If you’re ready to quit drinking alcohol, a neurotoxin that causes anxiety and depression, I’ve got you! I quit five years ago, and have never looked back. (See Sober Me PART 1, PART 2, How to Change, Are You Anxious?)
Here are 7 reasons to get you started on your personal journey to better health. Quitting is in YOUR control.
- Save money!
- Sleep better!
- Improved health and better focus!
- Look better!
- Better relationships with loved ones!
- No hangovers ever again!
- Respect yourself!
1. Save money!
Alcohol is expensive. Here in the Free State of New Hampshire, booze is sold at state-owned liquor stores. By choosing not to drink, I have defunded the state by thousands and thousands of dollars. We don’t want to admit how much money we spend on our drinking, but you will immediately notice the extra bennies when you quit. I even started a “fun fund” to reward myself with an occasional excursion–as simple as an afternoon a few towns over for a delicious meal–as a reminder of how far I have come.
Need an embarrassing story to drive the point home? Years ago, I found myself in my old NYC neighborhood on the way to a house party. I’d already quit drinking, but stopped in at my old regular liquor store to grab a bottle of wine for the host (I have since changed my opinion on this and no longer gift products I think are unhealthy… I now give something I would like to receive, candles or flowers, say). The store owner behind the counter lit up when we walked in, and yelled, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN. YOU BACK?” Her response was so over-the-top that afterwards, my husband and I calculated how much money we’d been spending there on a monthly basis, and then understood why the shopkeep so desperately wanted us back. She’d lost more than $10,000 a year when we moved. $10K on booze? You can pay off debt with that kind of money. You can go on a decent vacation or start a college fund with that kind of money. Make home improvements, or finally get that sauna for greater health. How about a nest egg for a midlife career change? The sky is the limit! Start planning what you will use your newfangled extra cash on because….
Once you realize how much money you are wasting on something that does not enhance your life, and actively detracts from your health, the choice is obvious. Quit!
2. Sleep better!
Look, sleep deprivation is the Number 1 Torture Technique. Let me repeat that: Lack of sleep is literal torture.
So ask yourself… WHY are you choosing not to sleep well? The way we live–24/7 screens, binge watching TV, junk food, everything on demand, our alcohol and sugar abuse, etc.–has created an incredibly unhealthy environment for optimal sleep, and REM sleep is vital for good health.
Lack of sleep causes the release of Cortisol, the stress hormone, and, I recently learned, dopamine and serotonin deregulation–the hormones that are supposed to keep you happy–can only occur when you are releasing too much Cortisol. In other words: stress deregulates your happy hormones, and the No. 1 cause of stress is… lack of optimal sleep!
The Bad-Sleep-Torture Cycle looks something like this: You’re sleeping badly, so you drink “to relax,” that leads to not sleeping well, which starts to make you stressed and anxious… So, you drink more, and you sleep less… And your stress and anxiety increases… So you… Drink more…
Have you ever stopped to consider whether you are “medicating” with the very thing that is… causing the issue?
This realization was a massive wake up call for me: Alcohol is a poisonous neurotoxin and depressant. You cannot self-medicate yourself into a better place using alcohol. Period.
For most of my adult life, I told anyone who would listen that I drank, in part, because, “It’s the only way I can fall asleep.” Now technically, blacking out after 2 bottles of wine is *A* way to “go to sleep,” but at what cost? The quality of your sleep is junk when you’re drunk, and lack of quality sleep has a cumulative negative impact on your health, causing heart attacks, strokes, brain fog, lowered sex drive, high blood pressure, weight gain, and it ages you.
No thanks! Instead, I have now implemented a bedtime ritual–think of it as the opposite of my former PON (Passing Out Nightly) Routine–I make soothing Lemon Balm Tea which I drink in bed while journaling long-hand about my day (not using a device is important step for me as I pursue digital minimalism); this time for self-reflection is vital to keeping me on track. I highly recommend you start your own bedtime ritual that includes quiet time to write down your thoughts in your own handwriting where you honestly assess what you did/did not accomplish that day in order to achieve your longterm goals.
You will soon discover you can make more of your dreams a reality without alcohol. Quit!
3. Improved health and better focus!
Want Dementia or Alzheimers when you’re older? Me neither!
We’re told that as we age, we need to expect less from our health and brain function… but does it have to be this way? What if the cumulative degradation of our mind and memory is the result of lifestyle choices, and what if, with better choices, better inputs… you will have better outcomes?
Now add the idea that you’re voluntarily ingesting a neurotoxin and poison that is known to destroy your organs, literally a poison that eats your liver, heart, and brain, and then… well, Double Duh.
