I think this is the key insight from the article. I went through a stressful period where I used alcohol to wind down quickly. But in reality it just made things worse because it numbed me up to the real reasons why I was stressed out. Sometimes though, we don't want to look at the deeper issues (emotional/psychological) for why we are unhappy, and booze provides some quick and effective relief.
I've recently gotten much healthier and it's amazing to experience that the old adage about "making a lifestyle change" really is the core of it. All the different parts of your life have to hang together for the positive switch to happen. If you think of exercise and diet as a way to "pay down the debt" you'll never get out from under whatever is holding you down.
I don't disagree, but when I've tried this I just find myself doubly exhausted: once (mentally) from the work, and again (physically) from the gym. Still agree that making time for the gym is really important though. But for me, it's not the answer to mental exhaustion but rather just part of a healthy lifestyle generally (personally, proper sleep hygiene is the only solution I've found to mental exhaustion and overwork).
When you walk into the gym you need to stop thinking about work and start focusing on your workout. For me, this comes in the form of planning which exercises I'll be doing, how much weight I lifted the previous time for how many reps, and how much I can increment it. And then during the lifts, I focus on the mind-muscle connection to make sure my form is correct and I'm activating the right muscles.
Trust me, when you do it like this, it's incredibly relaxing from a mental perspective. I actually look at my gym sessions as meditation time.
It took me a few years of consistent intense training to really get into the groove of things. I've been at it for about 9 years now. This is the intensity that I aim for (mind you, this is not me in the video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAhNyvTF5Uw
After that level of intensity on a consistent basis for a few years, you adapt to it. While you may feel tired, you gain energy from it as well.
Generally speaking, I think practicing martial arts is a good thing for technical people to do. It gets you out of your head and into a feeling space. And, there are many interesting parallels between the learning process in martial arts and in programming.
If anyone is interested, this book has given me a vastly different perspective on things like exercise (or in parent's case, martial arts): http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfill...
When put in that perspective, I think exercise would greatly appeal to most hackers.
Man I want to go ride now...
For myself, I've noticed that after getting healthier, just one cup of coffee a day keeps me plenty productive. I might have a cup of tea in the afternoon. But it's a far cry from my previous 3-cups-a-day habit.
What you are saying does not make any sense. If it did boost your body metabolism, then your enzymes should be working faster at breaking down alcohol.
Working out hard is additional stress. It boosts cortisol just like job stress. Stress depletes magnesium, and so does hard exercise. You will be hurting your health, not helping it, if you're stressed out and then do crossfit type stuff. That you can't train hard and endure other forms of stress is well known among athletes.
I exercise often and hard because I'm vain, but the health benefits of exercise are way oversold in my opinion. The pyramid of good health is 60% diet, 20% sleep quality and stress, 10% social and spiritual life, and then at most 10% exercise.
For me I'm really crap at switching off from work, and I can easily torture myself at the thought that I should be working. However when I drink, I pretty much say to myself - that's enough. And likewise if I'm on my bike.
So when I'm not drinking or not exercising, I'm not relaxing, and that's just a recipe for disaster for me - the knock on effect is that my programming really suffers. I find it a very difficult cycle to break away from, despite there being a simple solution.
At least you might be giving your brain time to breathe when you are exercising.
Then in time I found the bike ride alone was all I needed to unwind. I still drink socially, but I'm planning on cutting even that back lately.
These days I have a 10 mile commute that take 30 on a perfect cycle in, 35 on a slow day and 40 when I've not been eating enough carbs at the right times. But I'm much better at planning my meals now.
For me cycling is an amazing way to start and end the day, just thinking about the road and making my Strava segments as quickly and safely as I can. Find me as liamjford on Strava if you use that.
That being said, some people can use alcohol recreationally and some are more or less destined to use it as a crutch. I'm certainly in the latter category.
I don't think that has to be true - you just need to find something else that unwinds you. I think alcohol is easy because, hey, you drink it and it does its thing. With other practices (exercise/meditation/etc) you have to put in some up-front work to see the benefits. But I believe you can do anything in 4 to 6 weeks with consistent effort.
You could make a decent case for summarizing Buddhist philosophy in this way: regular life is stressful, the source of stress is being wound up, and it's possible to practice not being wound up, through specific techniques including meditation. (That's a somewhat customized translation of the so called "four noble truths.")
One of the techniques involved in Buddhist practice, incidentally, is abstaining from habitual use of alcohol and other intoxicants. People have been experimenting with these kinds of life hacks for a long time...
