What started out as an experiment for a few weeks to see if my overall health would improve turned into a three month alcohol sabbatical. And, boy, did I learn more than I expected. Buckle up as I take you down a list of all the things that IMPROVED in my life by giving up alcohol for three months.
Something I learned from a health coach many years ago is to stop drinking at least 2 hours before you plan on going to sleep to not totally ruin your quality of sleep. I stand by that method when I do choose to drink. But, what I can say, is that my sleep is still disturbed and not nearly as deep on nights I have alcohol. And, it doesn’t matter if it’s one glass of wine or the whole bottle (we aren’t judging here). I wake up FAR more rested and recovered when I abstain altogether.
It goes hand-in-hand with the sleep, but my energy levels for the next day (or 2 if I’m being honest) are higher, more productive, and level throughout the day compared to when I drink the night prior. Blame it on age or blame it on alcohol, but my energy levels tank the day after I drink and usually trickle over into the day after that too. It’s such a disappointment each time when I am trying to keep up with the demands of life and a lower energy than I am used to. And no, more coffee did not help!
All of these improvements build off each other if you haven’t noticed. It was a ripple effect that was unexpected but impossible to ignore. When I slept well and therefore woke up with more energy, I found my brain to work better overall. Less losing my patience, less adult temper tantrums (remember, no judgment!), and less brain fog. AND, with the absence of all of that, I noticed my thoughts were clearer, sharper, and much easier to articulate when I needed to be “on”.
While we’re talking about mental clarity, know what else was better when I didn’t drink? The poor eating choices I would make both WHILE drinking and even more the day or two after drinking. I noticed that my overall nutritional intake was lacking if I drank the night before and therefore was more sluggish and tired because I was fueling a craving instead of my overall wellness. Nothing wrong with indulging, but I want to do it when I’m clear headed enough to decide that for myself, not because the post-alcohol me is making the decision.
I am slugggggggish at the gym if I drink the night before. This was not new information to me, but what really solidified it for me when I consistently showed up to the gym for three months and never felt that post-drinking grogginess. I was stronger and had more stamina than I had in a couple of years and I can only attribute it to the consistency of not drinking.
It’s no secret that I am pretty competitive against myself, and so this alcohol sabbatical that I took was equal parts curiosity and equal parts wanting to prove to myself that I could do it. I am a born and raise South Louisiana girl and alcohol is just simply a way of life. It’s not (well sometimes it is) a bad thing, it’s just the culture. I’ve found there to be a lot of similarities here in Houston And, to be able to show up to events and gatherings or have a tough day and not turn to alcohol to *help* the situation really showed me that I can show up as my authentic self and not need to want to turn to alcohol. And also, no one cared. Not one time did anyone vocally care that I was not drinking. To my surprise, I was met with more curiosity and encouragement from people than I expected.
Post alcohol-sabbatical, I still enjoy a cocktail and a glass of wine on occasion, but it’s easier to pick and choose those moments than ever before. Cheers!