So, you've tried a DRY month. You're about 2 weeks in. Its going well, but perhaps your resolve is lowering, or on the other side of the coin, perhaps you are thinking of making this change a permanent one in your life.
Creating a sustainable Alcohol-Free or Lower ABV lifestyle is key to success both short and long term. Here we'll help you build your steps to achieving sustainability in your new choice.
Many consume alcohol to relax, reduce stress, or free themselves from unwanted emotions and feelings. Although consuming alcohol may offer temporary relief from stress, negative emotions, etc., in the long run consuming excessively actually exacerbates them. It not only has the potential to worsen your mental health, but it also increases the risk of getting serious health problems like heart disease, gut issues, and lung failure. This is why considering an alcohol-free lifestyle is important to lead an ultimate healthy lifestyle.
An alcohol-free, or lower alcohol Lifestyle can have so many benefits. You can become more active and full of energy. You can become healthier both mentally and physically. Apart from these, there are many social and other wellness benefits from leading an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Understanding the benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle
Here are some of the potential benefits of cutting down or eliminating alcohol.
- Lower blood sugar.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Lowering the risk of heart disease, gut problems, lung problems, and other serious health problems.
- Improved cognition.
- Better sleep.
- Improves decision-making.
- Improves existing conditions like depression, skin problems, etc.
- Weight loss.
Environmental benefits of reducing alcohol consumption
- Cutting down or eliminating the consumption of alcohol can reduce carbon emissions. From manufacturing alcohol to packaging and distribution, the whole process contributes to the carbon footprint. According to a study, the packaging of alcohol contributes more to the carbon footprint than any other steps involved in producing alcohol. So, when reducing or eliminating the consumption of alcohol, carbon emissions can be significantly reduced.
- Reduces water use. Water is a precious resource for humans, and without it, our survival is impossible. The alcohol beverage industry uses gallons of water to make alcohol. According to estimates, to make a bottle of beer (500 ml), 148 liters of water is used. And for a glass of wine, about 110 liters of water is used. By these figures, it is evident that the production of alcohol requires an enormous amount of water. Cutting down on alcohol can contribute to decreasing water scarcity.
Overcoming social pressures and stigma
Maintaining an alcohol-free lifestyle is full of challenges. The biggest challenge for most is social pressure. At parties and events, the hosts encourage you to have a drink or two, and refusing a drink can lead to feeling isolated from the party and those who are imbibing. Even at workplace parties, refusing a drink means isolating yourself. Overcoming such social pressures is difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are a few tips for overcoming these challenges.
- Be assertive but polite in refusing a drink. Be confident in your decision not to drink. Say “no” confidently but in a polite way. By doing so, the people around you will be less likely to pressure you.
- Attend events and parties that serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. As the alcohol-free lifestyle trend is rising, many pubs/bars, events, and social gatherings are including non-alcoholic products along with alcoholic drinks. Attend such events and gatherings.
- Bring your own AF or NA alternatives! When offered a drink, just say, "Thanks, I'm good, I brought my own."
- Take the help of supportive friends or family members. At a party or event, talk to someone who you can trust, and together find ways to refuse alcohol.
Finding alternatives to alcohol
When you are transitioning from an alcoholic lifestyle to a non-alcoholic lifestyle, it can be tempting to grab a drink or two. The good news is to quench your thirst, you can consume non-alcoholic drinks that taste good, are healthy, and give the feeling of holding an alcoholic beverage.
Benefits of choosing non-alcoholic beverages
- Rehydrates the body. Alcoholic beverages can increase urine output and, as a result, dehydrates the body. On the other hand, non-alcoholic beverages support fluid balance and rehydrate the body.
- No hangovers. Since non-alcoholic products contain less than 0.5% volume of alcohol, you don’t get intoxicated and have no hangovers.
- Promotes better sleep. There are a few compounds in non-alcoholic drinks that will make you sleep like a baby.
- It betters mental health. Unlike alcohol, which can destroy your mental health when consumed excessively, drinking non-alcoholic beverages don’t negatively affect your mental health. In fact, non-alcoholic drinks improve your mood and overall well-being. Drinking non-alcoholic drinks decreases the risk of getting chronic diseases like heart disease, gut problems, and other serious health ailments.
Building a sustainable alcohol-free lifestyle
- The number one tip is to find alternatives. Alternatives like non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits can help you maintain an alcohol-free lifestyle. Having them feels like not missing out on alcohol.
- Many consume alcohol to reduce stress and relax. If you are one of them, find alternative methods like Yoga, exercise, etc., that help in reducing stress. Once you get hold of these methods, gradually, your dependence on alcohol can decrease.
- If you want to go out with your friends to a restaurant or a bar, see restaurants and bars that also serve non-alcoholic beverages. This way, your friends can have their drinks, and you can sip on a cold can of non-alcoholic beer. A GREAT way to find placed like this is through the App: Better Without.
- Serve your non-alcoholic mocktails in a proper mocktail glass and garnish the drink. The more a drink looks like an alcoholic mocktail, the feeling of having a proper mocktail also gets stronger. Such small tricks can help you stay away from alcoholic drinks.
All these tips may seem easy, but they aren’t. To be successful in creating a sustainable alcohol-free lifestyle requires ongoing effort and dedication. Without them, you can’t reach your goal. There are too many benefits to an alcohol-free lifestyle. Such a lifestyle will make you become healthier both mentally and physically, and you will lead a joyful life.