This article originally appeared on health and fitness blog, Eat Drink and Be Skinny.
I will admit it – after a long day at work, I love coming home and uncorking a bottle of my favorite red. Hello, sweet relaxation.
But, this past January, I decided to go dry for 31 days. This month was not about detoxing or breaking any big vices, but it was a litmus test to really explore if alcohol affects my health at all – physical and mental. So, I spent the month drinking LaCroix after work, hiking versus brewery hopping on the weekends and turning down happy hour cocktails in exchange for appetizers.
Honestly, I did not expect to see any tangible, visible changes within just four weeks. I assumed any changes would have to come from long term sobriety and that I would merely shed a few pounds.
Come February 1st, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many more positive effects on my health than I ever anticipated.
My skin and hair felt amazing.
Alcohol dehydrates both your hair and skin – and to my surprise, impedes your body’s vitamin absorption and cell renewal. When your body becomes deprived of natural levels of vitamins like A, B12 and zinc, your hair can become brittle and your skin can lose collagen and elasticity (the sugar in most alcoholic beverages impacts the latter too).
After choosing to rehydrate instead of dehydrate, my skin became smoother, my acne died down and my locks felt lusher than ever. I even felt comfortable to go out and about town with zero makeup on.
My anxiety simmered down.
Alcohol impacts your serotonin levels, affecting your mood. While I will not go as far as to say that staying away from booze suddenly made me worry-free, I noticed a huge shift in the way I handled my anxiety. Rather than dealing with my hormones skyrocketing and plunging, interrupting any stress relief or decision, I was fully in control.
My energy level grew tenfold.
I was surprised to learn that alcohol actually makes you sleep worse. After a night out, I feel like I fall into a deep sleep – only to yawn the next day and be confused. I was surprised to learn that alcohol negatively impacts the natural flow of your REM cycles. Without any alcohol impacting my sleep schedule, I slept like a baby each and every night. Consequently, I woke up more energized and refreshed.
So, while I did lose a pound or two, going sober for a month impacted me in more ways than I could have imagined. I’ll still enjoy a glass of cab or a refreshing IPA here and there, but I loved the way cutting back made me feel healthier – inside and out.
Cheers to healthy (and balanced) lifestyles!