So many good times happen over a drink. It’s how heaps of us catch up with friends or unwind after work. It also means bad sleep, feeling hungover, and a loads of other negative side-effects. Taking a break from alcohol or giving it up completely has a ton of benefits for your mental and physical health. It also doesn't mean you loose the chance to make more of those great memories.
What does sober mean?
So what's the deal with being sober? It basically means not being intoxicated right now, or not drinking alcohol for an extended period of time. Some people find it easy to give up booze, while others have to work really hard at it. If you're not quite ready to go completely sober, you might be "sober curious." This means you're questioning your relationship with acohol and its place in your life. This can mean cutting back on the amount you drink, or taking a break from alcohol for a bit (like during Dry January).
Although it can feel like everyone is drinking actually one in six adults in the UK don't drink alcohol at all. It's also getting more and more popular with Gen Z being the most sober generation ever in the UK.
The Benefits of quitting alcohol
But why should you consider quitting alcohol? The benefits go way beyond feeling better in the morning. Improved sleep, better mental health, and better physical health are a few of the perks. Even if you fall asleep easily after drinking, the amount of time you spend in the important stage of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep goes down. REM sleep is critical for the creation of memories, emotional processing, and healthy brain development.
Quitting alcohol can do wonders for your physical health, even though the benefits might not be immediately. But make no mistake, ditching the booze can have huge long-term impacts on your well-being.
For starters, alcohol is linked to a higher risk of various heart problems, like irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks, and heart failure. And let's not forget about cancer - alcohol is linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, throat, and liver cancer. So if you're looking to improve your physical health, cutting back on (or quitting) alcohol might be a good place to start.
Every time you drink, you're dehydrating your skin, which can lead to a dull, lifeless appearance. But quitting drinking can improve the dryness and elasticity of your skin. Plus, it can help with skin conditions that are linked to dehydration, like dandruff and eczema. So if you're looking to improve your skin's health, cutting back on alcohol might be a good place to start.
If you're a regular drinker and you're carrying some extra weight reducing your drinking can help you drop some pounds. Alcohol is packed with calories - just one glass of wine can have as many calories as an ice cream sundae. Unlike most whole foods, the calories in alcohol are "empty" - they don't provide your body with any nutritional value. So if you stop drinking altogether, you'll probably notice that you shed some pounds pretty quickly, and it'll be easier to maintain a lower weight.
5 Tips for Navigating Social Situations Sober
The place a lot of folks struggle with keeping booze consumption down is in social situations. So many hangouts with friends means a trip to the pub. Here’s some tips on helping you navigate those moments when drinking and socialising come up and you don’t feeling like having a drink.
1. Plan ahead
Don't let the thought of attending an event sober stress you out. A little bit of preparation can go a long way. Call the venue in advance and ask about their alcohol-free drink options. And think about what you'll say if someone asks why you're not drinking.
2. Power hour
If you're feeling uncertain about going sober to an event, give yourself a "power hour" - go for one hour, and then you can leave if you're not having a good time.
3. Change your perspective
Instead of viewing going sober as intimidating, think of it as an adventure. You'll have better conversations, make deeper connections, and wake up hangover-free. The more you do it, the easier it'll get.
4. Have an exit strategy & Leave when you want
Don't rely on someone else to get you home. Plan your transportation in advance so you can leave on your own terms. It's okay to leave an event if you're no longer enjoying it. You don't owe the host an apology or need to explain yourself. Meeting your own needs is the most important thing.
5. Make it delicious
Quitting or lowering your alcohol intake can be a challenge. By making it easier socially, by keeping in mind how good it is for you and by making it delicious you'll be able to break out of the habit of drinking.