I’ve been a moderate drinker since my friends and I brazened it out at our local pub (lots of make up and "yeah, course I’m 18" attitude with our fake IDs) to order lager and lime. We thought we were so cool.
Fast forward several decades and I’ve had the gut feeling (more about guts here in my TEDx talk) that it was time for alcohol and I to take a break. There’s much evidence that alcohol impacts our sleep, energy, metabolism AND peri-menopausal symptoms (hello, 43) so I wanted to see if I’d feel any different after a month of zero booze.
For the month of November, no alcohol passed my lips. I was happy to break the routine of reaching for a glass of wine to wind down and to see how I'd feel without it.
- My sleep quality was so much better. I slept deeper, no longer woke in the early hours and didn’t feel the need to drink a big glass of water in the middle of the night. Alcohol might help us drop off quicker but it means we spend less time in deep sleep and more in less restful REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
- My skin was clearer with no spots and less pinkness (I have sensitive skin, thanks Roaccutane) mainly, I think, due to not being subjected to the diuretic effects of alcohol. When we drink alcohol, our body treats it as a toxin and the kidneys go to work to expel it….which is why we pee more when we’ve had a few drinks, leading to dehydration.
- I was mentally sharper and physically more energetic. Without alcohol in my system, I felt more alert, productive and exercised more. I read that alcohol creates ‘dullness’ and that seems a pretty accurate way to describe it. Without moderate drinking – a few glasses of wine a couple of times a week – I felt mentally more 'on it'.
I often ask my clients whether they choose to drink for celebration or salve.
If it’s a salve for stress (or anything else), there are better ways to feel better. Like exercise, being outside, watching a movie, spending time with the people you love. If it’s celebration, then indulge in moderation. In keeping with the Glorious Wellness philosophy of 80/20 and having a little of what you enjoy, I’d never say give it up completely. If a G+T or glass of wine is part of your 20%, enjoy every sip.
I’ll definitely be enjoying a few glasses of champagne as part of my 20% as we head into the Christmas festivities. I go into it knowing that one or two drinks is enough. Any more than that and my Glorious Wellness gets up and goes.
If you're interested in staying well over the holidays, you might like this post about how doing nothing is a really good thing.