Drinking alcohol is such an ingrained part of our society that it can seem near impossible to think about cutting back, or giving it up. Trust me, I get it. I’ve been alcohol free for almost 5 years now. You can learn more about my story about giving up alcohol here.
Although there can certainly be some growing pains as you explore a sober curious lifestyle, this post is designed to focus on the positive outcomes that result in taking a break from alcohol. I’ll share with you what exactly it means to be sober curious, 3 tips for cutting back alcohol, and 10 benefits of reduced alcohol consumption.
As always, I’m an open book about my own sobriety journey. And I’m always here to talk about it with you, because this isn’t something you should have to go through alone.
Benefits Of Taking A Break From Alcohol
What Is Sober Curious
Being sober curious is not the same as being sober. Sobriety often means you don’t drink or partake in any substances (including weed), but then again, different people have different definitions of their own sobriety.
To be sober curious means that you’re in a more engaged relationship with your alcohol consumption, rather than drinking mindlessly, or drinking because of the social or relational pressures that come along with alcohol. Think of sober curiosity as a blend of mindfulness with sobriety, without being confined to the all or nothing label of being fully sober.
More often than not, people who are sober curious would not identify as an alcoholic, nor would they say they have a “problem” with alcohol. In fact, many people who are sober curious are practicing this lifestyle to improve their general health and wellness.
Do Sober Curious People Drink
Practicing a sober curious lifestyle is more flexible than a life of sobriety. Again, this isn’t a black and white practice of either drinking or not drinking. But rather a mindful approach to your own personal relationship with alcohol.
There are plenty of sober curious people who drink. Typically, most sober curious people have a life with very limited to moderate alcohol consumption. Sober curious folks are able to attend a social event without drinking, and enjoy themselves just as much as when they are drinking.
While sober curiosity started with the notion of being open to cutting back and reducing alcohol consumption, it has now spanned across other areas and substances, as well.
3 Tips For Cutting Back On Alcohol
Perhaps you’re reading this, and you’re thinking: hey, this whole sober curious thing sounds pretty cool. But where do I begin?
I got you. These are my top 3 tips to keep in mind when you begin the process of cutting back on alcohol.
Create A Timeline
You’ve probably heard of “dry January” right? This is a great example of what it means to make a timeline. Sure, “dry January” isn’t exactly a sober curious way of living in that it’s a result of binge drinking over the holidays. But, it’s a good start when it comes to cutting back.
The first step when you’re reducing alcohol consumption is to create a solid timeline that you plan on not drinking. You can look at your own schedule to determine what’s best for you. Or, you can create a pattern of blocked off days (like weekdays are dry, and weekends you drink). The point is to have your timeline concrete and clear, so it’s easy to follow.
Small Attainable Goals
Perhaps the thought of not drinking for an entire month sounds impossible. Don’t worry, it’s actually better to create small attainable goals with your timeline, rather than lofty goals that you won’t actually see through.
The purpose of creating small attainable goals is to help build confidence in this process. When we keep the promises we make to ourselves, then we build inner trust. The more trust we have with ourselves, the more confidence builds within. This is why it’s better to create a shorter timeline that’s actually doable, rather than something you’ll inevitably fail at.
Prioritize Your Events
If you know that you want to cut back on alcohol, but don’t want to give it up altogether, then take a look at your calendar to prioritize the events that you know you want to drink at, versus the events that you don’t need to drink at.
Instead of canceling your plans, because you don’t want to drink- I’d rather you get used to going out without drinking. This will show you that you can have fun without drinking, and also help to build up more confidence.
10 Benefits From Taking A Break From Alcohol
Now that you’ve created a timeline based on small attainable goals and your own social calendar, you’re officially ready to cut back on alcohol. And guess what, I have some pretty good news for you. You’re about to feel a whole lot of positive side effects from your new sober curious life.
Drinking messes with our sleep in so many ways. Not only are you likely going to bed later, but you’re probably not getting the same deep, restful sleep that you would when you’re sober. Getting better sleep is easily the number one benefit, because this dictates so much of our overall health and wellness.
When we get better sleep, then we often have more energy, right? Just ask a new parent, they can confirm that lack of sleep is truly a torture tactic. Regardless of improved sleep quality and quantity, typically you’ll feel more energy in general when you stop drinking. Rather than waking up feeling sluggish and slow, you’ll probably feel sharper and brighter.
Drinking is inflammatory, which impacts every aspect of our mental and physical health. When you cut back on drinking, you’re able to support your immune system through better sleep and decreased inflammation. You’ll notice an especially big difference in your physical and mental health if you have any pre-existing conditions that are exacerbated by inflammation (like anxiety or autoimmune disorders).
Improved Skin Quality
I’ve turned into somewhat of a skin junkie over the years. Check out my post on healing my skin to learn more about how to improve your skin quality once you cut back on drinking. The truth is, my skin started to improve when I stopped drinking, even if it needed a little extra help in the aftermath. Your skin can rehydrate and regenerate in a way that it’s unable to when you’re drinking regularly.
Drinking alcohol can undoubtedly contribute to unnecessary weight gain. Not only are many alcohol drinks pretty high in the calorie department, but they also don’t really serve any nutritional purpose, either. Plus, the late night munchies after a night out, or the hungover grease pit the morning after. Reducing alcohol consumption can help with healthy weight management, without relying on the harmful patterns restriction or crash dieting.
Our liver is often overworked in today’s day and age, especially if you’re drinking regularly. The liver filters all of our blood, and also helps to break down toxic substances- like alcohol. What’s really cool about the liver is that it’s self healing, and can regenerate on its own. So, it’s not like once the damage is done, it’ll never be at full health again. Taking breaks from alcohol is a great way to improve your liver health, and in turn improve your innate ability to detoxify your body.
Having More Time
The thing with drinking is that the aftermath of it can cost just as much time as the party itself. Sometimes even longer! The Sunday Scaries are a real thing, and the truth is- no one wants to spend their Sunday an anxious, hungover mess, right? When you cut back on drinking alcohol, you’ll suddenly feel like you have more time- because you have less time spent on constantly recovering from the night before.
Reducing alcohol results in a certain level of clarity. It’s like you can see right in front of you, instead of squinting through the fog. Within this clarity, you’re able to see people for who they are. You might really love the people around you, or you might realize you want a change. Perhaps a blend of both. Either way, your relationships will strengthen, as you’re able to be more discerning and open with the relationships around you. Plus, the quality time you spend with people isn’t clouded by alcohol, but rather nights and conversations that you can remember, instead.
Stronger Connection To Self
The clarity you’ll feel when you cut back on alcohol will also help to improve the relationship you have with yourself, too. Alcohol can typically be used as a numbing substance, and when that numbing is removed- you’re able to feel it all. Although this can be overwhelming at first, the connection you begin to build within as a result of actually feeling your feelings is one that can’t be replicated with a fun party night.
When you take breaks from drinking you’ll absolutely notice a shift in your mood. Of course improved sleep quality is a huge component in mood boosting. So is the notion of having more time and energy, as you’re able to put this into people and activities that lift you. Without drinking, you’ll feel your mood is more stabilized. There will likely be less of the high highs and low lows that come along with a big party night, and then hangxiety the next day.