Okay, I get it. You’re a busy, successful person. You juggled your multiple, sometimes conflicting responsibilities like a pro. You put out fires left, right and centre without even batting (or losing) an eyelash. You deserve to crack open that Cabernet and treat yourself to a few glasses.
What’s the problem? There is no problem! Unless ‘treating yourself’ has slowly crept its way across your entire week to becoming an almost daily occurrence. Remember the cardinal rule of happiness: you can always have too much of a good thing, and wine is no exception.
Alright, stop wining! I get it! But surely a few glasses before bed isn’t the end of the world.
Hey, I’m a lover of two things: wine, and letting people live their lives how they choose. But it’s all too easy to let a little nightly indulgence become a health-threatening habit. Let’s review the potential long term consequences:
- It makes you fat. Wine is not only packed with sugar, the alcohol promotes both fat and water retention, and can make you overeat if you’re drinking while you’re hungry. A few glasses a night adds up over time!
- It’s hard on your liver. Telling yourself “No big, the liver is a wonderous organ that regenerates itself over time. Like a lizard.” is conveniently soaring over two key words: over time. Alcohol is hard on the poor little liver, and it needs more than 24 hours to recover from a nightly bottle of wine. Disregarding this can lead to chronic liver disease over the long term.
- It’s hard on your skin. Alcohol severely dehydrates you, which has obvious effects on your skin, and can make you look, ahem, wise beyond your years. Eep!
- You don’t sleep well. Even a single nightcap can disrupt your sleep patterns, and give you less time in the critical REM phase of sleep. This leaves you a bit off the next day, at best, and exhausted at worst. This adds up over time to some serious fatigue and all the hell that goes along with it.
- Makes you feel you’re at the mercy of an ‘addiction’. Often times, it’s not the wine itself you’re hooked on, but it’s the ritual of ‘shifting gears’ that you’ve gotten so comfortable with. We’ll address some psychological ways of getting around this below.
- It makes you less frisky. Long-term alcohol consumption can affect things like fertility and depletion of testosterone in men, not to mention hardening of the arteries which causes less blood flow.
Now, how’s that bottle looking now? Breaking a habit isn’t fun, but here are some easy hacks to make it a bit easier for you.
1. Take Breaks
Set a few days a week where you don’t drink any alcohol. Start with just one or two, and then if you’re finding that to be a cinch, work up to three or four. If you find you’re cheating (“Oh, you know, I’ll just do 2 this week. It’s been such a week”), keep a running ticker that carries over to the next. So if you do 2 one week and meant to do 3, next week do 4. This quickly adds up!
2. Replace the Liquid
This addresses the point above about being hooked on the ‘ritual’ of drinking wine. One of the easiest things I’ve found is to replace that wine with, say, cranberry juice. Psychologically, your mind still recognizes this as what you were doing before, just sans alcohol.
Or, think about tea! Chai, green, herbal… the sky is the limit in the world of tea! Sure, tea might not be the funnest thing in the world, but you know what also isn’t fun? Crippling cirrhosis.
3. Start a New Ritual
There are plenty of other things to indulge in. If you find you like to crack open a bottle at 8:30, try a nice hot bath instead. Or buy a pizza and gorge to your heart’s content. Whatever else you find activates that relaxation and reward zone of your brain.
4. Buy Only What You Drink
Sorry in advance if you have a cellar full of wine. For those of us who live more modestly, it’s easy to quaff back the vino if it’s readily available, but making a point not to buy any on days where you aren’t slamming it back is an obvious win.
5. Don’t Turn to Wine at the Drop of a Hat
Do any of these sound familiar?
- “I just had to have wine after that date/get together/workplace stressor/major milestone/significant achievement.”
- “What a day! I accomplished so much. Where’s the wine?”
- “I can’t believe she called me pregnant! I need a glass of wine.”
Reaching for the wine during a “special occasion” is all well and good, until you find that every day is turning into a “special occasion”. Try and retrain your mind to dealing with the normal stressors and successes of life by not immediately guzzling down the good stuff.
There you have it! By following these steps you’ll be a healthier, happier you, and you can have your wine and drink it, too. If that’s not a win/win, I don’t know what is.