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Published on September 21, 2018

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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Mat Apodaca

Living a Complete Life Guru. Writing about the importance of having a well rounded life and how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happinness

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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