Alcohol-Free Weekend Challenge

Alcohol-Free Weekend Challenge

hand signaling not to pour wine in glass

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and this is a good time to take an inventory of your habits around alcohol. One place to start is with the Alcohol-Free Weekend Challenge. Chose one weekend in the month of April, and abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages for a 72-hour period (Friday night through Sunday) to notice your relationship with alcohol and how you feel experiencing a weekend without it. This national event helps to raise awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families, business, and our communities.

Whether you decide to take a break from alcohol for a few days, a week, a month, or indefinitely, you will experience both physical and emotional benefits and the opportunity to assess the role that alcohol is playing in your life. People who take a break from alcohol usually swear it makes them feel and look better, so why not give it a try!

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to high levels of chronic stress which leads to increased levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. Cortisol affects the decision-making areas of our brains making it more difficult to control impulses – such as drinking. If you participated in an Alcohol-Free Weekend or “Dry-u-ary” after the new year pre-COVID, notice if you find abstaining more challenging now than in previous years.

Benefits of Taking a Break from Alcohol

Increased energy – One of the first things people notice when they give up that daily drink is how much energy they have. Use this energy to boost your motivation and productivity and see what you can accomplish.

Improved sleep – While drinking may help you fall asleep, it suppresses REM sleep, the restorative part of your sleep cycle. Alcohol is also a diuretic so both of these working together means that you will wake up more often at night and feel less rested.

Save money – Check out the alcohol spending calculator on RethinkingDrinking.gov and see how much you can increase your cash flow!

Improved skin – Alcohol is a diuretic which dehydrates the body and can contribute to dry skin and premature aging.

Support weight loss – Alcohol contains about 150-250 calories per drink, so if you usually have a drink a day, cutting back can support weight loss – as long as you do not replace these calories with something else.

Better mood – While many associate alcohol with celebrations, alcohol is a depressant and can affect the parts of the brain that influence mood, making you more susceptible to feeling down.

Improved health – Taking a break from alcohol can improve blood sugar levels, decrease blood pressure, and decrease fat accumulations in the liver.

Reduce drinking in the future - According to research from the University of Sussex, the simple act of taking a break from alcohol helps people drink less in the long term. Study participants who took a 30-day break from alcohol in January were still drinking less in August.

Taking a break from alcohol will improve both your physical and mental health. What do you have to lose?

Tips for a Successful Break from Alcohol

Use your excuse: “I’m on a challenge” - Alcohol is the only drug where people get upset when you decide to stop using it. Everyone loves a challenge and going alcohol-free is just another one to add to your list.

Plan - What will you drink when you go out with friends or to someone’s house for dinner?

One slip does not mean you have failed – If you slip up, so what? Learn from it and come back stronger.

Trade a bad habit for a good one – Trying to rewire years of conditioning is hard. Identify your drinking triggers and uncover the benefit you are receiving (i.e. stress relief, companionship, etc.). Then replace the drink with another activity that provides a similar benefit. For example, if you go to a zoom happy hour for companionship, try booking a walk with your friends instead.

For more resources and tips, check out the Alcohol Awareness Month information here.

Article provided by the Wellness Neighborhood, helping you to Rethink Healthy.