This also ties in with using meditation as a quick way to relax, and unlike with booze I can get back to whatever I was doing quickly.
You should be clear about the fact that meditation, for most people, seems to be very difficult. But I purposely say "seems," because it's not difficult in the same sense that lifting a heavy weight is difficult. It's more like how it's difficult to quit smoking when there's a pack of cigarettes in front of you.
Meditation, to some first approximation at least, is about simplifying one's mental activity. Attenuating the internal monologue or at least having a less obsessive relation to it. And acquiring a critical distance from desire, anger, and other phenomena that we tend to get caught in.
When the loopy chaos of thought-proliferation subsides, you begin to see some very interesting aspects of the mind (or of consciousness, of the present moment, whatever you call it). Buddhist philosophy puts a lot of emphasis on the nature of desire and the ways in which the mind is disturbed.
But the difficulty is that when you're sitting there with your mind fully available, it's extremely tempting to wander into thoughts. And once you notice this, of course, you begin to think about not thinking. Think about how you shouldn't be thinking. And so on ad nauseum. This is all just so much chatter and you shouldn't take it seriously. Not taking it seriously -- not grasping onto it -- is crucial. That means not beating yourself up over it.
The catchphrase in contemporary meditation instruction is "just return to the practice." And it can sometimes sound like a stupefying dogma. "Just sit," and so on. But there's a crucial truth in it.
It's kind of like running. At first it's just painful, tedious, and you feel clumsy and unfit. It's supposed to make you feel good, and sometimes it does, but it's also a chore and something you often really don't feel like doing. But after a while you start to understand more about it, understand your own limits, understand how to do it in a way that's functional for you. And then it kind of "opens up."
Running and other physical exercise has more of an obvious external reference point. It's easier to "return to the practice" when you've got your running shoes on and you're actually taking step after step. In meditation, this is one reason why posture is emphasized. Maintaining a good posture -- in addition to its more obvious benefits -- is also a kind of physical reminder of the mental meditation. And the breath provides something like the steps in running.
So a widely recommended strategy is to begin with a simple breath-counting style of meditation, perhaps sitting in the seiza posture, or one of the lotus postures if you're up for it, or simply in a chair with your back straight. There's plenty of decent instructions available on the internet, although it helps in countless and immense ways to have face-to-face instruction and to sit together with others.
Like the author said, I've never noticed any physical withdrawal, but I have a strong urge to have a drink every night (sometimes even in the middle of the day). This is one of the most stressful times of my life and it's so hard not to just say "fuck it" and give up. And even when I don't really have that strong of an urge, I'm haunted by rationalizations and second guessing: "just have one," "moderate drinking isn't bad for you," etc. I'm trying to do more self tracking to prove to myself that the last one is BS.
What really sucks is I've noticed that a few beers will cause me problems with dehydration, weight gain, horrible sleep (I'm told I always freak out in the middle of the night after drinking) and yet I've developed such a tolerance that I don't even get buzzed unless I'm on an empty stomach.
Quitting was pretty hard, too, I could go a week or two without any alcohol, then I just needed to take some.
Somehow, I got the willpower to buy a bottle of wine or beer, then just empty it out slowly in the sink - that was a very strong motivator to let my body know "I don't need this".
It took several of these events over the course of two months and I was free of alcohol cravings.
Nowadays, I do still drink occasionally, but never more than twice a month, just in case.
Anyway, we had one guy that came in 4 or 5 nights a week and drank gin and tonics til he was quite drunk. He could not drink moderately, he was an alcoholic.
Until one night, he stopped. He'd almost been fired from his job because the drinking was still affecting him the next day. He saw where his life was going, and it wasn't where he wanted to go.
He enjoyed the social life of the bar, so he still came in 4 or 5 nights a week, but now he'd just drink tonic water. We never charged him, of course, and he got preferential service because we all admired the hell out him, sitting there sipping his tonic while everyone drank around him.
Still remember that guy well, I was so proud of him.
Next time don't even eat one--or just take a single bite and then smash the box. It feels strangely powerful.
I was told that it either lasts until you have kids, turn thirty, or turn into a full blown alcoholic. I took the easier way out and just quit my position.
Medical issues are horrible, especially when then happen to a SO because it puts an unsolvable problem between two people that know they love each other but slowly slide into a distance that only exacerbates the problem.
