What Happens When You Give Up Alcohol and Coffee for a Month?

January 30, 2016

I thought I might try a number of health and wellness related experiments throughout the year, tackling something different each month.

January saw me give up alcohol and coffee. Two things I realised that, after undertaking the challenge, actually played a bigger role in my day-to-day lifestyle than I first thought.

Still, suffice to say, (at this time of writing with one day left to run in the month) I’ve successfully completed my first health and wellness related challenge of the year.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from it.

How Healthy is Alcohol and Coffee?

I went into this because I thought it would be an easy thing to start with.

I’ve never been a big drinker and I didn’t start drinking coffee until I’d graduated from University (around 23 years old).

Since then however, the presence of coffee and alcohol has increased in my life.

Living in Spain, rarely a day went by in the past year where I didn’t have a couple of cups of coffee or a glass of wine (and, at times, beer).

Giving it up, I definitely found myself missing both. Seeing people drinking morning coffees and evening wines definitely left me craving both substances in ways I’d never expect.

Yet not so much that I caved in.

But, having successfully resisted both throughout January, I’m of the opinion that a little bit of both are hardly prejudicial to one’s life.

Emphasis on the ‘little bit’.

Benefits of Alcohol and Coffee

So while I’m not going to get into the convoluted science of investigating the good and bad in both coffee or alcohol from a health-perspective I will say one thing.

Both are exceptionally good for bringing people together in social situations.

Obvious right?

This becomes even more apparent though, when you give both up.

You lose the motivation to go out. Knowing that most of what you usually do revolves around one of the two things.

For me at least, giving up alcohol didn’t bother me too much as I didn’t really feel any desire to go out at night (which I did a lot of last year) anyway. I also don’t really feel like I particularly missed out on much either.

Coincidentally (or not), I’ve become a little more productive in other areas of my life during this last month. Especially when it comes to studying, working and having greater clarity and focus about where I’d like to see my life go.

Is that related to giving up coffee or alcohol? Hard to say.

Benefits of Giving Them Up

Having spent a month ‘dry’ in the face of both things, I wouldn’t say I’m any kind of evangelical in spouting why anybody else should do it.

For me personally it was just an idea I had and I wanted to see what kind of result it would have on my life cutting back on both.

I definitely saved a bit of extra cash. But I also kept up a little cafe habit by substituting coffee with tea (which helped me not go “full-hermit” and actually keep up some social engagements).

Other than that though I think a felt a little more ‘awake’ than usual. Probably a little clearer headed. Potentially more emotionally balanced.

I also became more aware of how much time I spent previously sitting in cafes or bars reading (consuming not producing) and hanging about (not working on meaningful projects).

That’s not to say I became so aware I think I want to scorn both these places all together — I think they’re very important to helping further relationships and meet new people, only that it’s perhaps a good idea to cut back a little so I can invest time elsewhere.

As for whether this will become a full-time thing? I’m not so sure.

I think taking anything to an extreme can be inherently stressful.

And, with forever being a long time of course, I don’t think I’d want to deprive myself of the deliciousness that can be both alcohol and coffee just yet.

Take-Aways

Obviously both positives and negatives can be countered by the strong-willed or the hedonistic in equal measure.

Positives:
– Save money
– More time for other things
– Might feel more clearer headed, more energetic, more emotionally stable
– Might improve your overall fitness levels, cut weight, improve your appetite
– Might raise your level of consciousness and awareness about your health in general

Negatives:
– Alcohol and coffee tastes good
– Difficulties with cravings
– Difficulties with socialising
– Both coffee and alcohol can be used effectively as rewards or inspiration
– Both, taken to extremes, can be immensely damaging for your health

Next month’s challenge? Green smoothie every day.