An incredibly positive step that you can take for your self care is reducing your alcohol consumption.
Drinking alcohol is a very popular coping method, an easy way to relax and numb out negative emotions. It also contributes to our sense of “fitting in” because alcohol is part of our social rituals.
The problem? Numbing out our feelings prevents us from processing them and releasing their energy, which leads to all kinds of mental and physical ailments.
Each ounce of alcohol consumed indeed increases our risk of heart, liver and pancreatic disease as well as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast. Drinking alcohol also weakens our immune system, which contributes to an increased risk for various other illnesses. Finally alcohol interferes with the brain’s neurological pathways, and can affect the way the brain works. These modifications affect mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. This leads to poor-decision making and increased risk of accident and injuries - for ourselves and others - with all kinds of potential tragic consequences.
And then there is the elephant in the room: as a highly addictive substance, alcohol can lead to dependency, and all the heartbreaking personal and relationship problems that come with addiction. In the USA, 7% of the adult population has an alcohol problem and over half of that population is alcohol-dependent.
To limit the risk of all these negative outcomes, new research suggests to limit alcohol consumption to less than 10 drinks per week, with a maximum of two drinks on a given day and two sober days each week to allow the organism to detoxify.
One standard drink is defined as 0.6 fluid ounce or 14 grams of pure alcohol. It’s a 12 fl oz can of regular beer, 5 fl oz of wine, 2-3 fl oz of liqueur or 1.5 fl oz of distilled spirits. It’s actually not that much, most likely less than what is regularly served in restaurants… or in your kitchen as dinner is being prepared.
Although I personally have completely stopped drinking alcohol ten years ago and have pretty much not looked back – at the exception of a yearly mojito shared with my husband on our wedding anniversary : ) – I’m not advocating for you to completely quit. However I’d like to encourage you to reassess your alcohol consumption and see if you could reduce it a little bit. The sharp mental clarity, the sense of ease with feeling each feeling, the trust in decision-making and coordination, the new friendships made over herbal tea, hot chocolate and fruit spritzers, and… the financial savings are all worthwhile.
And in case you're wondering, I can guarantee you that not drinking alcohol does not take away the fun of life. Sobriety can actually lead to pure and authentic joy and very happy and healthy relationships.
- How many alcoholic drinks do I consume each day and each week?
- What circumstances lead to me drinking alcohol?
- How am I usually feeling emotionally and physically when I’m drinking alcohol?
- What effect(s) does the alcohol have on me mentally, emotionally and physically over time?
- How could I reduce my alcohol consumption?
- Who/what could support me in this effort?