Not that I could ever properly understand what you are going through, but I've found that being patient, and actively choosing to be patient, even when you don't want to be, and being kind, even when you don't want to be, really, really help a relationship because the other person usually senses that you are choosing to do something for them.
Sometimes it is just this concious choice that gives them validation that they are cared for and the other person can pull themselves up a notch. Sometimes not, but even in those times, the funk they are in is slighly less funky.
I don't know WTF sozzled means but I'm guessing it means hungover. Can that possibly be correct? 49% of Brits are hungover on any given Monday morning???
Never understood it myself - Monday mornings are hard enough!
I'm trying to get back into it anyway.
I even got to the point where I'm exercising 5 days a week and so I go out binge drinking on the weekends much, much less.
Aside from lots of water, add add a electrolyte powder. The kind from the pharmacy intended for dehydration, not the "electrolyte" marketing crap energy drink companies use.
I don't drink at all while at home during the work week. I'm not anal retentive about it, I drink socially when I'm out with friends and chose not to be out with friends on an every evening basis in order to circumvent that "limitation".
I was surprised how much energy is actually drained of you from drinking and how much more productive you can be during those evening hours.
As an added bonus I sleep - and awake much better.
I don't tend to compensate by drinking more on weekends. If there's a difference at all I probably drink less.
For me such a schematic approach works quite well. It may not be for everybody.
I started drinking (about once a week) two years ago.
It's moderately nice from time to time, but I also think the decision to avoid it for twenty years of adulthood was a good one - I established who I am and what my coping mechanisms are for stress, and now it's a nice little social adjunct.
My advice: if you're even the least bit undecided about drinking, don't do it. You can always give it a shot later. Or perhaps you'll never drink; that's great too.
Most of my interactions with other people involved getting obliterated so I was never able to really by myself around other people.
First become a real person and develop a healthy coping mechanism for stress. THEN, maybe, think about getting your drink on.
If you drink too early in life and too often you might become a complete social retard like I did.
There is a bit of writing in the wonderfully titled "Modern Drunkard" magazine that puts it well, "The Zen of Drinking Alone" - http://www.drunkard.com/issues/03_03/03-03_zen_drinking_alon...
I would say that drinking early does not on the whole make someone a social retard, given the patterns of alcohol consumption among the communities generally deemed to be sociable, but two of the most useful things I ever learned was how to have a good night in a pub while sober and how to have a good night on my own while drunk.
I like drinking, and brewing, and would never give it up; that said, it's crazy to me that others find it so far outlandish that someone would want to abstain. It's kind of like having kids: there are great reasons to want them, and great reasons to not want them. It shouldn't be hard to appreciate both perspectives.
If you're the personality type where that's hard, then please stop drinking immediately. You'll just have to accept that. I've had too many friends in their 30s having to rebuild their lives after alcohol problems.
Just a few days ago I was muttering to myself about why I couldn't just stop caring about the opinion of an essentially meaningless person, and enjoy the excellent things around me. The moment I had a beer, I stopped worrying about them, and got on with it. The understanding that I had previously been an idiot outlasted the mild inebriation.
I will be exploring why one drink was so remarkably helpful here. In the meantime, it was helpful, and I would have been in a healthier mindset if I had drunk it sooner.
Many things -- alcohol, caffeine, food, exercise, work, video games, reading -- affect how we think and feel. We can use those effects for good and bad. The trick is to understand those effects, get the good, and avoid the bad.
Well, no, I don't. But its an unavoidable force that has and will continue to dictate almost every waking moment of my life.
Switching from one broadly socially acceptable state (drinking socially) to another broadly socially acceptable state (never drinking) does not change the level to which society dictates how you live your life. The only thing that changes is that your sobriety may be a curiosity for people that engage in drinking.
It depends. Did you switch because society told you to? You can drink if you want, or not. I'm just saying, if you drink are you doing it because everyone else is doing it or because you want to for good reason?
I made a choice to not drink, and it was based on practical concerns. I decided the negatives outweighed the positives in my case. Simple as that.
So if someone talks to you about dangers of such things as marijuana while sipping wine or beer - you're talking to either dangerously ignorant or dangerously dull person.
Or maybe you're talking to someone smart enough to realize that just because a bunch of things are in the same category, that doesn't make them equivalent.
In many US states, including the ones most frequented by HN's target demographic (CA, WA, OR, CO, etc.), being a legal user is much less of a pain than being an illegal user (and you get much better choice in goods too!)
