With almost every new year, some of us take out a pen and pad—waiting for inspiration to strike to make a list of bad habits we'd like to drop. And one word keeps resounding in the head: alcohol.
The pandemic turned the world on its head. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, this meant a higher dependence on things we only ever indulged in occasionally. And alcohol is one of those things.
No, we don't mean to judge, not at all. Instead, we'd like people to see that going on a dry month or abstaining entirely from drinking may not, in fact, be the best option.
Quitting alcohol may be more challenging than you think
This is probably the first and best reason that you should hold off on making any hasty decisions as the year begins. Alcohol is a sedative—that pleasurable feeling that comes when drinking is simply the alcohol working on your opiate receptors and the brain’s reward center. So the more you drink, the better you feel, for a while, at least. And though an argument can be made about hangovers, they don't exactly keep you away from the bottle for too long.
What's to gain from cutting back?
So, so much! Did you know that four out of ten car crashes, fatal falls, and other serious injuries are caused by high alcohol intake? Simply reducing how much you drink in a day or night can help keep you safe from accidents and injuries that you otherwise would not have incurred.
If you have insomnia and other sleeping conditions, drinking less may also aid better shut-eye. But, of course, there is a common misconception that alcohol enables you to let go of stress and get better sleep. But studies show that alcohol reduces REM sleep which in turn causes poor concentration and daytime drowsiness. So the problem isn't if you can fall asleep but the quality of sleep you get and how restful it will be.
We recognize that it is a significant change. But an excellent way to maintain this new habit of lower alcohol intake is to remind yourself of the benefits. So don't beat yourself up if you slip up once in a while. As long as you keep going, your body will be better for it. To help you along, there is a modern trend for drinking less alcohol. Many brands are now working in the low-alcohol and no-alcohol categories, so all the more reason to get on board!