Op Ed: 6 reasons why I gave up alcohol
By JAKE KALKSTEIN
After an epic night of drinking this past New Year’s Eve, I woke up to a nasty hangover. I felt severely nauseous, dizzy, and dehydrated. I had a grueling migraine as if someone had thrown a bowling ball at my head. Worst of all, I was overwhelmed with intense feelings of regret. Indeed, I had inflicted this pain on myself.
That morning, as I had done amid virtually every hangover, I told myself that I would never drink again. However, this time I truly meant it. I was finished. No more hangovers. No more wasting my money. No more bad decisions. No more regret.
Almost two months later, I have stuck to my impromptu New Year’s resolution. And while it hasn’t been easy, I’ve persisted. Today, I feel healthier, sharper, and more productive than ever. Giving up alcohol was truly one the best decisions that I’ve made.
Below are six reasons you should consider giving up (or limiting) alcohol.
- Saving money. The average college student spends nearly $900 per year on alcohol. That is thousands of dollars over years of consumption. Sure, drinking can be fun. But is it really worth the financial burden? Is it really adding that much value to your life? These are questions that only you can answer. But life is far too short to waste hard earned dollars on anything that doesn’t enhance, improve, or add value to it. As a monetary decision, giving up alcohol makes perfect sense. This money could easily be saved, invested, or spent elsewhere.
- Better physical health. Alcohol has a myriad of negative effects on the body in the short and long term. Quitting not only improves the functioning of your brain, liver, pancreas and kidneys. But it also enhances your skin complexion and boosts your overall energy and sex drive. You will lose fat, gain muscle, and have better performance at the gym. You will even have a reduced risk of cancer. Best of all, you will finally say goodbye to those dreaded hangovers. Overall, you will have never felt healthier. Your body will thank you.
- Improved mental health. Alcohol consumption elevates depression, anxiety and stress. It also destroys countless brain cells which can result in short and long term memory loss. Alcohol mitigates fine motor skills, sound decision making, and overall judgement. Quitting reduces stress and enhances mood. You will have greater mental clarity, focus and concentration. Your performance at school and/or work will improve. Most importantly, you will develop a better sense of yourself. This will significantly enrich your life and those around you.
- More productivity and free time. Once you move on from alcohol, you won’t waste any mornings (or days) nursing debilitating hangovers. You will still go out, but not as often. This means spending less time entangled with the partying lifestyle and more time on completing important tasks. You will be more productive at school and your job. Your grades will improve considerably and-who knows?-you may even get a raise! Most importantly, you will have newfound time and energy to pursue different projects and goals, and to branch out and grow. For example, I have redoubled my commitment to reading and meditating every day, and have even begun training for my first triathlon! Look forward to surprising yourself and those around you with all that you will accomplish.
- Improved relationships. When you are inebriated, your pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s decision making software, isn’t functioning properly. Therefore, you are more likely to be outwardly emotional and confrontational. This, of course, can be highly taxing on relationships. Whether it is with friends, family, or that special someone, it is unhealthy to be incessantly fighting and having to apologize and make up. This tears at the seams of relationships. Quitting alcohol ensures that you are not the one provoking such toxic incidents. And, when such incidents do occur, they will be more easily resolved or mitigated. Generally, this will make you more secure, fulfilled, and satisfied with your relationships.
- Less regrets. Since alcohol impedes your judgement, you are susceptible to making severe, potentially life altering mistakes. This does not simply mean misplacing your phone or wallet at the bar, or sending a friend an annoying text. Indeed, your decisions could harm both yourself and others. For example, getting behind the wheel of a car (or allowing someone to do so), provoking fights, or having unprotected sex with strangers.
Giving up (or limiting) alcohol enables you to act with prudence and be in control of allyour decisions. As a result, you will feel liberated and empowered, and will finally have peace of mind. Indeed, your only regret will be that you hadn’t done it sooner.