That may be true but is irrelevant. The original claim was that someone talking about the dangers of marijuana while drinking is an idiot.
My claim is that talking about one says nothing about their knowledge of the other since they are different things. I can talk about the dangers of bear attacks while driving a car. I can talk about the dangers of flying while using a ladder.
That doesn't make me a hypocrite, it just means I'm not spending every waking moment sorting my activities and discussion points by aggregate danger level.
Not that I'm saying you're any of those things, mind you, but your analogy was fairly flawed. :)
Back to the topic, though I'd love to spider on the drugs-in-society vein, I'm glad OP documented the experience. Have a feeling it will make me much more conscience of the assisted wind-down when I grab a beer after work.
A drug is a substance which may have medicinal, intoxicating, performance enhancing or other effects when taken or put into a human body or the body of another animal and is not considered a food or exclusively a food.
It's weird, you could be hanging with a group of people who are the most socially liberal, equality-seeking types on the planet and they find out you don't drink alcohol and it's OH. MY. GOD. and suddenly they're almost as intolerant as those they oppose.
That does not mean that people should be teetotalers (in the end, only a minority of drinkers is thus affected, though a scarily sizable one); but it is important to understand that alcohol abuse is both frequent and dangerous regardless.
This didn't sound right to me, so I did some digging and found:
"In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States."
I couldn't find any data on non-fatal car accidents, but my intuition says that it would be a smaller proportion (i.e. alcohol-related accidents are more likely to be fatal).
Can you share your sources?
It's a nervous system depressant. This does not mean it makes you emotionally depressed.
It is extrememly unlikely alcohol is involved in the majority of car accidents. Please post a source.
Depressants usually have calming effects (hence the colloquialism "downers"); relaxation and removal of inhibitions are common effects (see also the OP about using drinks to wind down from stress). I don't see how that is at odds with what I wrote.
> It is extrememly unlikely alcohol is involved in the majority of car accidents. Please post a source.
You're correct, I misremembered that. The study (a) looked at drivers killed in accidents, and (b) it was alcohol or drugs. Alcohol was involved in only 40.2% of these fatalities.
If my dad was any example to go by then I think this is the right decision for me.
edit -- I'm pretty sure your second sentence appeared after I commented. In any event, I don't mean to put you out. Just curious.
I'm also OK with recreational drug use for the most part. You're free to do whatever you please on your own time, as long as it doesn't affect me. I don't feel any better than someone because I don't drink and they do, that would be silly. That's just about everyone.
The reason it doesn't outright kill you is an enormous amount of evolution to occasionally consume "somewhat overripe fruit". That doesn't mean you're evolved to chug grain alcohol like water, or get drunk every night like the goof in the article, it just means your body is quite very well used to handling a bit of fermented grapes once in awhile.
Hacking one's body, is like eating non-human food like grains or potatoes or beans or artificial sweeteners / colors / flavors.
The author didn't say he gets drunk every night, he said he drinks every night.
I have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner most nights. I get drunk (i.e. have more than one drink, feel drunk, feel worse the next morning) with a much lower frequency.
I also have a glass of wine that goes with some meals, but I don't cook "chicken in wine" every single day. Wine doesn't go well with everything. When I'm eating something unhealthy like pizza, well, you gotta have beer with pizza, but I don't eat bad food every day, so... Or even stuff in between good and bad, I had saki and sushi last weekend, close enough to natural human food to not bother me occasionally, but not eating/drinking that every day.
Of course, it's Wikipedia, so who knows if it's true ... but amazing nonetheless.
I've never had more than 1 drink in a day and usually only drink once per month out to eat when someone else is driving.
Alcoholism is scary for most of us that have seen it up close.
I'm not sure what you got out of this article that confirms your aversion to this drug. Care to elaborate?
People would look like you have 2 heads if you said you take stimulant drugs daily and have withdrawal without it, but coffee is incredibly popular.
Sometimes what you don't do is incredibly important.
I don't look down on anyone who drinks, as long as they're not getting blasted just for the sake of it. Okay...maybe I judge you if you drink cheap beer...but only in good fun!
I'm 22, and I tried wine on my own terms at a wine tasting solo the other day; I felt like I wanted to vomit. Holy crap!
I have my hobbies, and my friends, I just don't drink. Usually 'no thanks' is enough, I've found that even around new people I don't have to say 'I don't drink/smoke' mostly because I don't want to seem pretentious or judgemental. My hobbies include heavy lifting, green tea, and generally eating really healthy; barring something catastrophic, I think it'll pay off.
