Breaking up with alcohol has been a long time coming. I’ve had aspirations of being one of those woke non-drinkers but despite writing it on the last five New Year’s resolutions, it never happened. In taking a step back and looking at our drinking culture, I was shocked and now I’m done for good.
Kiwis have a weird relationship with alcohol. From a young age, it’s a badge of honour to ‘coma out’ from too much booze. Our social occasions are structured around drinking, a reward is a bottle of wine and we’re told summers taste sweeter with a boozy glass in our hand. But the reality is, this relationship has become dangerous. We have horrific alcohol-related violence stats, drink drivers are killing more innocents (and themselves) on our roads and alcohol-related illnesses like bowel cancer are on the rise. I wonder if in years to come we will look at the alcohol companies in the same way we look at cigarette brands, merchants of death.
A textbook binge drinker, I used to save up my alcohol credits for a big blow out. The next day I’d be exhausted, I’d eat bad food and my exercise schedule would be thrown off. I’d often wonder what it was all for and how long my liver would hang in there. After a trip to Hawaii to reset, I came to the realisation that I was over alcohol.
So on the 21st of August I ended it.
It’s only been 4 weeks but I’ve already noticed a huge change in myself.
Bouncing off the walls energy.
I wasn’t even a daily drinker but the amount of energy I have now is incredible. I sleep like a baby, rise at 6am fully refreshed and I have an incredible workout. I suspect it’s because my neurotransmitters aren’t being artificially stimulated and working like they should!
Fresh, healthy skin
My skin is glowing. Part of that will be the exercise and good nutrition but my liver isn’t having to process alcohol anymore. One of the byproducts it produces is acetaldehyde, toxic to body tissues. This dehydrates skin (hi wrinkles) and causes breakouts.
Smarter, happier with deeper relationships
Alcohol impacts neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and GABA and too much has a huge impact on the central nervous system.
“Neurotransmitters regulate your mood, motivation, cravings, energy, libido, and sleep. They control your ability to focus, concentrate, learn, remember and handle stress.”– Be Brain Fit
I’m stimulating these neurotransmitters in natural ways like spending quality time with people I love, exercising outdoors or eating foods rich in certain amino acids. This has made for a happier Katie who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. My memory and creative ability has increased incredibly too.
What if I don’t want to break up?
I have cut alcohol completely after a long time of wanting to. I don’t expect others to be as extreme but I do think we need to flip our relationship with alcohol. From the hero of social settings to a smaller cameo role. Here’s a few things I’ve been thinking:
- Lead with the activity, not the booze: try to create ways to catch up with people that are not related to alcohol. Walks, workouts, craft club. You’ll feel happier for it too!
- Celebrate success differently: rather than celebrating at a pub or with booze, how else could you celebrate?
- Supporting non-drinkers: I was one of those people that encouraged others trying not to drink to just have one or two and I feel like an egg for it now. I also remember asking bartenders to make my soda water look like vodka soda at business events, I felt that pressured to drink. If we make the non-drinkers feel just as comfortable in the party then it’s easier when we want to have a weekend off but still socialise. Trust me, I’m a party without the booze!
- Trial separation: Try spending some time apart for a little while and see how it feels (thanks to Barclay A for that one!)
Do you have other ideas? Here’s to sipping tea and being merry!