HOW TO HAVE A DRY JAN & WHY IT'S WORTH IT
The New Year is always the perfect time to reflect on the current state of our life and make new commitments that support our long-term health.
Long-term, regular alcohol use can cause inflammation, blood sugar issues, hormone disruption (including fertility issues), weight gain, and anxiety & depression (just to name a few). Passing on alcohol for a month not only supports your waistline but also has a profound effect on your overall wellbeing. Your moods stabilize, you have more energy, and your mindset is more optimistic. This can offer more clarity and motivation to work on your longer-term life goals.
We often don’t look at what repercussions regular alcohol use can have on our life or our body until something really goes wrong – perhaps we get diagnosed with some type of illness, like type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that alcohol interferes with all three sources of glucose and the hormones needed to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Drinking alcohol decreases the effectiveness of the insulin in your body, which means your blood sugar levels go haywire, leading to insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes.
Even worse, we could be involved in an alcohol related incident where someone is hurt or loses their life. This is a huge topic for me because I lost my mom to a drunk driver when I was just a baby. This has had an incredible impact on my day-to-day life and it’s something that many years of therapy will never change. I spent much of my younger years downing booze like everyone else to drown my sorrows. Until one day I realized that I was just using it as a crutch to escape the deep ache in my heart. Facing my demons opened me up to a path of self-discovery and profound healing. It also gave me the clarity to reconnect to my intuition, making life much more fluid and rich with meaning.
Alcohol, in moderation, is meant to gently ease the spirit & relax the nervous system. If we are drinking to the point of being drunk, we are usually drinking to drown out something that feels uncomfortable to confront or because we feel boxed in by our life circumstances – maybe we are working too much or pushing really hard to feel a sense of achievement and success, and the overwhelm we experience leaves us feeling constricted. In turn, we crave foods with expansive properties, like sugar and alcohol (hello happy hour!), to give us a feeling of openness and expansion.
Our bodies are our temples. The integration of healthy lifestyle habits promotes long-term vitality and well being; think of this as the beginning of your preventative care plan and a pathway to more happiness.
What you can do to support your mind-body-spirit
Giving up alcohol for a month goes beyond just breaking a habit. Our body forms a chemical addiction, creating a physiological response of withdrawal, which takes great strength to overcome. Just like breaking any habit, it takes will power, but we can make it easier by replenishing our system with nourishing foods. Filling up on whole, plant based meals, complete proteins, and drinking plenty of water will keep your body and mind grounded and your blood sugar stable. Alcohol also causes an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Restore your microbiome with a variety of foods: lots of dark leafy greens, a variety of vegetables & fruits, healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado and whole grains like quinoa, brown rice & buckwheat. Fill up on probiotic rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, organic miso, tempeh, and coconut yogurt & kefir. These foods help establish a healthy environment for gut-flora.
One of the best things you can do to really commit to taking a break from booze is to fully engage yourself in other activates. Partake in activities that uplift you. Working out is always a great option, as it stimulates the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin. Commit to joining some type of group or program like a group cleanse or create a forum to connect with others that are taking their health to the next-level. Creating a support system is key - engage your friends, family and co-workers: group efforts create a collective energy that makes it easy to stay on track.
Maybe consistent drinking has made it challenging to get clear or motivated about a project you’ve been dreaming up? Get started by creating outlines and new goals for yourself. Begin to visualize what you truly want to draw into your life. This is a perfect time to try something new. Take a cooking class, check out a new fitness trend, experiment with new recipes, begin hosting weekly dinner parties at your place, plan a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or sign up for a wellness retreat with all the extra money you’ll be saving.
Make self-care top priority !
Self-care is crucial at this time. Deeply connect to your body by creating nurturing daily rituals that support health & healing. Plan your workouts ahead of time and incorporate things like self-massage, meditation, breath work, journal writing, long baths, and rest into your daily routine. Use complimentary health modalities like infrared sauna sessions, acupuncture, cupping, and massage to encourage your lymphatic system to flush.
Feed your mind and body with positive energy and create a healthy dialogue around your wellness journey. There is no “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong”. Be gentle with yourself and nourish yourself with loving thoughts. Shaming yourself only depletes your life force & takes away from your healing and spiritual growth. The more you tune into your body, clear your mind, and tap into your intuition, the better you will feel. Make self-care a top priority and everything else will come into balance.