Well, of course. You're bucking a social norm that is generally enjoyable in and of itself, has a handful of well known reasons for abstaining, and also carries a low amount of baggage that would prevent open discussion of your reasoning. What do you expect?
I'm guessing you never been close to an alcoholic. It's a disease. Specifically it's an addictive illness. Saying it's just a little self control trivializes that it's an addiction.
I too, think alcohol is a drug with a poor value proposition. At least for me. The 'high' is rubbish, and the come down is painful.
I am also part of a minority in this respect in my culture.
I'm not doing it cold turkey though. No AC in the summer here mixed with a lifelong struggle with insomnia has given me more than a few nights of very little if no sleep. At least until Summer is over and the heat doesn't keep me awake, I'll have some wine handy to drink a bit before bed (no earlier than 7pm and I'm in bed by 8:30 or 9:00 - I get up at 4:30 am).
Before the last couple weeks when I decided enough was enough, I'd often, at least the weekend, start drinking at 4pm and take down an entire bottle of wine/saki AND a six pack of IPA.
The irony is, I eat relatively healthy and low calorie, but I've gained 45lbs in the last few years, and I'm thinking most of that is beer and wine - I rarely drink hard liquor or mixed drinks.
Other than trouble getting to sleep, I've not had any other physical symptoms, but I'm worried. 10 years of constant drinking just cant be good.
125ml red wine = 85 cal, or 510 per bottle. English style bitter is a bit better at 180 cal per pint, so on your consumption mentioned in 3rd para, that is just under 1600 calories extra per day.
My best friend kept nagging me about having a few beers with him when I visited. Since we both smoked for a short time in high school I suggested that we, instead, buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke a few while we're hanging out. "But I don't smoke anymore." Lightbulb moment.
The biggest thing i realized is that drinking is something to do. You hang out with the same people at the same bars talking about the same crap. Initially it's pretty boring when you quit but I really don't even think about it anymore. I will say that in the time since I quit drinking I had two kids, my business has seen year over year success and I've completed an Ironman triathlon.
I've actually made it a deliberate point to drink around my children to role model responsible alcohol use: Never in excessive volume, never an excessive frequency, never in response to stress or to drown unhappiness, never alone, never something that's not enjoyable as a beverage, never ever ever before driving (or motorcycling, bicycling, whatever).
I'm hoping it helps. I'll report back in in 20 years to see if my kids are better off with positive role modeling than I was with terrible role modeling.
As it turns out I socialize a lot in bars - and I don’t like bars at all when not drinking. Mocktails° help - but not enough, and basically no bars serve those in Seattle, only fancy restaurants. Which has meant more socializing at fancy restaurant bars…
In general it’s been a mildly interesting change in behavior and a pretty good experience.
° Fake beer is just bad. And I don’t like sodas. And soda water seems like ostentatious abstinence.
Edit: Thanks for the suggestions! I should clearly have asked the internet before doing this, I could have been doing it much much better :)
I suppose this depends on what you mean by "bar". I've got some friends who are mostly abstainers, and they've had some delicious mocktails at Vito's, Tavern Law, and Rumba. I treat all of those as more bar than restaurant (I don't know that Seattle has turned me into more of a booze hound, but it's certainly made my booze habit more expensive), but they've all got full food menu's and kitchens. Where are you finding that's less mocktail-friendly?
And I don’t find other cities more mocktail friendly - Seattle’s pretty impressively good at it - in the restaurant scene. And perhaps I should just be spending more time talking with the bartenders at the bars :)
When I had my first beer after that month, it was just a beer. I wasn't especially eager for it. That was heartening.
Of course not liking bars is a different thing entirely :-)
What freaks me out though is how difficult it is to hit the sweet spot. i.e. To drink, but low-moderate amounts and only irregularly. That would be ideal in my view - I don't seem to have sufficient willpower for that yet, so its zero drinks for now.
30+ days is enough to get at least a semi-objective indication of physical dependence, which is a good start.
I have come across this point multiple times in the past -- reading or conversing -- but never has a concrete source or study been cited. Not to say I don't agree with it -- anecdotal evidence is not always false.
It is really true though? I consider myself very driven and ambitious and also have a drinking habit, but know a few others who don't.
...alcoholism is often linked to non-driven, unambitious, under-achieving personality types...
