What I Learned by Cutting Out Alcohol for a Month

For the last year I have wanted to challenge myself to go 30 days without any alcohol, but it seemed like there was always something going on like a birthday, wedding, or holiday that would make it difficult for me not to give in to the urge to drink along with everyone else. Back in February I finally found a big enough break in my social calendar that allowed me to take on this challenge. I chose to have my last drink on Valentine’s and figured I would be done just before St Patrick’s day and my anniversary. I do enjoy having a glass of wine with dinner from time to time, and my husband is a general manager at a restaurant so he is always bringing home a new beer to try. That usually leads us to having a couple of drinks during the week. Being more of a social drinker, I was interested in putting myself in situations where other people around me were drinking and I was not. Other reasons I wanted to go 30 days without alcohol included seeing if I noticed any changes with my skin or sleep. Even if I did not notice any change, I still thought it would be a good time to take a break especially coming off of the holidays and vacation.

It was surprisingly easy for me to say no to drinking when I was with friends. We attended a get-together at my neighbors one evening, and when asked what I wanted to drink I proudly said “I’ll have water, please.” Did people ask why I was not drinking? Of course, but I was happy to share with them that I had taken on a 30 day no alcohol challenge. I also celebrated one of my best friends’ birthdays and still managed to turn down drink offers. That was probably the most difficult, because we are not able to get together as often as we would like so when we do we like to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, that usually leads to me spending the next day curled up in bed until noon. In both of these scenarios I still had a great time and waking up without a hangover the next day was incredible. My husband was also very supportive and joined in on the challenge for a couple of weeks. With both of us taking a break it made it a lot easier to forgo a glass of wine with dinner, and we motivated each other to keep going.

With my thirties right around the corner I am starting to notice my skin becoming a bit dull, a few wrinkles are starting to show, and some loss of volume. I know that aging is inevitable, I just don’t want to look older than I really am. I have been putting more thought and focus on my skincare routine, but I have also wondered if alcohol could be contributing to my skin concerns. I know that staying hydrated is a big key to healthy skin and since last month’s challenge was to drink more water I realized I was already consuming enough water on a regular basis. So although I still believe hydration is important, I think I can probably eliminate that as the leading factor as to why I am starting to notice my skin aging. After completing a month with no alcohol I would say my skin did appear somewhat brighter and slightly more hydrated than usual. Going forward I plan to stick to a consistent skin care routine that works for my skin and helps correct any problem areas, continue to drink plenty of water, and be more conscious of how much alcohol I drink. 

 I do not typically have trouble sleeping unless I have something going on that I become overly stressed about. However, I have found that when I drink I almost always have a fitful sleep. I may fall asleep quickly, but then I wake up a couple hours later and cannot go back to sleep. Or when I wake up the next morning, I am still tired. Towards the end of this challenge I started to notice that I had more energy and less trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. Since I felt more energetic I started pushing myself more when I was working out and still felt energized enough to take my dogs on a walk and clean the house afterward. One morning, about halfway into this 30 day challenge, as I was making coffee I realized my husband accidentally bought decaf. The bag was almost empty and we had not noticed any difference in taste or our energy level at all. As someone who cannot start her day without a cup of coffee, I was very surprised I did not notice the lack of caffeine. Which leads me to wonder: do I really need caffeine to wake up or is coffee more of a comfort? Maybe I did not need to rely on caffeine as much since I was able to get a good night sleep every night. This might be something I experiment further in the future.

I definitely finished this challenge with way more positives than negatives, and it really was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. There were a few nights I would have liked to sip on a glass of wine or had a refreshing cocktail on that first day we got out of the house to enjoy the perfect spring weather, but I stood strong and stuck to the challenge I set for myself. Although I do not plan to quit drinking forever this challenge has made me aware of some changes I can make going forward. I plan to start limiting how many drinks I consume during the week and no more than two drinks in one night. Getting healthier skin, better sleep and not wasting half my day in bed because I drank too much were all positive outcomes. 

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