We’re halfway through Dry January and whilst there are obvious health (and financial) benefits to giving up alcohol for one month, could you take it one step a further, or even 11 steps and give up the booze for a whole year? We asked the team at One Year No Beer just exactly what you gain from giving up.
First things first, you’ll be thinking with a much clearer head. Alcohol consumption temporarily impairs our decision making and cognitive ability, affecting the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum; these are the parts of brains responsible for memory, decision making and coordination. Regular drinking can cause the brain to form a dependency, relying on it to stabilise moods – not to be confused with addiction, which is compulsive. Over time, some of the changes in brain structure are only partially reversible. Sobering thoughts, indeed.
Now let’s talk about your increase in time and energy! A lot of us drink socially and what does that usually lead to? Late nights. Not to mention your potentially written off day, nursing a hangover. What could you do with the time you gain back? Take up a hobby? Do an extra class at the gym? Volunteer for a cause you care about? Or just enjoy feeling a bit healthier. Whether or not you choose to stay in, you’ll certainly feel a lot fresher the next day.
Your liver will thank you for the rest. It can regenerate quite successfully, after drinking but prolonged alcohol consumption can put it under a lot of stress. The worst part? Liver damage doesn’t tend to show physical symptoms until the damage is already done. An alarming number of liver diseases are linked to alcohol and the cost of alcohol misuse costs the NHS an estimated £2.7 billion per year.
It’s no secret that alcohol is what we call ‘empty calories’ – meaning they can lead to weight gain but with absolutely no nutritional benefits. Did you know that one beer contains an average of 182 calories? That’s the equivalent of a chocolate bar. Weight loss may not be your main objective for quitting alcohol but it’s definitely an easy win, if you’re looking to shape up this year.
Many of our habits have a linear effect, the more or less we consume alcohol, the better or worse the effect on different areas of our lives, so it’s no surprise that your mental wellbeing will benefit from you binning the booze. How? Regular excessive drinking can lead to alcohol-induced anxiety, poor quality sleep, increased stress and in the long term has been linked to depression. Additionally, the sense of pride and satisfaction that you feel from making positive changes is bound to do wonders for your mental health and confidence, especially when it comes to taking on challenges in the future.
Truth is, the scale of your drinking may not be considered abnormal or excessive but that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial either. Giving up alcohol for a year, or maybe even for good will turn the short term benefits of giving up for a month into long term benefits.
And finally, you don’t run the risk of doing two months’ worth of damage in February. There’s a temptation to make up for lost time, once Dry January is over. Why undo all of your hard work? If it takes 21 days to form a habit, then you’re already well away. What do you say? Could 2019 be an alcohol free year for you?
Find out more about the benefits of going booze-free for a year at https://www.oneyearnobeer.com/
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