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How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind

How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind

Drinking alcohol is a big part of the social fabric in the United States. Just last night, my wife and I had friends over to our house for a drink before dinner. We were going to try a new restaurant that had gotten some great buzz. And the hype was well deserved, the food, atmosphere, and service were amazing. As part of the social activity of the evening, we had a drink before the dinner and another one at the restaurant.

Part of a very common social scene. But when drinking has become an addiction or is affecting your health, it’s definitely a good idea to quit drinking.

Here we will look at how to the consequences of drinking to much and how to quit drinking for a healthier body and mind.

How much alcohol is too much?

This is a great question to ask in our discussion of how to quit drinking for a healthy body and mind. Let’s look at several definitions of how much drinking is too much and when it can become a problem.

A recent study that was published in 2018 says it has found the magic number. After analyzing data of 600,000 people who drank between zero and 350 grams of alcohol per week they came to the conclusion that 100 grams per week was the magic number.

People who drink more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, the equivalent to 6 glasses of wine, had increased risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.

There is also research that has been done that suggests a different number. In other studies excessive drinking is defined as either drinking too much in one sitting or over the course of a week.

For men the number is 5 or more drinks in one sitting or 15 drinks over the course of a week. For women that number is 4 drinks at one sitting or 8 over the course of one week.

According to this definition 29% of the population can be defined as “excessive drinkers” but 90% of those do not fit the definition of alcoholism. So even though someone is characterized as an “excessive drinker” by these studies, they don’t meet the definition of an alcoholic. Interesting.

I used to be neighbors with a guy that drank 12-18 beers a day and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and was never sick. I know another person who felt she was an alcoholic, quit drinking, and joined AA 15 years ago even though she never drank more than 2 glasses of wine at a time. I think it depends on the person.

If drinking is adversely affecting your life in some way, you are most likely drinking too much. It could be that you are too tired and hungover to do the things you like. Maybe you call in “sick” to work more often than you should. You speed through time with your kids in order to get to the beer quicker than you should.

Whatever it might be. If drinking is adversely affecting your life in some way, you might want to take a look at how much you drink.

Now on to exciting ways of how to quit drinking for a healthier mind and body!

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What alcohol does to your body and mind

It’s pretty intuitive that alcohol probably isn’t the best thing for us. We’ve all read or heard about how alcohol in moderation can be good for us. There’s probably some truth to this but it’s best to seriously look at the research before putting too much stock in it. Many of these studies suggest that drinking in moderation equals 1 drink a day for women and 2 per day for men.

When you drink alcohol, what does it do to your mind and body?

When you first drink alcohol, it triggers the release of endorphins which are chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure. This is a good thin, right? Maybe, but alcohol also does other things to you.

Here are some things that drinking alcohol does to your mind and body:

Your body on alcohol

There are many ways in which alcohol affects your body in the short term. Let’s start with the always fun hangover.

A hangover is caused by several factors including dehydration, the fact that alcohol upsets your stomach lining and opens up blood vessels which leads to a greater chance of a headache, and the fact you don’t sleep very well after a night of drinking.

Other short term effects of alcohol on your body include dulled senses, lack of coordination, slurred speech, blurry vision, poor balance, dizziness, nausea, and bad sleep to name a few.

Let’s not forget that the lowered inhibitions can lead to making dumb decisions such as smoking which is bad for your body as well as doing really dumb stuff like driving when you shouldn’t. This puts not only yourself at physical risk but others as well.

Long term effects of alcohol on your body include stomach ulcers, immune system deficiencies, nerve damage, liver disease, pancreatitis, damage to the heart muscle, cancer, vitamin deficiencies and other cardio vascular issues.

Your mind on alcohol

When you first drink alcohol, you may feel more social and talkative. This is the classic “loosen up with a few drinks” feeling. And it’s true that many people become more vocal and outgoing while drinking alcohol.

It’s good to remember though that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. The depressive effects of alcohol can be seen when people drink too much and suffer from slurred speech.

The pleasant feeling many people get when they drink alcohol is due to the effect it has on the dopamine site in the brain. This is short lived. When someone continues to drink their short term memory becomes impaired.

If someone drinks too much, they may experience a “blackout” which is not being able to remember what happened. In general, short term effects on the mind are short term memory impairment and blurry thinking. As many of us know it also loosens inhibitions and of course there could be potential consequences of that.

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If you a heavy drinker for years, there are long term effects of alcohol to the brain. One of the biggest ones is developing deficits in brain functioning.

Long term drinking can alter your brains hard wired ability to think, even if you have stopped drinking. In other words, it can cause permanent damage to your brain. The brains of long term drinkers can also diminish in size. Scary.

It’s important to remember that not all of alcohols effects on the mind, both short term and long term, are known. This is an area that is still being studied.

How your body and mind benefits from not drinking

Here’re several ways your body and mind benefit when you decide to quit drinking;

You will sleep better.

