This may come as no surprise, but did you know that one of the many hangovers of the pandemic is increased alcohol consumption? Data shows a 14% increase in the number of drinking days per month since the start of Covid-19 and a 41% upturn in heavy drinking days among women.
But it doesn't take a pandemic for alcohol to slowly take on a larger role in your life than you'd like.
Like many of us, are you asking yourself if you'd be better off without alcohol, or at least with less alcohol in your life? If so, welcome to the sober curious club.
Many people find themselves in a position where, although they're not suffering from full-blown alcohol addiction, they start questioning the role that alcohol is playing in their life.
Fatigue, gnarly hangovers, depression, missed fitness goals, poor sleep, etc (you get the idea!) are some of the common experiences that alcohol often contributes to.
If you're in this camp where you’re thinking it might be time to make a lifestyle change, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the sober curious movement.
Sober Curious Meaning Defined
Sober curious means to be curious about the effects alcohol might be having on your life, and how reducing or eliminating alcohol might benefit you. Some people who join the sober curious movement eradicate alcohol completely. Others reduce their regular intake or reserve it for specific occasions.
If you suspect you're a "gray area" drinker who doesn't qualify as an alcoholic but is questioning the addictive qualities of alcohol, becoming sober curious can help you establish what your ideal relationship with alcohol is.
Or, maybe you don't feel any level of dependence on alcohol but are still questioning its value in your life.
Becoming sober curious can help you explore why you drink, how it makes you feel in the greater context of your routine, and what would change if you modified your drinking or stopped entirely.
What to Expect Being Sober Curious
For many, one of the biggest obstacles to becoming curious is the unknown. What will life be like if I reduce or limit my alcohol consumption?
Here are some of the things you can expect on the sober curious journey.
Sleep is one of the most fundamental contributors to good health. Great sleep can leave you more focused, more socially and emotionally intelligent, and better able to perform. It can also help prevent weight gain, lower your risk of heart disease, prevent depression, decrease inflammation, and more.
Unfortunately, alcohol can wreak havoc on one's sleep cycle. Initially, having a drink or two can make you feel extra sleepy. But, this drowsy effect only lasts for a few hours.
Because alcohol is a sedative, it can make you fall into a deep sleep faster. But, as the night goes on, this can create an imbalance in your sleep cycle, causing you to spend more time in REM sleep (the lightest stage) than in slow-wave sleep (the deepest stage).
Have you ever had a late night out only to wake up early and anxious? Your body probably went into lighter and lighter cycles of sleep until it wasn't able to descend into slow-wave sleep anymore.
Alcohol can impact your energy in multiple ways. If it's disrupting your sleep patterns, this will automatically leave you feeling less energized when you wake up.
Alcohol also places a toxic burden on the body. If you've ever had a bad hangover, you know how much alcohol can zap your energy.
Even if you're not feeling hungover, you might still be suffering from alcohol-related energy depletion.
Mental Health Impacts
One of the reasons people drink is to escape feelings of anxiety and stress. Although pouring yourself a drink might relieve the tension of a tough day, it doesn't do much for one's overall mental health.
Drinking alcohol can actually exacerbate anxiety. Stopping or reducing alcohol can give you a mental edge and enhance mental health.
Identifying Linked Habits
Becoming sober curious might also help you spot linked habits. Are you not an official smoker, but tend to light up when you're out drinking?
Or maybe you find yourself binging on pizza once you've had a couple of drinks? Or, maybe you're pretty consistent with your exercise routine, but you've noticed that on the mornings after drinking you ditch the dumbells for a doughnut?
You Might Experience Urges You Didn't Realize You Had
If alcohol is just a part of your routine and daily life, you might be shocked at how much your brain and body craves it once you take it away, or limit your intake.
Mild alcohol dependency can sneak up on you, especially if you live in a society where alcohol is widely accepted. Fortunately, there are many ways to navigate cravings, which we'll get into below.
Experiencing Social Connection Without Alcohol
Alcohol is pretty much synonymous with most after-hours social occasions. It's renowned as the ultimate social lubricant. Therefore, it might come as quite a surprise when you realize that you can connect just as deeply with others without it.
More Room for Functional Drinks
One of the hidden drawbacks of alcohol is it can crowd out healthier beverages. For instance, if you're in the habit of drinking a nightcap, you're probably less likely to enjoy herbal tea before bed.
Alcohol can also leave less room in your day for functional beverages. Functional beverages have exploded in popularity as people seek out ways to enhance their well-being and health.
Tips for Starting Your Sober Curious Journey
Are you still feeling motivated to get sober curious? If so, here are a few tips to help you get started and gain momentum.
Practice Urge Surfing
If you find yourself craving a drink, try out urge surfing. Instead of feeling compelled or panic-ey when the urge hits, relax into the feeling, tell yourself it will pass, and surf the urge.
Find a Beneficial Alcohol Replacement for Social Occasions
One of the biggest challenges around cutting back or eliminating alcohol can come when you have to attend a social event. Instead of wandering around with a glass of water or a sugar-laden soda, set yourself up for success and find a few healthy replacement drinks.
For instance, you could pick up a CBD raspberry seltzer (excuse our shameless self mention) and enjoy the relaxing effects and benefits of CBD. You could also opt for a seltzer water with lime and bitters or a non-alcoholic beer. Luckily, thanks to the growing popularity of sobriety, many establishments are carrying plenty of mocktails and non alcoholic options as part of the norm.
Try Out New Ways to Trigger Dopamine Release
One reason why alcohol is addictive is it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. If you're feeling drawn to drink, one of the best hacks is to identify new dopamine-triggering activities, such as meditation, exercise, yoga, or sports.
Seek Out Resources
Lastly, crowd your feed with resources that can help you stay motivated and focused on your sober curious journey. Find a good sober curious podcast, pick up a sober curious book, or join an online group.
Looking for a Functional Drink to Replace Alcohol?
Becoming sober curious can help you establish what kind of relationship you want with alcohol, and evaluate its current impacts. Instead of letting it insidiously dictate your actions or affect your well-being, you can shift the tables.
Are you looking for a functional beverage you can leverage in place of alcohol on your sober curious exploration?
Browse our range of delicious CBD seltzers, infused with locally sourced and processed CBD.