Want to hear a shocking statistic? According to recent studies, alcohol is the number one risk factor for 15-49-year-olds for ill health, disability, and even death. So, it’s unsurprising that more and more people are taking part in challenges and giving up alcohol.
Giving up alcohol has a wealth of health benefits that are advantageous to any participant. It can reduce blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, aid weight loss, encourage better sleep, and allow your liver to heal. This is usually what spurs people to take part in initiatives like #DryJanuary or One Year No Beer. Especially after the festive season where many of us tend to overindulge.
For those hoping to lose weight, alcohol is one of the first things they will abstain from. And, with good reason. Each gram of alcohol contains seven calories. That translates to one pint of lager having the same number of calories as a doughnut.
As it stands, alcohol-related absences account for 3-5% of all UK sick days. That may sound like a small percentage, but it represents between 8-14 million days lost every year. By giving up alcohol, your chances of falling sick begin to shrink, as well as the cost to businesses.
How no alcohol improves your performance at work
In addition to having less time off work due to alcohol-related issues, steering clear of the booze can improve your workplace performance in a myriad of ways.
Avoiding next-day fatigue
Most people will only indulge in bigger drinking sessions over the weekend. But, even a couple of glasses of wine to unwind at night, or a beer with dinner can have adverse effects on energy levels the next day.
Even small amounts of alcohol can reduce deep sleep and cause more awakened periods throughout the night, resulting in a restless night. It’s already a daily struggle for many to wake up to their alarm and feel motivated and excited to head to work. Add alcohol into the mix, and this becomes even harder. This may explain some of the increased absenteeism seen in alcohol users.
According to the director of the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), next-day fatigue like this can lead to a variety of issues in the workplace. With jobs that involve more complicated procedures such as working with machinery, or being responsible for the welfare of others, it seems obvious that alcohol would have serious negative effects. But, even working in an office, your performance can be negatively impacted.
This kind of loss in productivity accounts for around £7.3 billion each year for businesses. But, when engaging in a period of alcohol abstinence, 62% of participants found they were sleeping better, leading to better concentration and productivity.
Reduced stress and anxiety
Many of us like to unwind at the end of a hard day with a chilled glass of wine or a cold beer as we believe it helps us to relax. This is something we have been programmed to do and believe by the media and society in general. It is entirely normal behaviour to use alcohol as a calming tool, but many of us don’t realise how detrimental to our health this kind of habit can be.
When we drink alcohol, the chemicals in our brain are affected causing higher levels of stress and anxiety. This kind of alcohol-induced anxiety can continue to affect us hours after we stop drinking. Meaning, even if we only have a couple of drinks with dinner, we could still be feeling the neurological effects when we arrive at work the next day.
When we only indulge in one or two glasses of alcohol in the evening, we manage to avoid more severe hangovers. But, even milder hangovers can affect mood and behaviour. Irritability caused by smaller drinking sessions is not beneficial for maintaining morale or engaging in teamwork. Both vitally important in any business.
Building better employee relationships
Building great employee relationships is incredibly important for maintaining a healthy working atmosphere. Nobody enjoys working with people they don’t get along with. But, when these relationships rely on alcohol – nights out, after work drinks – they are not built to last.
Instead, building relationships based on mutual interests and values can help to create a stronger sense of community. There are less societal expectations when you take alcohol out of the mix. Nobody cares how much you “can” drink, or that you really enjoy fruity cocktails over a pint of lager. When alcohol isn’t involved, we are more in control of our emotions and have less to be judged on.
How to Give Up Alcohol Successfully
Going it alone is hard. Without people backing you up, you’re bound to stumble along the way. That’s why taking part in existing programmes can be incredibly beneficial. It’s not just about willpower either. It’s a shift in thinking that leads to success. When people around you are inviting you out, buying you drinks, and constantly asking you why you’re doing this – it makes you second guess your motivations.
One Year No Beer
Giving up alcohol is more about changing your relationship with drink than avoiding it altogether. That's the philosophy they use on the One Year No Beer challenge. The clarity of their rules helps you know what is, and isn’t ok, helping you to keep on track for longer.
At first glance, giving up alcohol seems almost impossible. With OYNB, the rules are clear but easy to follow. Alcohol-free and low-alcohol beverages are still allowed (up to 0.5% ABV) so you don’t have to resign yourself to pints of diet coke next time you’re invited to the pub with your friends. And, you don’t need to sacrifice your favourite meals either – using alcohol in cooking is still allowed too.
Encourage others to join you
Going it alone is always possible, but the more support you have, the easier it gets. Speak to your friends and family about why you’re doing it, and see if you can convince them to do it too. Or, mention the idea to your boss at work. Once they hear how much it can benefit them and the business as a whole, they might be interested in helping you out.
Make it a challenge with those you team up with too. See who can go the longest, or who can have the most fun with it. You know why you’re doing it, but keeping on track is much easier when you make a game out of it.
Keeping Clear of the Beer
Better health, improved performance at work, and a sense of accomplishment – what more could you ask for? Whether you go it alone or in a group, the benefits will always outweigh the hardships.