While the science is still playing catch up on what is causing the mental decline as we age, to me it is undeniable that alcohol must play a part. I want to be as sharp as possible as I get on in years, and so I’m going to do my damnedest to protect my mind, body, and soul. One easy step is to eliminate alcohol. Quit!
4. Look and feel better!
We are all a little vain. And that’s OK. And while we aren’t all equally attractive or talented or intelligent or whatever, we CAN control the choices we make that influence our quality of life.
Quitting alcohol is one of the best ways to improve your looks and feel more alive! It’s empty calories, so you will likely lose weight when you stop. (I switched to Keto when I quit and lost and kept off more than fifty pounds.) You will also have the benefit of sleeping better, which improves lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles.
No one looks at an alcoholic and thinks, That person looks in tip-top shape, more of THAT, please! You instinctively know there are underlying health issues. Now that I’ve been alcohol-free for 5 years, even as I’ve entered my Fifties, when I look in the mirror, I feel like the person looking back at me, is ME. This comes from a deep sense of integrity I have developed with myself, that I have consciously CHOSEN TO DEVELOP through actions like meditation, yoga, journaling, calls with friends and family, and mindful living.
Now that I quit drinking, friends tell me I am “reverse aging.” If you want clear eyes, beautiful skin, and that undeniable glow of health… It’s yours for the taking. Quit!
5. Better relationships with loved ones!
When you feel better, mentally and physically, you are able to show up better in your life and in the lives of others. If your drinking is negatively impacting the people you care about, then quitting allows you to restore those relationships. Don’t take this step for granted: make the conscious effort to include them in your new life. Imagine how happy your decision to live an alcohol-free life will make them!
One caveat: YOU are quitting for YOU. Not for anyone else. Not a spouse or partner. Not a close friend. Not a family member. YOU are monitoring your own choices because that is what YOU CHOOSE to do… for YOU.
One amazing gift for me by choosing to quit is spending more quality time with my husband. More frequent hikes in the beautiful Free State, more gardening, more art and music shows, more plans about the future, from new travel destinations to home improvements, and even… better sex! Quit!
6. No hangovers ever again!
My memories of drinking as a senior in high school involve the most deathly hangovers ever. Like, every Sunday, I would have to hole up in my room with the curtains drawn. To explain the retching, I would tell my parents I must have eaten something bad. Food poisoning every weekend? I mean, Dear ‘Rents, come on!
My sporty and healthy sixteen-year-old body was desperately pleading with me to stop the poisoning. Instead, I diligently trained my body to accept the headaches, puking, upset stomachs, lethargy, sweating, general brain-fuzziness, and non-stop thirst as “normal.” Since “Perseverance” is my middle name–not really, I don’t have one, but it could be–as long as I avoided hard liquor (we know how that went), the hangovers became “manageable” over time, meaning I could always, always function the next day through my own sheer will.
Waking up every day dehydrated with a pounding headache is no way to live. If this is your reality… Quit!
7. Respect yourself!
Do you often tell yourself, Tonight, I’ll only FILL IN THE BLANK, and then you end up doing something different? Tonight, I’ll only have a couple of beers. OK, by “a couple,” I meant, you know, six. This type of behavior is a recipe for disaster because the more you break your promises to yourself, the more you lose respect for yourself, then the more you seek solace in things that are causing the problems to start with!
When your thoughts and actions are not aligned, you are on a path to drive yourself bonkers. For real.
Think about it: You know what cognitive dissonance is, right? From Psychology Today, it is the “state of discomfort you feel when two or more modes of thought contradict each other. The clashing cognitions may include ideas, beliefs, or the knowledge that one has behaved in a certain way.” I think of cognitive dissonance even more broadly, to include your actions that do not align with your thoughts… Meaning you are telling yourself one thing (e.g. I want to drink less tonight) but doing another (I had a second bottle of wine with dinner).
This “cognitive dissonance” causes a constant spiral of disappointment… And who wants to live like that?
The good news: Once you identify this cycle of behavior, you are already on the path to recovery. You can stop the “Drive Yourself Bonkers”-ness by implementing one simple thing into your life… A promise, to yourself, written down in your own handwriting, and kept somewhere, to quit alcohol.
All you have to do is keep that one promise to yourself!
When you choose to live an alcohol-free life by keeping your promise to yourself, you gain self-respect.
I did this really hard thing, for me, and no one else. I frigging ROCK!
I feel alive and happy every morning when I wake up. I am so grateful for the choice I made to live alcohol-free!
I will never have a hangover again. Hallelujah!
I love meeting my eyes in the mirror. You go, grrl!
I am proud of myself for simply keeping one promise to myself. I did it!
When your thoughts and your actions are aligned, your life is aligned. When your life is aligned, you can thrive. Quit!