In this series of Tips & Hacks by Hello Sunday Morning, we’re talking about what to expect when you take a break from alcohol. It can be good to be aware of some of the things that might change for you if you take this step – from your social life to the health side of things. With this in mind, we’ve put together some common experiences that our Daybreak members have mentioned they’ve experienced when they took a break.
So, let’s start with the good things that you may notice:
1. Better Mood
You’ve probably noticed that alcohol impacts mood in a few different ways – as it is a depressant, we can feel a bit flat or down if we’re drinking regularly. We can also find ourselves feeling anxious in the mornings after drinking because of the impact of the neurochemical glutamate on our brain. Most people find themselves feeling happier and less anxious when they take a break from drinking – there is sometimes a thing called the ‘pink cloud’ where we can actually start to feel euphoric as those brain chemicals start to shift after a couple of days without drinking. Read our previous blog to find out more about Pink Cloud.
2. Weight loss
Although it doesn’t always happen instantly, weight loss is a natural occurrence of taking a break from drinking. When we think about it, those beers or wine in the evening can make up half our daily recommended calorific intake – so cutting this out is going to result in shedding the weight, especially if you keep going over several months.
3. Better sleep
Drinking alcohol before bed, even one glass of wine – impacts our brain’s ability to go into REM sleep – the type of sleep that is restorative and helps us to really feel rested. Drinking can also give us a rebound effect when we wake in the early hours of the morning, when the alcohol in our system has worn off and our brains are overstimulated. You may find that alcohol-free sleep is much better quality and that you generally feel more rested and refreshed the next day.
4. Saving Money
One hidden benefit of taking a break from alcohol is in the hip pocket – we might not be aware of this, but nights out with friends or even a few bottles of wine per week tend to add up. It is an idea to keep track of how much money you’re saving if you take a break from drinking – most people find that putting that money aside and saving up for something meaningful is an additional motivator.
5. New ways of socialising
One thing that our members often mention is that they tend to shake things up in the social sense when taking a break from alcohol – they end up catching up with friends for walks and coffees instead of nights out and for parties. This can sometimes feel strange at first and can take some adjustment – but can sometimes be the start of some new rituals that actually bring us closer to friends – like training for a fitness challenge or learning a new hobby like kayaking together. In particular, conversations with friends tend to be more in depth when we’re not drinking – and we can find ourselves talking about a broader range of topics than before.
6. Changes in the weekend routine
Just like our name ‘Hello Sunday Morning’ indicates, taking a break from drinking often results in a change of your weekend activities – rather than low-energy, hungover Saturdays and Sundays, you may find yourself getting up early and exercising, or getting lots of things done around the house. You may find yourself being more social during the day, and relaxing and unwinding during the evenings when you’d normally be out and about.
7. Triggers and Urges
It’s not all sunshine and roses when we stop drinking – we can also expect moments where we are triggered to drink and have strong cravings. These are usually going to pop up at times where we used to have a drink – after work, when out with friends, driving past the bottle shop. Many Daybreak members have noted that having some replacements for alcohol (such as alcohol-free beer or wine, tasty refreshing drinks or herbal teas) can be great at stopping urges in their tracks.
As you can see, when we take away alcohol quite a few things change – and it is likely that you’ll experience a period of adjustment as you get used to your ‘new normal’. Everyone experiences this differently and it’s great to take some time to reflect on things at the end of each week and take note of the changes – both positive and negative – that you’ve noticed.
On our next Tips and Hacks series, we will be talking about Alcohol and Anxiety.