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What are the health benefits of taking a break from alcohol?

Updated: Jan 13

Healthy and happy and alcohol free for 30 days

Having been alcohol-free for a good while now, I find myself naturally surrounded by new friends and colleagues who are also alcohol-free, and one of the most marked things I have noticed recently, is just how good they all look! Everyone reports feeling great too, since giving up the booze.

Thinking back to my worst times, when I used to drink wine every night, I remember my skin being a lot worse, and I can easily remember the bleary eyed, vacant look and slightly bloated face as I cleaned my teeth for bed, and the tight skin around my bloodshot eyes after a particularly heavy night on the tiles. It was not a great look, I can tell you. I used to shop for the foundation with the highest coverage I could find just to cover up those telltale signs the morning after. I probably save a fortune now in expensive foundation brands alone!

So, just what are the benefits you can look forward to when you take a break from alcohol? Here are a few you can look forward to...

Improvements in the mind

I would definitely say the biggest improvements are in your brain. Alcohol affects all parts of your brain and body, but it is most felt in the mind for longterm drinkers. Your body is an amazing machine, and giving up for just one month can result in super fast improvements. My first few breaks from alcohol were always around month for Dry July or Dry January, and it was always a shock to realise, after just 14 to 30 days, how differently I would think and feel.

This may be news to many, but alcohol is a depressant. Every drink you take causes your body to release stimulants to counteract this, and your body ends up being pumped full of adrenaline. Drink alcohol every day, and this is happening to you every single day. Back and forth you go. Your brain also creates cortisol, the stress hormone, so you remain in a constant flux of unhappiness and stress and depression until you get your next drink. Drinking because you are stressed at work? More news for you - it's likely the alcohol causing this too. So, effectively, you are drinking to numb the effects of the drinking the night before. Heavy stuff, huh?

When you stop drinking, after a few days of your brain rebalancing rebalancing, you lose the depressed feeling, along with the hangovers, and your moods lighten. Suddenly you can cope better with stressful environments and events, and your friends and family will notice you look and feel much lighter and less stressed.

Probably more commonly known is alcohol causes you to lose REM sleep, which adds to feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This was absolutely huge for me. My anxiety levels after just three days just fell off a cliff, and suddenly I was no longer staring at the mirror every morning worrying about having to go to work, or the dentist, or whatever other trigger was going on in my life at the time. In fact, lack of sleep was probably the biggest issue in my life, and I always thought alcohol helped me sleep! But it was waking me up every night at 3am with a pounding heart and worrisome thoughts in my head about what I might have done the night before.

Do you know what happens to rats when they are deprived of REM sleep? They go insane and die. That's what. Scary stuff. REM sleep is vital to our wellbeing and our health.

After maybe five days of zero alcohol, when my alarm went off every morning, I would rise out of bed with a gorgeous shiver of anticipation that definitely did not exist before, jump in the shower, and my kids said I had started singing every morning. Good for me, perhaps not so great for the rest of the family. Heh.

With better sleep, anxiety all but washed away, and a happier mindset, I raced through tasks at work, and yes - I even got a promotion! The change was marked and colleagues commented on how much happier I seemed too. And my dreams were amazing... something to look forward to.

All of this after 30 days, and I can promise you it gets even better after that if you decide to take a longer break. I can genuinely report to you that after around 70 days my mood soared, and I felt so lucky to have found This Naked Mind by this point, I decided to tell everyone about it. This, however, did not go down so well, but I will tell you more about that in another post. Maybe don't do that.

Improvements in the body

A lot of people report losing a lot of weight when they give up alcohol for a month, however I lost inches rather than weight. While the scales stayed the same, probably due to the sweet tooth I picked up initially, my mid-region felt lighter and less bloated, and my waist became more defined. My stomach flattened too, and my clothes started to fit better. Later, when I rejoined a slimming group in my local area, the weight sort of fell off me, whereas I had always struggled to lose weight when I was drinking. My digestion improved too, and any heartburn disappeared, even when I had the odd naughty takeaway. All good so far.

Alcohol adversely affects the heart, making the muscles in your heart looser. I used to blame this for my palpitations and the odd sharp pain in my chest on occasion. I can honestly sit here right now and say I cannot remember the last time I have had either issue. It's strange, I hadn't even noticed it had gone until now to be honest. How awesome is that?

My blood pressure also normalised, and I was able to stop taking medication for high blood pressure after around four months of being alcohol free. I had always attributed this to lack of exercise - most of my hobbies involve being seated - but in reality it was our good 'friend' alcohol that was causing all the defects. I honestly wish I had found This Naked Mind ten years sooner, before any health issues had started to occur.

My hair was less lank and greasy, stayed clean and fresh longer, and looked fuller, and there were fewer hairs left over in my hairbrush after I brushed my hair. It looked more lustrous, but I hadn't changed the shampoo bar I normally used. Oddly, my eyelashes started to grow thicker and fuller too, and my fingernails are strong and healthy now, instead of breaking all those times I attempted an afternoon of housework at the weekends. Who knew?

My skin improved hugely, and wrinkles dissipated. My neck was less crepey too, and my face less creased in the morning. I looked a lot less dehydrated, and - brilliant thing this - I did not have to wake up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night anymore, which helped my sleep. I was told I looked younger, and I still to this day maintain that taking a break from alcohol is probably one of the most anti-aging things you can do for yourself. Forget £200 face creams. Chuck in the booze for a few weeks and get £200 back! Spend it on a nice handbag or a new pair of shoes that will make you proud of your achievements. Which neatly leads me on to....

Improvements in your wellbeing

Oh. My. God.

If all the improvements above are not reason enough to give the booze a break for a month, just WAIT until you feel the benefits in your wellbeing after a month!

All that stress, anxiety, looking rubbish, worrying about what you said to your partner the night before, mystery bruises in the morning, 3am wake-ups with your heart pounding, feeling tired even after a nights sleep, feeling like crap at work, worrying about whether you can drive or not, worrying about taking your kids to football, worrying about what your boss thinks of you, and that never-ending horrid bloated feeling, and, worst of all, the niggling worry you are slowly killing yourself. Maybe not even slowly...

How do you think you will feel, with all of it gone? Not just some of it... ALL of it.

The effects are simply dizzying, in a good way. It's like feeling a you, version two.

You will notice more of your surroundings, and be able to handle everything life throws at you that much better.

Sure, you will still get bad days on occasion, but instead of them feeling like the end of the world, you will be able to deal with the issues like a pro, and make it home in time for tea. Your head is more alert, and your thinking will be sharper.

Your mind and body feel a sort of super-charge, and when you look back on those mornings staring at a saggy face in the morning, probably with a hangover, you will marvel at how on earth you ever coped with it. The paracetamol will stay in the cupboard instead of being your morning ritual, and you will bounce through your days that little bit lighter. Brighter. You, but that bit better.

You will become a kinder, happier person. Not just to others, but most importantly of all, to yourself, and that self-critical, unkind voice in your head will dissipate for long enough to realise the enormity of what you just did. You took a break from an addictive substance, and you gave yourself a huge health and wealth boost in doing so.

You. Are. Simply. Awesome.

Why don't you give yourself a 30 day break and enjoy all of the above, and more? It is completely free, 100% supported, so what do you have to lose?

Head over to This Naked Mind, download the free app, and get started. And drop me a hello when you get there and let me know how you are getting along? I would love to hear that what I am writing is helping someone out there.

Good luck in your journey to become Zero Fierce for 30 days!

Amanda x

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