One of the best moves you can make for your life, mindstate and health is to stop drinking.
People spend so much money on diets, exercise, therapy, health, skin, hair — it’s ironic that if you STOP spending money on alcohol, you can actually improve all of the above.
How about instead of spending money on alcohol and superficial fixes, you spend all of your money on vacations, clothes, books, video games dating, and anything else you want to do with the sole purpose of having fun?
How much better would your life be?
Let me dive into some of the benefits of quitting alcohol. This is NOT comprehensive — I’m sure there are other benefits that I’m not thinking of right now. Many of these things will happen IMMEDIATELY. As in, within one week of being alcohol free.
1.) You will have more money — Think about how much you spend at the bar every week. Add all the Ubers, Lyfts and taxis you have to take because you can’t drive home. Add all the takeout you order when you’re drunk. Then you have a total of the money you spend directly on alcohol. What could you do if you had all that money in cash? If you want to get really depressed, calculate your monthly expenses, multiply that by 12, then multiply that by the number of years you’ve been drinking and think about what kind of car you could buy if you had that money right now.
2.) You will get better sleep — “But I sleep better if I have a few drinks before bed!” I can hear you protesting. That’s actually not true. Alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker, but it ruins your REM sleep, which is the part of your sleep that makes you actually feel rested. When you drink before bed, you wake up more tired, feeling as if you’ve had less sleep, even if you had a full eight hours. Try it — quit drinking for a week and notice how much better your sleep is after a week.
3.) You will look younger — Next time you see one of those 40-year-old men or women that looks about 80, ask them if they drink a lot. Or don’t, that would be pretty rude. But I can guarantee that they probably do. Better yet, if you see someone in their 40’s who looks like they could be in their early 30’s, tell them they look amazing and ask how often they drink. I’ll bet it’s very moderately or not at all. Alcohol speeds up the impact of aging on your looks, making you look older than you do.
4.) You will lose weight — A typical beer has between 150-300 calories. A shot of alcohol has about 100 calories. A mixed drink like a margarita can have 500 or more calories. Alcohol doesn’t replace food — it’s on top of whatever you are eating. Not to mention, when you drink you’re less likely to go to the gym and more likely to order greasy take out. Cutting alcohol will make you cut weight without even trying.
5.) You will have a healthier heart — You probably read an article in Cosmo or some other lifestyle mag a few years ago that having one glass of wine per day is good for your heart. Well, the reality is that scientists haven’t actually been able to prove whether this is because of the alcohol, because of elements of wine that are also found in fruit juice, or just because people who only average 1 drink per day make other healthy choices as well. What is known is that drinking more than 1 drink per day has an ill effect on your heart, and just about every other organ in your body. And be honest–do you really only drink 1 drink per day? And when you do, is it red wine?
6.) You will experience better gains at the gym — Alcohol has a ton of negative effects on both athletic performance and the progress you will make when you go to the gym. It dehydrates you, makes you more tired, slower, and reduces muscle growth. It can be hard enough to drag yourself to the gym, especially with a hangover. Do you really want to limit the effectiveness of the workout?
7.) You will be sharper mentally — Alcohol negatively impacts your memory, cognition, ability to think abstractly. If you’re a heavy drinker, it can make being sober seem dull and boring. Don’t worry — this will go away after you’ve stopped drinking for a while. Those who drink heavily for long periods of time are risking long-term damage, so quit while you’re young! When you stop drinking your memory will improve. You will be able to focus at work without watching the clock waiting for happy hour to start. Your cognitive abilities will improve and your mind will be clearer. This impacts your entire life — from your work, to self improvement, to your relationships.
8.) You can drive places — This is an underrated one, because it impacts so many things. If you’re not drinking, you can drive home after a night out instead of spending money on a cab. You can help your friends out by being the designated driver. In case of emergency, you can go pick your friends and loved ones up at a moment’s notice.
9.) Your liver will thank you — This one is pretty obvious. Everyone knows that drinking is damaging to your liver. Your liver filters out toxins in your body — like alcohol. When your liver fails, it can ultimately kill you. In the meantime, a bad liver causes nausea, skin discoloration, fatigue and diarrhea. Fun!
10.) Your relationships will improve — You may think that stopping drinking will cause you to lose your friends and social life. This is simply untrue. While there certainly is social pressure to drink (and people who are heavy drinkers want co-conspirators so they feel like they’re in it together), if the people in your life are really your friends there is much more to your relationship than alcohol. Maybe you’ll be less interested in spending time at the bar — make the effort to plan alternative kinds of activities with your friend group. Or, continue hanging out at the bar, just drink a mocktail or a tonic and lime. You’ll still have fun laughing and talking with the people that matter to you, whether or not you are drinking alcohol. Not to mention, your relationship with your SO will likely improve as well. You’ll make real connections and have real conversations that aren’t blurred by the haze of alcohol. And you won’t do and say things that you regret or can’t remember the next day.