(finished that for you).
Note that this was not a scientific study, it was a telephone poll.
_Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling._
Intriguing. Designed by what?
We're also all dependent on eating. Too much is a bad thing for a lot of different activities (sex, basket weaving, etc), be them addictive substances or not.
"Everything in moderation", is a good starting point.
Am I alone in thinking that he sounds like an addict? I mean, sure he didn't have a big issue sticking to his decision, but at the same time the list of changes is pretty significant.
Are action is more about not being able to control yourself with your consumption, without serious psychological and physical consequences anyway.
This brings back the crux of those who argue such subjects: some people are the "a glass with dinner" type and experience almost no effect, some people are the "six-pack at a time" type and experience significant effect, and very few in either category seem able to acknowledge the other category exists at all. Their average may be comparable, but frequency * intensity produce wildly differing results.
(In the UK this is described at 3.6 units per glass, or about 7 units per day. Safe limits for men are not more than 3 to 4 units per day, not every day.)
Or it could be 2 glasses, at 150 ml per glass, of a 10% ABV wine. That would be 1.5 units per glass, or 3 units per day.
A "serving" of alcohol is considered 0.6 fl oz, or 14 grams, of ethanol. People tend to overestimate what constitutes a "serving" of any food/drink, with consequences in line with the withdraw effects he experienced.
Not in the UK!
I think this is largely an academic discussion. Some people drink a glass a wine every day, some people binge drink once/two times a week. If you consider alcoholism to be the point at which you can't withdraw without death resulting then both groups will pass. If you consider regular alcohol consumption as a potential psychiatric problem then both groups are suspect. But both groups still have:
A) People who just drink socially/for fun.
B) People who are alcohol dependant (in terms of a psychological crutch).
P.S. Yes, I thought about if internet addiction is a real thing ;)
Either we need a new word, or we have to start reserving the label "addict" for very serious cases.
He experienced no withdrawal symptoms and was perfectly capable of taking a break from alcohol for 40 days.
It is extremely misleading to compare this with, say, a heroin addiction. Look up the documentary Cold Turkey on YouTube to see what true addiction is like.
If I started drinking milk every day, I would experience a variety of (mostly negative) physical symptoms. Doesn't mean I would be addicted to it.
The tricky thing is, I used to eat that and other foods for years without any symptoms so severe that I should obviously eliminate them.
But, after eliminating dairy and a few other foods, my day to day digestion and energy levels are consistently higher. I've tested reintroducing them.
Relating this back to alcohol, the idea is that something could have significant effects, yet they're not high enough to be an acute problem. So you can persist in a behavior that harms you, without being addicted. You just haven't realized you might benefit from stopping.
Please don't say this - it isn't supported by science.
A small amount of alcohol per week might be beneficial for some conditions, but might make others worse.
When you consider what many people see as "one drink" compared to the actual measure of alcohol we see that many people drink much more than a small amount of alcohol per week.
In the UK we use "units" as a simple public health measure. One unit of alcohol is given by serving size (in ml) * Alcohol by volume / 1000.
125 ml of wine at 8% ABV is one unit. It's hard to find wine at 8% ABV now. And if someone poured you a 125 ml serving you'd laugh and call them back.
People are much more likely to drink "a glass of wine", say 225 ml at 13.5% ABV. That's about 3 units.
UK recommendations for men are no more than 3 to 4 units per day, and not every day. For women the recommendations are no more than 2 to 3 units a day, and not every day. People should leave 48 hours clear if they have had a heavy drinking session.
Changing your habits is hard and requires thought. I've recently given up meat and am suprised at the changes I've felt and at how difficult it is to socialize (restaurants, buffets, etc.) Does that mean I had an unhealthy relationship with chicken?
After getting the kid to bed, I often work late and need to wind down fast so I can hurry up, go to bed myself, hurry up and sleep, and then hurry up and get up in the morning.
I need to work on that.
A drink before bed to me is like the inverse of waking up and drinking coffee.
I find that weird. My sleep is completely wrecked if I have something to drink beforehand - I'll go to sleep fine, but the sleep is always fitful and I don't feel rested in the morning.
Recently, I did a 42-day voluntary abstention from drinking. And, unlike everyone else I know who has tried this, I didn't cheat. It was inspired by a 21-day abstention a few months prior, which was due to a backpacking trip on which we decided not to bring any booze.
