While you may enjoy wine on a daily basis and indulge in harder adult beverages over the weekend, you might want to consider cut back on alcohol. Sure, it’s nice to unwind with your favorite pinot noir after a particularly long day at work, and it’s fun to down a few shots of vodka on a Saturday night. However, experts warn that regular drinking could be putting your mental, physical, and financial health in jeopardy.
Here are 10 reasons to cut back on alcohol, or to consider quitting the habit altogether.
1. You’ll save money
Unless you’re purchasing very inexpensive bottles of wine, sipping on your favorite drink can slowly drain your bank account. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average American spends about $1 of every $100 on alcohol. Don’t forget that it hits your wallet harder when dining out; between 1982 and 2011, prices for alcohol in dining establishments spiked 79%.
It all adds up. A couple of $12 margaritas here and there, coupled with enjoying beer and wine in your own home isn’t exactly doing your savings account any favors.
2. You’ll sleep better
While you may swear that a stiff drink helps you sleep better, that’s not really true. While it may help you fall asleep faster, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that excessive alcohol use disrupts sleep by negatively impacting brain function and the chemical processes responsible for proper rest.
A solid night’s sleep is essential for overall health, but feeling fatigued during the day, foggy memory and wakening up multiple times a night are just some challenges you can experience when relying on alcohol to “help” you sleep (or when simply overdoing it every few nights).
3. Your senses will heighten
When Kelly Fitzgerald—a self-dubbed “party girl”—quit alcohol for an entire year, she explained that her senses were heightened “100x.” Smells, emotions, taste, and hearing were magnified, something she says makes her extremely happy. She’s feeling real emotions, without reliance on alcohol. “This ‘feeling everything’ thing can be extremely overwhelming at times, but I’ve never felt something so amazing,” she says.
4. Your self-esteem will soar
Alcohol is sometimes called “liquid courage” but going without it is actually better for your self-esteem. Too much drinking can prompt behaviors that are out of step with your genuine personality and life desires, putting your perpetual state of self-destructing thoughts and actions. Cutting back on alcohol forces you to engage with the real you, make wiser personal decisions, and improve self-worth.
5. You’ll get rid of toxic friendships
If every get-together is based solely on what restaurant has the best happy hour, then it may be time to ask yourself what these friendships would be like without alcohol as the underlying commonality. You’d be surprised at how the conversations and laughs can flow without alcohol, and how friendships can feel more genuine. Without alcohol as the common denominator, you’ll gravitate towards relationships that are less toxic and add deeper meaning to your life.
6. Your physical and mental health will improve
After five drinks, there’s a 44% decrease in testosterone. If you drink while taking certain medications, you could experience everything from an increased heart rate to death. For many people, drinking intensifies anxiety. Excessive alcohol use can lead to liver problems, stroke, and cancers of the breast, colon, or throat—and the list goes on.
The point is that frequent alcohol consumption impairs the way your body functions, messes with your hormones and greatly alters your mind. Cutting back can vastly reduce your risk of facing serious health consequences.
7. You’ll remain sexually responsible
According to the CDC, alcohol consumption is linked with risky sexual behaviors, with many people becoming involved in encounters that boost their chances of developing sexually transmitted diseases. Be mindful of how much you drink, and don’t allow yourself to get out of control—your health depends on it.
8. You’ll be more mindful
Without focusing so much on how you can’t wait to have a glass of wine after work, you’ll be able to hone in on other aspects of your life. You’ll notice that you’re more focused on the present.
9. You’ll keep your weight in check
While there are tons of light beers and low-calorie “skinny” vodkas, the benefits are undermined when you drink several of them in the course of an evening. Plus, drinking alcohol can cloud judgment and cause you to throw caution to the wind, which could spell trouble for your waistline when you reach for unhealthy snacks and extra portions. Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink allows you to fuel your body with more nutritious options, keeping your weight on track.
10. You’ll have more energy
Hangovers are real energy-zappers, and some people don’t even have to drink much to experience that lingering groggy feeling the day after. Most of us have been there: walking slowly, wearing a blank expression, feeling moody, tired and easily agitated by a chipper colleague or loud sounds. What fun is that? Ditch that third glass of wine and look forward to the next day, when you’ll have more energy and feel prepared to face the world rather than avoid it.