Alcohol is a legal substance that alters brain function by changing the brains relationship with the rest of the central nervous system (CNS). Even in small amounts, alcohol can change how your brain works and can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, impaired cognition, memory loss, irritability, and cloudy thinking. In addition to mental health, alcohol has significant long-term risks on physical health such as damage to organs, high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, disturbed sleep, malnourishment, and so much more. Like lots of dietary habits, alcohol intake can become a routine, something we do not give a second thought to.
No one is 100% sure where No Alcohol November came from or how it got started, but many people use it as an abstinence launch pad for the holiday season. No Alcohol November involves committing 30 days to live an alcohol-free life. At the end of the month, you might realize you do not need to rely on alcohol as much as you thought. Furthermore, it can be a life changing experience especially for those who are living with an alcohol substance use disorder, as it can act as a much-needed revelation while inspiring them to get professional help.
Having extended breaks from alcohol is a great way to reset your relationship with alcohol and reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Whether you are hoping to quit alcohol for good or simply wanting to take a break from it, this challenge can be tough, but it is definitely worth it.
First, you can improve your liver function. Like the lungs, brain, and heart, the liver is an essential organ in your body. The liver metabolizes toxic substances and converts them into non-toxic substances that can be used by the rest of the body. Alcohol inhibits the liver’s ability to process nutrients and covert toxins into usable substances. In small doses, alcohol is harmless. However, if consumed daily or in large amounts over time, alcohol can damage the liver, hurting the rest of the body. Second, if you consume a lot of alcohol, you can raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels. This is true regardless of what type of alcohol you drink. Numerous studies have shown that individuals that stop drinking can improve cardiovascular health significantly in as little as one week from their last drink. If you continue to cut out alcohol for more than one month, you can restore your heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels. Lastly, if you have noticed that you have been gaining more weight than you care to admit lately, it could be due to your alcohol consumption. If you are regularly drinking, for example having three to four drinks per week, you could be adding 800 – 1000 calories to your diet each week which adds up quickly. If you lose the alcohol, there is potential to lose a few pounds.
First, No Alcohol November gives you an opportunity to find new ways to de-stress and relax. It is acceptable in our society to turn to alcohol to unwind after a long day, but there are pliantly of other ways to de-stress. You can try going for a walk, keeping a regular schedule, exercising more, staying connects with friends and family, challenging your brain by learning a new skill, get some rest, and unplug when you need to. Second, it is important to have a support system in place and surround yourself with people who will encourage and motivate you, and who will not pressure you to drink. This could include discussing your goals with those closest to you and seeing if anyone wants to do it with you. Also, you can join online support groups where you can connect with others going through the same experience. Lastly, it is important to be kind to yourself and celebrate your achievements. Being abstinent from alcohol for a month is no small task and is a big accomplishment. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate your progress by treating yourself to something you enjoy like a nice dinner out or your favourite coffee.
First, it is not feasible to avoid social situations entirely, so it is crucial to be equipped to handle them. For example, it is okay to be selective in which social situations you attend. It is okay to decline events or situations that pose a risk to your goals. If you choose to attend, this can also include having an exit plan, which can give you the freedom to leave when you want, without having to wait for others. Second, have some fun and explore alcohol-free alternatives. Times are changing, and there are more and more non-alcoholic drinks that are still satisfying, enjoyable alternatives. You can still enjoy the camaraderie of social drinking without compromising your progress. Lastly, set and communicate clear boundaries. It is paramount to protect your well-being and ensure that others understand and respect your limits. This can include crafting a response when you are offered a drink or asked why you’re not drinking. For example, you can say you are the designated driver or have a busy day tomorrow, which can often be enough to deflect the conversation.
Regardless of the outcome of your No Alcohol November challenge, attempting to go a month without alcohol can prompt you to make sustainable lifestyle changes and improve your overall mental and physical health. It is important to remember why you started this challenge in the first place. Whether it’s for your health, relationships, personal growth, or healing, keep your reasons in mind and stay focuses on your goals! Enjoy the journey.