When it comes to certain behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, our body sends signals that almost always involve discomfort. For instance, we may experience nausea, dizziness, or migraines when we drink excessively. These symptoms indicate that our body has taken on more of the chemicals from the drinks than it can handle.
We may need to bring ourselves back into balance. Working with this natural feedback loop can help us stay healthy and avoid costly health problems in the future. However, consuming a few drinks at a social gathering isn't always a problem.
If your body shows signs of problems processing what you perceive as a reasonable amount of alcohol, it might be time to examine your drinking habits.
We've compiled a list of 8 signs that it might be time to reconsider your drinking habits:
1. Dealing with hangovers has become part of your morning routine.
If you find that your mornings are often set back by a throbbing headache, feeling excessively nauseated, or other unpleasant symptoms of a hangover, it may be time to step back and reevaluate your drinking habits. Studies have shown that one of the main factors in the severity of a hangover is the total amount of alcohol consumed during an evening or night out.
Reducing your usual number of alcoholic drinks can ease some of the worst hangover effects. Alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones or water can give your body a chance to process the alcohol more gradually throughout the evening so that it does not overload all at once. Making simple changes to how much and how often you drink can help keep hangovers from becoming part of your regular morning routine.
2. You lose steam faster than you used to.
Even moderate drinking can put a strain on your system. It can interfere with essential processes like sleep and digestion, which are necessary for maintaining energy levels and overall well-being.
Alcohol depletes vital nutrients from the body; it can also contribute to feelings of malaise and restlessness. If you feel burned out or lethargic but otherwise feel healthy and don't show any apparent signs of stress, it may be worth considering the role that alcohol plays in your life. Cutting back on your drinking habits can help alleviate chronic fatigue symptoms, leaving you feeling more energized and alive than ever before.
3. Feeling foggy is making you less effective at your job.
At first glance, the idea of alcohol slowing us down physically may seem pretty obvious. After all, it's well-known that excessive alcohol consumption can impair judgment and coordination and make it harder to react quickly or make quick decisions. But what many people don't realize is that our brains are similarly impacted by alcohol, leading to a feeling of mental sluggishness called "brain fog."
This feeling can be especially pronounced after a night out. For example, you may struggle to concentrate or focus on one task for an extended period of time. You may even find that your overall productivity has also taken a dip. This can be particularly frustrating if you're trying to get ahead at work or accomplish other important goals in your life.
You can take steps to overcome brain fog and regain your mental sharpness and efficiency. Quitting or cutting back on alcohol is one option many people have found effective for clearing their minds and regaining their edge at work or in other areas of life.
4. You think about alcohol more often than not.
One of the most common early signs of alcohol misuse is a preoccupation with drinking. If you find yourself thinking about alcohol or looking forward to your next drink, this may be a warning sign that your drinking patterns are becoming problematic. While this symptom alone does not necessarily indicate that you have an alcohol use disorder, it is certainly something to take seriously and to address if it persists over time.
Other early warning signs of alcoholism include having withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing your alcohol intake and experiencing negative physical or emotional consequences due to your drinking. By monitoring these early warning signs and seeking professional help if necessary, you can take steps to stop your alcohol use before it becomes a severe problem.
5. You've been feeling more anxious than usual.
Whether we're dealing with stress at work, difficulties in our personal lives, or some other source of anxiety, it's common to seek relief through alcohol. After all, drinking can make us happier, more relaxed, and more confident.
Although booze might temporarily relieve our worries, it ultimately just makes things worse if we don't cut back. The reality is that alcohol has chemical effects on the brain that can exacerbate both stress and anxiety.
Studies have shown that increased anxiety levels are associated with heavier drinking habits. The more often you drink when under stress, the more unsettled and anxious you'll feel. Alcohol also works to dampen emotion-regulating regions of the brain temporarily. Negative feelings – like fear or frustration – are heightened after a few drinks. By trying to numb our worries with alcohol, we only end up feeling worse in the long run.
6. You feel "bad" overall.
Our bodies are constantly working to process the food and drinks we consume, breaking down nutrients and eliminating waste products as needed. When we regularly drink alcohol, this process can become more complex.
As our system works to metabolize alcohol, it first breaks it down into acetaldehyde, an intermediate product that is actually more harmful than the alcohol itself. This toxic substance can linger in the body for hours or even days after we drink, causing all sorts of negative symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and more.
Suppose you are experiencing a "toxic" or "bad" feeling in your body due to heavy alcohol consumption over time. In that case, this may indicate that you need to reduce or eliminate your intake of alcoholic beverages. To support your overall health and well-being, consider limiting your alcohol intake or switching to healthier drink options like water or herbal tea.
7. Falling and staying asleep is a challenge.
Drinking even a single serving of alcohol in the evening may help you quickly fall asleep, but this rest will often be short-lived. Large amounts of alcohol before bed may leave you tossing and turning all night long. Your body takes longer to break down alcohol than to process sugars or fats; it continues to work throughout the night to process your drinks. This can cause changes in brain activity that interfere with quality sleep.
If you struggle with insomnia and notice that you are drinking most evenings, reducing your alcohol consumption could be an excellent way to help improve your sleep quality. By limiting yourself to one or two small servings of alcohol, for example, you can avoid disturbing your sleep without completely cutting out all nighttime drinks. Try limiting your late-night drinks and see if this helps.
8. Losing weight seems impossible!
By reducing your alcohol intake, you can avoid consuming unnecessary, empty calories that may thwart your efforts to lose weight. Tracking your drinks can help you reach your health and fitness goals. If you feel that your weight is unhealthy, cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink may be what you need to help you meet your goals.
When it comes to changing our behavior, such as drinking less alcohol, our bodies provide us with clear signals in the form of physical sensations. By paying attention to these signals and responding accordingly, we can avoid negative health consequences and maintain balance in our lives.
Reframe helps you keep track when cutting back with 24/7 support. By keeping a record of your drinks, you can identify possible triggers. You can also explore our meditations that curb cravings so your body can be in peak condition. Our team of experts is standing by to support your efforts to cut back. And our evidence-based habit-change daily program will help you stick to your new drinking goals. You've got this, and we're here to help every step of the way.