Thursday, 4 February 2016

A month without alcohol.

In the U.K for the last five or so years, many people  choose to abstain from alcohol in what is now known as Dry January. Some people do it for a charity, whilst others just to challenge themselves and detox after a very wet Christmas. We also have a second 'Stoptober' later in the year which isn't so popular, but also seems to be catching on.

As drinking is a serious pastime in the UK, and one which has been mentioned of late in the news, my husband and I decided to help each other through it and have just completed  our first 'Dry January'. So how did it feel and how did we benefit?

The first thing I immediately noticed, and which became apparent almost within days, were my energy levels which increased enormously. By the end of the first week I almost felt a little euphoric,as my energy levels peaked and I found a new spring in my step. My skin also became clearer and my eyes seemed to sparkle as the tiredness left me. Feeling so energised enabled me to exercise more often, and even my breathing was easier and deeper as was my sleeping. I often awoke at night and was restless going off, but I slept soundly and awoke refreshed which is extremely rare indeed. I also rehydrated and you could see that quite clearly in my complexion, and even my hair, which looked shinier and thicker!

As the weeks passed by, I seemed to hibernate and became quite introverted. I even read three books consecutively, which was something I hadn't done for many years, well at least BC. (before children)  We watched several movies, and I was able to concentrate more effectively, rather than suffering from the usual monkey brain. My taste buds improved and I ate less which meant  I also lost several pounds in weight. The wanting or craving a chilled glass of wine, (I had one craving on a Friday in the first week, and another on a Sunday during the second) were fleeting, which again came as a  great surprise. This also made me wonder again why I bothered at all ,and what I felt I was gaining by the habit of drinking.

The governments recommendations for drinking are 14 units a week and most people I know certainly, exceed that easily. This of course leads to addiction which can fuel the fires of mood disorders, depression and anxiety. My worst episodes of mood swings were almost always after a drinking session, and anxiety is known to increase ten-fold with the dreaded hangover. As our alcohol consumption increases, the  level of nutrients in our system is compromised and our hormones and stress levels cannot cope as efficiently either. It makes you wonder indeed, why we drink at all!!!

Speaking to friends ,the majority of us drink by 'habit' and the phrase 'wine o'clock' is engrained in our culture. All too often it is a result of a stressful day, kids, a heavy workload or just the fact that we are relaxing on a Friday night at home. My own abstinence has taught me that rising on a Saturday morning can be even better when I awake with a clear head and high energy levels. It really has been a revelation and we've made a sincere pact to only drink when entertaining or going out for the evening. Even though it may not last, the intentions are good and we certainly hope to stick to it!

When I wrote 'I Blame the Hormones' it was staggering how much alcohol had been there throughout my whole life. I had relied on it endlessly, particularly during times of acute trauma and worry. I've since realised that it is not an answer to misery, but more a postponement ,as the daily angst of life will still be there in the morning. Using alcohol as a crutch to our problems only delays them, and part of being an adult is conquering our daily strife more effectively. As much as I like a drink just as much as the next person, the first glass is particularly relaxing, I can't deny how well I feel at this present time. I'm almost a bit disappointed that it has worked so well, if you get my drift! If only we could enjoy the good parts of drinking without the downsides the next day!

If you do suffer from addiction to alcohol, help is available by contacting Alcoholics Anonymous. I know several alcoholics who have conquered their addiction with AA.  However, during my period of abstinence, I also read a book called 'This Naked Mind' by Annie Grace who helped me see alcohol for what it really is and put it all into perspective.

I Blame the Hormones is available to download on Kindle, Smartphone, PC or IPad and is my own experience of the mood disorder PMDD. Please leave a review once you've read it. I'm always delighted to hear from my readers.

Blessings as always, Suzi x