SKIP THE HANGOVER FOR GOOD
AS WE REFLECT ON OUR HEALTH CHOICES FROM TIME TO TIME, WE CAN FOOL OURSELVES WITH EVERY EXCUSE IMAGINABLE WHEN IT COMES TO ONE MAJOR PLAYER: ALCOHOL
Enjoying the odd tipple is a societal crutch that can develop from a “sometimes” to an everyday occurrence with consequences. Have you ever considered that downing a schooner of beer is equivalent to a generous slice of chocolate cake or sipping a glass of wine is comparable to chowing down on three fish fingers?
The energy content of alcohol isn’t the only factor — we should also consider long-term effects. Those that choose to live booze free or limit alcohol report better sleep habits, less mental and stress-related illness, a reduction of gastrointestinal cancers and improved energy levels. The myth that one or two drinks a day is good for you is just that — a myth. A study published in the international medical journal The Lancet in 2016 shatters this myth and concludes there is no safe level of drinking alcohol. Each gram of alcohol needs to be metabolised by our body — and this comes at a cost to long and short-term health.
If you’ve been pondering the thought of giving space to your relationship with alcohol, there is no way to sugar coat it. It requires careful attention and awareness. Taking ownership of your habits with honest reflection helps motivate the change,
but like anything you would like to omit, the first 30 days are hard. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
Prepare for the change by telling anyone in your network your intentions. You may even inspire your friends to join you, which will make things easier. A visit to your GP can give you a clearer picture of your current health status with motivation to improve certain aspects. Call in help from counsellors if you feel support would be beneficial. Just as food can be a crutch, so is alcohol. A diary that records your drinking habits along with emotions and actions at the time of drinking can unearth patterns you may not be aware of. One common habit is sitting down with a glass of wine each night for dinner. Why is it repeated? Simply because you did it the night before and the night before that.
CHALLENGE YOUR MOTIVES
Reflect each day on why you drink and your beliefs about how alcohol enhances your life. A common one is that alcohol helps us de-stress at the end of the day. The truth is, it creates more stress for our body and mind to endure.
STAY ON GUARD FOR TRIGGERS
Environmental triggers fuel habits — perhaps being asked by a waiter at a restaurant if you would like a drink or staying back at work on a Friday brings expectations to socialise. These are all normal parts of going through the process of selfdiscovery and understanding that choices are there to be made. Creating space between the action and reaction is one way to help deal with these intense feelings. Pausing to bring attention to what is an emotional reaction helps take the wind out of a rash decision’s sails. Remember there could be years of detraining that needs to be considered and you are rocking all your old beliefs about drinking, so be kind, patient and bring perseverance to the table — it will be a decision you’ll thank yourself for later.
If alcohol is a problem for you or someone you know, please seek advice from a professional or call a helpline. There are trained telephone counsellors available in every Australian state and territory.