Will You Fall Off the Wagon?
Have a drink, by all means. But, the long-term benefits of lifestyle changes – more sleep and exercise, less alcohol, better diet – mean that we should try not to go overboard when Dry January gives way to February and the rest of the year.
First of all, congratulations!
The end is in sight. Many of you will be at the finale. The end of January. For some it’s Dry January, some may even have completed Dryathlon, a fundraiser for cancer research. This process would have most probably resulted in a healthier you, a weight loss, a saving of pounds in the pocket, and perhaps a fresher mind with reduced headaches. If you’re one of the ones who have had this as one your goals and have nearly achieved this then I’d like to congratulate you. A massive well done, and I’m sure you’re feeling better for it. However, the hard work may just be starting.
Time to think twice?
You will not want to regress. Some of my clients this week have said they can’t wait for Thursday (1st February) when they will be having a drink after work, or they are going for a meal (and drink will be consumed). By all means have a drink (you deserve it), but be careful to ensure you do not go overboard and start to fall into bad habits. If you were a smoker of 20 cigarettes a day, you wouldn’t quit for January to then smoke 620 cigarettes on February 1st. Therefore, think twice before you drink large volumes of alcohol to celebrate the fact you haven’t consumed alcohol for a month. Realise the health benefits, be proud of yourself, and continue on your journey.
Positive effect of lifestyle changes
Some of these benefits will have long term implications. Positive health effects can include weight loss and lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, more regular sleep patterns, and a reduction in the risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, stroke and liver problems.
I don’t want you to be boring, quit alcohol for ever, and change all your behaviours. That would change who you are, you’d loathe the new you, and most probably be reluctant to the change. An excellent piece from George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the NIAAA states “the biggest benefit is learning where your body is in relation to alcohol and what you want your relationship with it to be”. If you can use some of that self-discipline and restraint you’ve built up over the past month into drinking (and eating) in moderation then you will continue to feel massive benefits. Find out where you are both physically and psychologically and use that going forward to give you a lift to your next challenge.
Focus on the positives. The end of the month is nearly here. Once again a massive ‘Well Done!’ to all who have completed (and also those that have attempted) an alcohol-free start to the year. For those that raised money for a good cause whilst doing it, I admire your resilience and goodwill. Continue on that positive path into February, exercise well, eat healthily and drink responsibly.