. Community

There is a worry that you will lose friends when you stop drinking. Those mad girlie nights in and out, will you still be invited? This is one of the biggest challenges in stopping drinking but it is also one of the biggest gains. There is a massive online and in-real-life sober community out there and they are all cheering you on from Day 1. You see if you find yourself an alcohol-free community every person in there knows what you are going through. All of a sudden you realise it was not just you and you are understood. That shame you felt around your drinking, it slowly breaks away as you realise there are women exactly like you, feeling the same, doing the same and hoping for the same. You support each other, cheer each other on and lift each other up. Instagram, Facebook, face-to-face meet ups. I have met some of my closest friends now thanks to giving up alcohol and I know they get me. People pop up everywhere. I was even on holiday in Lapland last year and a man from one of the groups I was in was a rep there. Ha, it was unreal.

7. Being a better parent

This one cannot be measured and does not take much explanation. Do you want to be tired, cranky, feeling dread and shame, feeling like you are never enough, dragging yourself hungover to soft play because you do not have the energy to do anything else or feeling embarrassed at the school gate because you got too drunk at the latest football fundraiser night? Or, do you want to be present, calm, ready to respond to any time they pee the bed without dying inside, have the clarity to respond to a fall out amongst friends instead of reacting, getting outside, creating memories, being reliable. Alcohol is a distraction, it gets in the way. It stops us being our best selves. We deserve more, our kids deserve more.

8. Physical health

Alcohol is linked to 7 types of cancer, especially breast cancer. It is a top-level toxin and as soon as it is ingested the body’s top priority is to break it down immediately. There is no getting away from it. Once we drink it, it is no longer, Pink Gin or Sauvignon Blanc, it is ethanol and that is poison to our body. So, the body has to work and work hard to break it down. Our bodies surely have enough to do just to keep us busy mums going. When we stop drinking we not only allow the body time to repair we also gain so many other health benefits and that one change from no longer drinking alcohol now has a ripple effect. You are now sleeping better, that in itself is a magic pill. You have more energy so you make it out that walk and get fresh air or to the gym class you have been ditching for months. You have a calmer more restful night and start taking your make up off at night. You start looking better, feeling better and you start being able to make better food choices instead of craving the salty carbs and rubbish you’ve not been able to resist. You see more small steps become possible. You do not need to start running marathons like I did but I guarantee you’ll physically feel better and start thinking about what else you can do for your physical health and well-being

9. Calories

What a waste of calories!!!! Alcohol is empty calories. There is no other nutritional value in alcohol so any drink is empty calories and I know all your diets out there will advise you on the cleaner, less calorific drinks to drink but the next day you end up craving all the rubbish too. So, it is not just the alcohol it is all the other calories that come with it. Taking a break from alcohol gives you back calories by the bucket load. The average bottle of wine contains approximately 600 calories. 600, what cold you do when them???? Or, if you saved them, how much weight cold you lose?

10. Money

Just like calories, it is not just the money for the alcohol, it’s the takeaways, the taxis, the lost phones, the stupid items you buy when drunk. I once bought concert tickets for a gig the very next night and ended up too hungover to go. What a waste of money!!! Just run a wee experiment and add up when you have spent, it will blow your mind. The apps help with this too, my app tells me I have saved £10,282.50 since I gave up and that is just on wine, never mind all the other stuff. What could I buy with all this money?

You see, there really is not an area of your life that will not experience a benefit. Physical, mental, financial, social. It’s like a tiny wee magic pill. If a doctor said, I have this pill that can do all of this, you would take it, right? Of course you would! So why not try it out, even just for a month, or two. See for yourself, what have you got to lose? Nothing and you have all of this to gain. Our Circle can help. Join us on our next challenge and experience it all.

– Gillian

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