This benefits both your body and your mind. Even though alcohol is a depressant and makes you feel more tired in reality, you don’t sleep as well with it in your system.

The reason is it disrupts your alpha waves. When you quit drinking your body will rest better which not only improves your energy level but also your concentration, mood, and mental performance.

You’ll lose weight.

Alcohol is full of empty calories. An average beer contains approximately 150 calories. If you are a weekend drinker and typically have 5 beers Friday and 5 beers Saturday, that’s 10 beers and 1500 calories saved in a week. That’s pushing a full days worth of calories right there.

Not to mention losing the bloated feeling. When my wife was pregnant with our first daughter, I quit drinking as well. I lost 12 pounds in 3 months.

Your skin will look better.

Since alcohol is a diuretic, you urinate more when drinking on a regular basis. This causes you to be less hydrated than you should be. When you quit drinking, you’ll be more hydrated and this shows up on your skin in a positive way.

You are able to concentrate better.

Several studies have suggested that your concentration levels can improve up to 18% and your work performance can go up by 17% after a month of not drinking any alcohol. That’s substantial.

Your immune system improves.

Know how heavy drinkers are more susceptible to serious infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia? That’s because alcohol suppresses both the innate and the adaptive immune systems.

When you quit drinking, your body is much better at fighting off infections because the immune system is no longer suppressed.

Your head will feel clear and alert.

Alcohol can disrupt the way neurotransmitters work in your brain. You chalk up the foggy brain to a hangover but there’s more happening than that.

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Your neurotransmitters aren’t working as well, especially if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time.

After you’ve put alcohol in the rear view mirror for several months, your head will feel more clear than it has in a long time.

Your muscles will thank you.

If you are someone who works out and enjoys staying in shape, your muscles could benefit if you quit drinking. For one thing you put a lot of hard work into building up muscle and staying in shape.

Drowning your muscles in beer and wine only helps add empty calories. There has also been recent studies that suggests that alcohol my decrease the production of human growth hormone which is a key part of muscle building and repair.

How to quit drinking for a healthier body and mind (Step-by-step guide)

So how to quit drinking? It’s all about changing habits.

Let’s review some of the major steps:

Step 1: Admit you have a problem.

Awareness is the first step in wanting to change any situation and it’s just as true here.

When you find yourself thinking more and more often that drinking is creating problems in your life, it’s probably time to admit you have an issue with drinking too much.

No shame in admitting it. Many people have issues doing too much of lots of things.

Step 2: Think about why you should quit.

When we think about the long term effects such as cirrhosis of the liver, it’s not usually enough to make us quit. The reason is because it’s not real yet.

Think about the very real short term effects drinking has. If you drink 4 drinks at a time, 3 days a week and each time takes 2 hours, you’ve “lost” 6 hours a week to drinking. Add in the cost of the alcohol, say $30 a week (and that’s being generous) times 52 weeks a year; you realize you’re spending over $1500 a year on booze.

And then toss in the things you miss out on by drinking it becomes much more real.

Step 3: Focus on being sober.

When you decide to quit drinking alcohol, that has to be front and center of your attention all the time. It has to be the driver of you day, the foremost on your mind.

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Figure out how you are going to achieve not drinking and stick to it. It has to be the framework for your life until you get established as a non-drinker.

Step 4: Change your environments

This is a tough step. You have to change multiple things that have been central to the way you live your life. Probably the most important is some of the people you hang out with.

You can’t go to happy hour anymore or similar type situations. You’ll most likely have to not only cut certain people pretty much out of your life but also alter the places you go.

Step 5: Keep adjusting your attitude

When drinking is a big part of your life, it is difficult under the best circumstances to quit.

You will get mad at people who think they are “helping” you. You will most likely get down on yourself and beat yourself up internally. You might have trouble falling asleep and your mind will think about drinking a lot.

Keep pumping yourself up and know that you are working towards a goal that you know is right for you.

Step 6: Get help from rehab or support groups

Many people are not able to quit drinking on their own. If you find yourself unable to quit drinking on your own, you might want to consider checking into a rehab facility. Another option is joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

There a variety of support groups and rehab facilities that can help you on your road to quitting drinking.

Step 7: Keep on keeping on

If you decide to remove alcohol from your life for good, it will be an ongoing process. Once you get through the initial stage and then are a non-drinker, you will have to work on it as long as you want to not be a drinker.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds though. This is really true of any situation you want bad enough.

If you want to be in great shape, that takes ongoing commitment. If you want to make a million dollars, that takes consistent and ongoing hard work and hustle.

Any major life improvement is constant hard work.

The bottom line

We’ve taken a look at how to quit drinking for a healthier body and mind. It’s readily apparent how much alcohol is woven into the fabric of our society. Like everything else in life that’s a choice and there’s a lot of people who don’t drink.

If you decide that drinking isn’t for you, you are on your way to a healthier body and mind. And don’t forget another way that quitting drinking will benefit you — you’ll save money!

Featured photo credit: thom masat via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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