At the end of these periods I felt great, physically and mentally. After starting up again, my alcohol consumption was less than it used to be. Sleep was better than ever, and I wake up feeling refreshed - the better sleep is far and above the most noticeable effect. Generally I just feel healthier.
The social thing is a challenge, but not impossible. I actually forced myself not to go out any less, I still kept every plan with friends to visit bars, clubs, etc. Just drank a club soda. I quoted the above because I had a similar experience: when you are sober, you quickly realize that there are a few or several of your friends who you cannot stand to be around sober. You realize how annoying they are.
It was fun pushing myself for three and then six weeks. It inspired me to follow up with a three-day water fast (that was particularly painful, again I did not cheat). I am interested if any HN readers have suggestions of other self-denial tasks to try out.
Another self-denial one I've done is to not eat anything that came from a possibly harmed-before-butchered animal. Free run eggs/wild fish/well raised beef only. This is much harder than you think, since it basically means vegetarian at most restaurants unless you call ahead.
But it did teach me that my body is much stronger than I thought previously. I am better able to differentiate between "I'm bored, let's eat" or "your stomach wants food" vs. actual, your-whole-body-needs-food hunger pangs. And it hardened my resolve that there are some things I can do if you put your mind to it, which 90% of other people have no desire or will to do, but that's not a reason not to do it.
As a result of the fast, I am further distanced spiritually from the others I encounter who make promises to themselves about one thing or another (e.g. one guy wanted to try the fast with me), but then during execution, they cheat or make excuses - Something I am still guilty of, but getting better at.
Alcohol is like being wrapped in a comforter. You are warm, the world is soft, and like a child, you trust in everything turning out alright.
This has no relationship to the real world.
While I have enjoyed alcohol many times, and both drunk to excess and been a social drinker, I find that it distracts me. It distracts from what I should be paying attention to, while I'm busy feeling good and safe.
I have tried the opposite: 100% serious balls to the wall control freak & pessimism and mistrust of "everything turning out alright". I'm sad to report that that approach is no good.
I'm starting to think a decent dose of naive "it'll turn out alright" is useful.
It will turn out, how it turns out.
Sounds tautological, but it preserves the idea that multiple real world forces determine the outcome, not wishing or feeling. That might save us from paranoia.
* Don't keep any alcohol in your house
* Don't go anywhere that drinking is the primary focus, or even secondary focus
* Pick up a regular hobby that makes you happy and do it at least three times a week
* Talk to people you enjoy and join them in activities that don't involve drinking
* Put the amount of money you'd normally have spent on booze into a piggy bank and watch it grow
* Make a list of things that make you happy, and revisit it when you're feeling down (instead of revisiting booze)
* Get a buddy to abstain with you from drinking or smoking for mutual moral support
* Put an 'X' on a calendar for every day you don't drink
* If you find it difficult, give yourself an arbitrary goal date. Once you reach it, try to extend it further
* Make it easier for you to drink healthy things by getting things you need (tea infusers, pitchers, juice concentrate, water bottles, etc)
(I recently did two months, which was much harder for me than I anticipated, but I finally got over the hump and have had very little to drink for weeks. Feels nice to have more productive things to do than burn money and feel run down in the morning, and i'm looking better too!)
It would be awesome if I could do just that. And I don't even drink. Other points seem much easier though.
Exercise (running, crossfit, weight lifting, parkour, tabita, yoga, hiking, biking)
Sports (rock climbing/bouldering, soccer, baseball, basketball, autocross/road racing, roller derby, surfing, archery, sailing)
Martial arts (aikido, thai boxing, brazilian jiu-jitsu, tai chi, capoeira, kendo, eskrima/arnis, krav maga, fencing)
Dancing (salsa, merengue, swing, tango, blues, ballroom, hip hop, jazz)
Music (learn an instrument, live local shows, discover new genres, download and listen to new music)
Literature (join a book club, cheap books from thrift stores or yard sales, try fiction/nonfiction, reflect on what you read, blog it)
Blogging (research and then write about a subject you care about)
Volunteerism (soup kitchens, community gardens, local government, special needs, peace core, hackerspaces, free education community organizations, conventions, public awareness, public services, community programs)
Weird stuff (slacklining, acro-yoga, aerial silks, unicycling, juggling, rope bondage, home brewing, crafting, building models, puzzles, trivia, ham radio, blacksmithing, astronomy, woodworking, car tuning, karaoke, magic, gravestone rubbing, gardening, canning, locksport, leatherwork)