Are you one of the many joining in with Go Sober for October or Stoptober?
These are big events trying to encourage the nation to stop drinking or smoking for the month.
Covid-19 and lockdown have played a huge part in the nation’s change of drinking habits. Drinking alcohol may seem to be a good way to relax and take your mind off the situation, but it can negatively impact your physical and mental health if you are drinking too much.
The Go Sober for October campaign challenges social drinkers to think about their drinking habits and how they can make healthier lifestyle choices.
So why have so many of us turned to drink as a way to cope? Serotonin is our feel-good hormone which plays an important role in regulating our mood so we feel happier, calmer and more focused.
During lockdown we lost many of our usual sources of serotonin.
We were no longer able to attend social gatherings, travel or do many of those things which make us feel happy and fulfilled. Many of us had less reason to get up and get dressed and take the time to look nice. And as time went on the online exercise craze calmed down and those family Zoom meetings started to peter out. So, people began looking for alternatives to their usual serotonin hits – where else could we find ways to keep us happy and maintain our serotonin when everything seemed so out of control and uncertain?
Well, alcohol can often feel like a good alternative in these situations. Images of drinking are everywhere, especially on social media telling us that alcohol is a great way to cope with the anxiety and pressure of our current life and, let’s be honest, the first drink usually feels pretty good. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. The first drink may seem to help you relax as your brain will release dopamine which is your reward hormone that also motivates you to do more. Your body feels great because the dopamine receptors are looking for pleasure, so dopamine then encourages you to have another because it seems like a quick fix. Your brain then releases other stimulating hormones which counteract the depressing and numbing effects of alcohol. These hormones aren’t in sync with each other which is why you often wake in the morning feeling anxious as those stress hormones are still in your body. This in turn makes you feel even more anxious and it seems like the only place to turn is alcohol to help you feel better. A few too many drinks also wipe out any of our hard-won feel-good hormone serotonin, leaving us feeling even worse.
In addition to this, alcohol massively affects the quality of your sleep. Because it is a sedative it prevents you from going into a proper restorative sleep, so you wake feeling unrefreshed. Long term this lack of proper restorative sleep impacts our physical and mental wellbeing.
So, we can see that alcohol isn’t the answer to coping with the challenges, restrictions and limitations Covid-19 brings.
But what about smoking?
Did you know that after only 2-12 weeks your circulation will improve and after 10 years of not smoking the risk of dying from lung cancer will be half that of a smoker?
Just one of the many health benefits that means that people have been giving up during Stop-tober for 9 years now! There are many resources to help including online information and peer support.
This year’s campaign for Stoptober, along with previous years, is founded on the evidence that if a smoker can quit for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit for good.
Are you ready to take back control of your unhealthy habits?
The first step is to really think about your drinking and/or smoking habits.
- Are these habits helpful?
- What difference would it make to your health, both mental and physical if you stopped for October?
- What other small changes could you make so you are no longer relying on alcohol to make you feel temporarily better?
- How can you support friends or family who are already committed to stopping?
Good luck and enjoy the process of feeling healthier and more positive!
About the Author: Carmen Harrington practices from her therapy room in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. As someone who has struggled with confidence and anxiety in the past, she knows how positive and life-changing hypnotherapy can be. Carmen’s specialities include Anxiety, Confidence, Addiction, Teenagers, and Phobias.
If you would like to explore how hypnotherapy can help you to reduce anxiety or to stop drinking or smoking, get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist. Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
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