Meditation is a supportive tool to help you move through your days with grace. If you’re mind is on fire – try guided meditations or meditation apps to keep you on track. Meditation not only creates a stronger mind-body connection but also calms your nervous system and helps to relieve the daily anxiety that’s been driving you to drink.
We’ve developed deep attachments to being constantly ON. Stress and anxiety can be more harmful than anything you put in your body. Counter stress by setting aside time every day to unplug and connect to nature. I find that spending time in nature hiking or walking on the beach with no access to technology soothes my soul and reunites me with the simplicities of life. Connecting to nature eases stress and tension in the mind & body & soothes our primal need to feel connected to our environment.
Alcohol decreases your melatonin levels, making it harder to get a good night's sleep. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate a bit and restore. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and energized before your alarm clock goes off. Shoot for the same time every night, so your body gets into a routine. Unplug from stimulating electronics 1 hour before bed get thoughts on paper, so you can let your mind shut down; this is perfect time to write a gratitude list. Also, drink Chamomile tea nightly to help relax your nervous system. Adequate sleep will support full body regeneration and help to restore the nervous system.
Let emotions flow through you & reach out for support!
Emotions may come up that you don’t know what to do with and you may even feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. This is incredibly common when detoxing from any addictive substance. Get your thoughts on paper and reach out for support if you need it. A therapist, spiritual advisor, or mentor can be incredibly helpful at this time.
You’ll probably end up in a few social settings where the alcohol is flowing and you’re not partaking. This can be challenging if those around you are not in support of your decision. The best way to avoid this is, well, to avoid it. Surround your self with supportive people and environments that help you feel at ease. Alternatively, stand by the decision with confidence and conviction; tell others you have made this commitment to yourself to improve your health and well being. It’s helpful to engage your friends, family, and co-workers so that a sense of collective commitment and solidarity surrounds you.
You may also end up getting sick or feeling under the weather for a few days. This is the body’s natural detoxification process. Support your immunity with herbal teas, ginger & turmeric and engage in activities that increase sweating to help flush toxins from your system.
Bask in the benefits
After a month without alcohol you should expect to weigh less both mentally and physically and feel a greater sense of peace. You’ll likely have more energy, greater stamina for workouts, and less overall inflammation & body aches. You’ll wake up rested, with more mental clarity, and you will move through your days with more ease. A deeper connection to your intuition will strengthen every area of your life and stable moods will enhance your relationship and interpersonal connections. The high highs and low lows associated with regular drinking will be a distant memory and you’ll find yourself with more energy than ever before. You may also notice that you’ve turned the clock back a few years. When our body works to process alcohol, it stops absorbing key skin loving vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin C, which help to clear dull, dead skin cells, and replace them with fresh, youthful looking ones. Drinking alcohol also depletes key energy, immune nutrients like B vitamins and zinc. People will begin commenting on your newfound glow & will enquire about your new wellness secrets!
A healthy way to re-introduce alcohol into your life
Take it slow. You’ll find after not drinking for a month that your tolerance has gone way down (which is great for your body & your bank account!) Whatever you choose, stay conscious of your decisions and be gentle with yourself. As you transition back to “real life”, the idea is to blend what you were doing before with everything you have integrated over the last month. My hope is that you create a hybrid of your previous habits with what you now know. Enjoy a celebratory glass of fine wine or spirits instead of drinking to the point of unconsciousness.
To begin thinking in the long term is the wisdom I wish to impart to you. How can you live from a place where you begin to look well into the future, instead of just your immediate wants and needs? This is crucial for continuous vitality. We don’t catch a disease, we build it. Having a stressful day, eating poorly, drinking too much, and not getting enough rest or exercise all weaken our internal state and cellular immunity. If the body is strong, our immune system stays strong and makes us less susceptible to disease.
Try this recipe for an alcohol-free mocktail:
1 cup of sparkling mineral water
Juice of 1 lime
3 mint leaves
1 tsp. Coconut sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Muddle all ingredients together, add ice & top with sparkling water
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