11.) You will be more productive — Without drinking, you won’t give up the beginning and end of every day that you drink. When you hit up a happy hour after work, there goes your chance to do anything constructive for the rest of the evening. Then, you spend all morning sleeping off a hangover if it’s the weekend, or you wake up on your third alarm, running late for work, and start the entire day from behind. All that time can be spent pursuing your goals, whether that means studying a topic that will advance your career or build a new one, learning a language, writing the next great novel, building a new skill, or all of the many things you could be doing that will make your life better.
12.) You will feel things more — You’ll notice that your emotions are sharper and more intense — at first this can be challenging, but that is how you are supposed to feel. Humans are meant to feel things — fear, pain, happiness — not dull our emotions with alcohol. Embrace what it is to be human and actually feel things.
13.) You will have better eating habits — Be honest — after a night of drinking, how likely are you to cook a healthy meal vs. just ordering pizza or chinese food? When you’re out drinking with your friends at happy hour and someone suggests ordering nacho’s, how likely are you to say no? When you stop drinking, you will have more inhibitions and think more carefully when it comes to what else you are putting in your body. You won’t cut corners as often, and are more likely to put in the extra effort and make a healthy choice.
14.) You will have better conversations — Focus, memory, cognition — all these elements improve when you stop drinking, and their combined impact will improve your conversational abilities. You might think that alcohol makes you more funny, or more interesting. That’s really not true — all it does is slow your brain and make you and other people dumber, so that everything seems funnier and more interesting. If you’ve ever been sober around a bunch of drunk people you know how the conversation tends to get dumber and dumber. Normally smart people start to repeat themselves, get sloppy, talk really close to each other and slur their words. That’s exactly how you look when you drink, you just don’t notice or care because you’re drunk!
15.) You will have better sex (with people you actually want to have sex with) — Alcohol loosens your inhibitions, increasing your sexual desire and making it more likely that you will go home with someone you’ll regret the next morning. Simultaneously, it cuts off blood circulation, making you less likely to become aroused or achieve orgasm. So basically, it makes you want to have sex more while at the same time makes it more difficult for you to actually have sex. That sounds like some sort of hell designed for perverts, when in reality it’s just what many of us do to ourselves every weekend.
16.) You will never be hungover again — Those of us in our late 20’s/early 30’s know that hangovers just keep getting worse the older you get. When I was 19, I’d jump out of bed after a night of drinking, take some Advil and a couple sips of water and I’d be good to go. At 31, a bad hangover can last two days and, at minimum, ensures that I’m getting nothing productive done the following day. Do you really want to give up an entire 24 hours just for a few hours of “fun”?
17.) You will make plans and stick to them — Whether your goals are related to personal finance, health, creativity, etc…it’s so easy to throw them out the window once you start drinking. Planned on saving up some money for that vacation? Go out for “one drink” and you end up buying rounds for all of your buddies. Planned on sticking to a diet to lose some weight? Next thing you know you’re in Penn Station grabbing a burger and fries at Shake Shack on the way home. If that seems oddly specific maybe I’m projecting, but you know what I mean.
18.) You will be more free — Once you stop drinking, you no longer have to constantly be factoring alcohol into your life. You don’t have to budget for it, you don’t have to plan how you’re getting home since you can’t drive, when you go out to eat you don’t have to check if the restaurant is byob or not. You don’t have to constantly be going to the bathroom when you’re out at concerts or at the bar with friends, or be headed back to the bar for a refill and missing the expensive show. You won’t be watching the clock until five when you can have a drink without people judging you, or timing when you’re going to the gym knowing that it can’t be after a certain time or that will interfere with your drinking. Freedom is a beautiful thing.
19.) You can eat what you want — Remember when I said you’d make better choices for your diet? That’s true overall. AND, now that you’re not drinking 3,000+ empty calories every week and ordering takeout 3+ times per week, you can afford to treat yourself every once and awhile, whether it’s with a dessert after dinner or a trip to a fancy restaurant. You will have both a calorie and a money surplus that will make this possible.
20.) You will have more life — Not only will you live longer, because you are healthier, skinnier, have a better heart, liver and organs, but you will remember more. Instead of hazy nights out and sluggish mornings when it feels like you have a layer of fuzz on your brain, you will keep the memories of the times you spend with friends and families. You’ll get more accomplished with the time you do have. Life is too short to forget most of it, and too long to spend it feeling like shit. What greater gift can you give yourself and the people who love you than a longer, fuller life?