What are the benefits of going alcohol free?

  • Improve your health (lose weight and reduce risk of disease)
  • Improve your well being (happier / more positive outlook on life)
  • Improve your sleep (no more waking in the middle of the night!)
  • Improve your connection with others (your relationships with your partner, children, family and colleagues all improve)
  • Increased energy levels (more active and motivated)
  • Improved diet (replace the fatty stodgy ‘hangover’ foods for healthier options that detox and nourish your body)
  • Improved focus and clarity (life become so much richer, it is like a fog lifts, and you see more opportunity and happiness than before)
  • Save money (you’ll be amazed how much healthier your bank balance becomes!)

As some of you may already know it was when I stopped drinking that I discovered alcohol had been masking my super powers and it is this one change I made in my life which served as a catalyst to changing everything for the better.

A few highlights include:

  • Losing 15 Kg (2st 5lb) in weight (loss of 5 inches around my waist)
  • Reduced my blood pressure and lowered my resting heart rate
  • Becoming a more present and engaged partner and father
  • Becoming happier and fulfilled with my life
  • Reclaiming my self-confidence and self-worth
  • Running my first half-marathon less than 90 days after I stopped drinking
  • Training to become a life coach whilst still running my design business
  • Qualifying as an alcohol free coach

Above is a before and after picture showing the difference it had on me going alcohol free. What you can’t see is the difference it made inside to my emotional well being and happiness. That change was even more radical than the physical changes you can see in the photos! (You can drag the divider from side to side).

I kid you not, I don't believe any of the things listed above would have happened if I hadn't changed my relationship with alcohol.

I think we can all agree there is a lot of grey area between being a teetotal sober and an alcoholic. With so many factors in play including culture, gender, age and personal character traits, everyone’s relationship with alcohol varies.

One person may drink a glass of wine to accompany their meal, another may raise a glass of fizz to toast a special occasion. Someone else may have a drink at the end of the day to unwind. Someone else may drink to loosen up at a party. You get the picture, we’re all different and how we use alcohol is too.

The purpose of this blog post is simply to provide a summary of the various things I have learnt on my own journey whilst changing my relationship with alcohol.

If you are wondering whether your relationship with alcohol may be holding you back from living your best life and want to reduce your intake or remove it completely hopefully this blog will help highlight some of the benefits of going alcohol free.

So let’s take a look an in more depth at those benefits of going alcohol free.

Improve your health

This is a great one to start with, I was shocked to learn how much damage alcohol can have on our health. I guess though the clue is in the word for drinking too much alcohol. Intoxicated – do you think having the word toxic in their is just a coincidence?

Well it isn’t, alcohol however you dress it up with sugar, flavourings, colourings, fancy packaging and great marketing is at its purest form, a highly poisonous chemical. It’s a toxin that kills living things from human beings to single cell organisms.

If you sniff pure alcohol, it will make your eyes water, your nose run, and if you were to sip any you’ll retch and start vomiting. These reactions are our body’s way to stop us from poisoning ourselves.

Think back to the first time you tasted an alcoholic drink, did you like it? In most instances people don’t like the taste, but they persevere (usually under peer pressure) to become accustomed to the taste. That natural dislike of the taste is again our body doing its best to protect us. Even when the alcohol is diluted and masked with strong flavours, our first impression is usually urgh!

Once we start drinking alcohol, we run the risk of over indulging and risk our health from

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falling over, drowning and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide and assault.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency caused by high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Blackouts, periods of conciousness where you may behave out character and have no memories of your actions.

Over time, excessive alcohol use has been linked to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.
  • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the likelihood of getting sick.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

Ask yourself how many of the above did you know were associated with alcohol consumption? For me cancer and weakening of the immune system never ever occurred to me.

I knew alcohol was a poison but I hadn’t realised the extent of damage it could do.

Improve your well being

Alcohol is a depressant and anaesthetic, it anaethetises certain feelings such as tiredness, stress, pain and discomfort. It is why we tend to feel more mentally relaxed after a drink. Of course the body is also anaethetised leaving us feeling uncoordinated and slow.

