Drink less alcohol – get more done

Drink less alcohol - get more done

Some of the information available on alcohol consumption is quite confusing. There’s no doubt that excessive alcohol consumption is very harmful, leading to liver disease, high blood pressure, brain damage and an increased risk of developing cancer. For example, NIH provide resources on the harmful effects of heavy drinking. However, it’s the information on moderate alcohol consumption that’s not totally clear.

Little and often is okay?

We are told by some sources that drinking a small amount of alcohol each day can actually promote our health, while others are telling us that we shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol at all. Most of the information about alcohol focus on its effects on health. However, rather than thinking about the effects of alcohol on health, I’ve been thinking more about the effects of alcohol, even small amounts of alcohol, on our ability to get things done and be successful.

My (almost) alcohol-free year

I wouldn’t say my alcohol consumption is excessive, and if I do drink I only do it in the evenings; never during the day. However, a few years ago I reduced the amount I drank drastically and I noticed some dramatic changes. We had moved to a new house and there was so much to do that for some reason I stopped drinking in at home, and because we didn’t have time to go out very much I ended up only drinking on about three or four occasions for the entire year. The year was 2009.

Just a few drinks that year

The first time I had a drink was when we went to Disneyland at Easter, I had some drinks before and during dinner the two nights we stayed there. The last was at the end of the summer when we went for an amazing al fresco dinner in London, and the wine flowed. In between, I visited my mother a two or three times, and she seemed to think that my not drinking at all meant I must have a drink problem, so I had some drinks to keep her happy. I have to admit that the drinks didn’t make me feel too bad either.

Less alcohol – more time

Not having a drink at the end of each day resulted in a number of benefits. For example:

1. During that year, I noticed that I seemed to have so much more time to do everything because my ability to concentrate and do things in a useful way wasn’t being impaired by a couple of beers or glasses of wine. It doesn’t take very many drinks to end your useful day.

2. The other thing I noticed was that my enthusiasm levels were much higher. I would wake up early in the morning and get on with things right away. In addition to getting much more work done, I had time for my other interests such as songwriting and playing the piano. I actually become interested in my job, which I normally thought of as a complete imposition on my time.

3. When things were going wrong I didn’t hide by having a drink to make the problems all go away (until the next day). My not drinking meant that I had to carry on thinking about the issues, meaning that I often resolved these problems quickly rather than letting them drag on.

Back to normal, alcohol-wise

As the holidays approached at the end of my (almost) alcohol-free year I started to have a drink with dinner at home and when people came round to visit. I didn’t worry about this unduly, because firstly it was the Christmas and New Year holidays, and secondly I was sure I would be able to repeat the feat when the new year came, and 2010 would be similarly productive and filled with enthusiasm and productivity.

Unfortunately this didn’t come to pass, and I had slipped back into my old bad habits. Not drinking excessively (in my humble opinion), but just enough to cause me to have much less productive time in the latter stages of each day. Also, the slight fuzziness in the head each morning meant that my productivity was impaired in the rest of the day too.

Here’s to alcohol-freedom in the new year

I’m writing this in October and I’m wondering what I can do to make next year another year like 2009. I think my new year’s resolutions will have to contain a clear action plan that I can follow to achieve this. Come to think of it, in 2009 I started off by saying that I wouldn’t have a drink until the end of January, then I decided to extend it to Valentine’s day. I did have a drink on Valentine’s and I remember regretting it immediately, which motivated me not to drink for the rest of the year.

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