Dry January, Week 3: When You’ll Start Feeling Better Physically
Week 2 in this series focused on benefits of getting past initial cravings for drinking and how doing so deconditions your desire for alcohol. This week’s post is about how the physical benefits of taking a break can motivate you to want to drink less.
To illustrate this, I’m going to tell you a story about a client of mine who significantly cut back her drinking.
This client used alcohol to calm down.
She was a heavy drinker by any standard.
Though she never drank at or before work, most evenings she met the definition of a binge drinker, having at least the equivalence of four mixed drinks within a couple of hours and often more. On weekends she nursed a strong drink throughout the day and had more if she went out in the evening.
Having a high tolerance for alcohol, she never appeared drunk.
Since she was a teen (now in late 40’s), she’d experienced heart palpitations and panic attacks. She kept prescription medication handy for this condition. She’d had heart surgery to correct it, which helped but didn’t completely prevent the problem.
Multiple times each year she found herself in the emergency room, unsure if she was having palpitations, a panic attack, or a real heart attack.
Drinking seemed the logical way to relax and mitigate the symptoms. She’d been coping this way for decades.
Until she was arrested for DUI and had to wear an ankle monitor that detected any and all alcohol consumption.
Now, her sales job required international travel. Not being able to go to countries that prohibited entry following DUI conviction was a serious motivator. If she could make it to sentencing with not a drop of alcohol, it was more likely the judge would allow her to plead to a lesser charge and preserve her ability to travel.
With this motivation, though it was difficult, she managed to not drink for over 30 days.
Here’s what she noticed after a month of no alcohol: No. More. Palpitations.
Six months later, still no more palpitations. No more emergency room visits. No more panic attacks.
Had she continued drinking, she never would have known drinking was contributing to her heart problems.
It takes some time of not drinking to start to feel and notice the physical benefits of not drinking.
If you’re drinking every night, or multiple times each week, you likely haven’t given yourself enough time in between drinking to experience how much better you feel off alcohol.
Drinking becomes a habit.
We forget what it feels like physically not to be drinking.
We know alcohol makes us feel tired the next day, but we forget how incredibly awesome it feels the next day when we’ve had a normal night of sleep because we’ve been off alcohol several days.
We forget how great simply being rested and not groggy feels.
If you go two weeks without drinking as part of Dry January (or any 30-day break from alcohol), you’ll start to notice you simply feel better physically.
Two weeks is the length of time most clients tell me they start really sleeping better.
You may also notice:
· Your digestion is better.
· You’re less dehydrated.
· You have more energy.
· You’re getting more done more easily at work.
· Your relationships and interactions with others improve.
· Your skin looks better.
Once you start feeling better and noticing the good parts of not drinking, you feel more motivated to continue because you want to keep feeling so darn good.
All of a sudden, there are parts of you that actually want to not drink.
It’s like opening a window just a tiny crack. A little bit of fresh air comes in and you want to open it further. You start to notice what’s going on outside the little house you’ve built for yourself.
This happens right about the same time you notice you’re wanting alcohol less because you’ve been deconditioning your brain (see last week’s post). A double whammy.
For more tips on how to actually not drink during Dry January, visit www.julieernst.com and take my free course: Stop Overdrinking in 3 Steps.