The effect alcohol has on our brain initially makes us think alcohol is relaxing and it is why a lot of people decide to drink. However a myth buster coming up, drinking alcohol also causes anxiety and a heightened level of stress. Have you ever woken up in the night feeling anxious, maybe suffering from palpatations? Well if you have it’s because you drank alcohol the evening before. Alcohol innitially relaxes you only to then have the stress and anxiety levels turned up higher than they were before you drank.

You may be wondering why this happens. In his book Alcohol Explained, author William Porter does a great job of explaining this.

Essentially, alcohol provides us with a feeling of relaxation. However, the brain and nervous system reacts to this by releasing stimulants and becoming more sensitive, with the result that when the alcohol wears off we are more anxious and unrelaxed than we were before we took the drink. So we are inclined to take another drink, and the relaxing effect of every drink we take registers on the subconcious, but the corresponding feeling of anxiety does not register on the subconcious to link the one with the other. So over time the subconcious mind comes to believe that alcohol will relieve anxiety and stress, so when we experience these feelings we experience a subconcious trigger to take a drink.

As well as reducing your stress and anxiety levels, taking a brake from the booze also improves your optimism, confidence in yourself and has also been linked to improving low self-esteem. You’ll likely feel calmer and less tetchy and aggressive too!

Improve your sleep

You’re likely thinking I’ve got this wrong, how can not drinking alcohol improve our sleep? I’m not debating alcohol’s ability to send off to sleep, but did you know it inhibits you from going into the deep restorative sleep (known as REM) your body and needs to repair and renergise itself.

Let’s be honest, have you ever bounced out of bed feeling full of vitality and raring to go after a night out. I certainly never have. Even if you end up laying in bed all day, you never get up feeling rested!

Alcohol ruins sleep, even if after a night out you are not suffering from ‘hangover’ symptoms, I’ll bet you’ll be ‘feeling a bit tired’.

Did you know that even having one drink will interrupt your natural sleeping pattern. And what’s more the effects of sleep deprivation are accumulative, so if you drink regularly the symptoms of sleep deprevation can get worse.

So as well as being constantly tired, you may find your physical and mental well-being effected. Perhaps feeling more short tempered, more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed, prone to over eating and less inclined to exercise.

When I was drinking I was always awake during the night, I never for one minute assumed it was the drinks before bed that were the problem. I was always running on low batteries and I never felt rejuvinated in the morning.

All that has changed, now I sleep solidly, never waking in the night and when I get up i am full of energy. I go for a run, I exercise, I do my meditation, I journal and study or do personal development work, usually all before anyone else has stirred.

One thing to point out here, some people who stop drinking may initially find they find it difficult to get off to sleep and may even suffer from insomnia. I had exactly that, and it is quite usual. Persevere, withing a couple of weeks you’ll be getting the best sleep you’ve had in years.

The reason we don’t all find it easy to get to sleep once we stop drinking is because our body has become used to having alcohol in our system. Our body will soon adapt and start making the necessary sleep hormones again.

Also if you have been a regular drinker your body will have been dealing with the booze you’ve been pouring into it on a regular basis and once this stops the body is able to start clearing the backlog of toxins and waste in your system that have built up over an extended time. Sometimes this ‘spring cleaning’ can interrupt your sleep temporarily.

If you find it hard to get off to sleep, try meditation, drinking a milky drink, taking a bath to unwind or perhaps read.

If decide to read two excellent books I recommend that really have helped me to appreciate my sleep and get my bedtime routine just right to squeeze the most out of my time in bed read Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson and Sleep by Nick Littlehales

For me, taking a break from alcohol was the best choice I ever made in my life and it is why I trained with one of the best, if not the best, alcohol free coach and mentors out there to become an Alcohol Free Coach.

Having seen first hand how much positive change has come from my own experience, it was an easy and natural natural decision to train to be able to give back and help others to change their own relationship with alcohol.