Hi this is Anne Malatt with self-care moments and this is a moment on drinking.
When we are born, we are around 90% water and as we age we progressively dehydrate, until we are about 50% water when we die.
We are designed to drink water to keep us hydrated, but we have devised ways and means to add all sorts of things to that water which actually dehydrate us, caffeine and alcohol being prime examples.
Or we add sugar to make the water taste sweeter, and this sugar, especially in its concentrated varieties, rots our teeth, speeds us up, adds unnecessary calories to our daily intake and is one of the main causes of our increasing rates of obesity, especially in children. It may also set us up for the habit of looking for sweet drinks later in life, including in the form of alcohol.
Caffeine in drinks picks us up in the short term, but it depletes our energy levels and blood sugar, so we can end up feeling even more tired and drained after it wears off, and looking for sugar and more coffee to pick us up again, so that by the end of the day we are looking for alcohol to settle us down and take the edge off it all.
We were told for many years that drinking alcohol was good for us and there were medical studies that supported the use of alcohol and many doctors were more than willing to endorse these studies and use them to justify drinking alcohol, for their patients and for themselves.
But we now know that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and that drinking alcohol increases the risks of many illnesses and diseases.
Why do we need these studies to confirm what our bodies already know? Anyone who has had a few drinks and woken up with a hangover or even just a thick or fuzzy head; anyone who has drunk alcohol and found themselves thinking, saying or doing things they would never do when they were sober; anyone who has been in an alcohol fuelled accident or fight, knows that drinking alcohol is not good for us.
So why do we do it? What does alcohol do for us, that we are willing to override the knowing of our bodies and continue to drink it after experiencing these ill effects? Some of us may think we need to drink because our family does, our partner does, our workmates do, our sporting team or social group does, because science supports us to think we know better than our bodies, or just because we are moved to do so, without really understanding why.
We are raised and educated to think that drinking alcohol is a normal part of daily life, and even that we need to drink. Alcohol lubricates our relationships, our social interactions, our celebrations. It is a treat, or reward, which picks us up at the end of the day, takes the edge off how we are feeling, numbs our discomfort and dulls our busy minds, so we think we are relaxed. But in that numb and dull state we are not ourselves, for alcohol opens us up to energies that can make us act in ways that are not the truth of who we are … and we can do, say and think things that we live to regret, adding shame and guilt which fuels our need to drink.
So let’s say we realise that alcohol is harming us and we would like to cut down or even stop, where do we start?
For me, the honesty that I did not love to drink, but I needed to drink to take the edge off how I was feeling, was a great place to start. From there I worked, not on trying to stop drinking, because with all the will in the world I had not been able to do that, but on dealing with my unresolved feelings, one step at a time. And gradually as I rebuilt my sense of self-worth, my self-care, and my love for myself, there came a time where I felt so good that having a drink made me feel worse, not better.
And from there it was simple to stop. Anything that makes me feel worse in my body is not something I now want to repeat for too long, and drinking alcohol is one of the things I have let go of along the way.
Now when I feel thirsty I drink water and herbal tea and am refreshed, revived and rehydrated when I have a drink!
If you think you may be drinking too much alcohol, you probably are, knowing that even one drink is not good for you. So consider looking at why you drink and you may just find that waiting inside you is a younger you who does not like the taste of alcohol, but who loves you, just as you are … and let that essence of you and the knowing of your body, guide your way through life.