What's your self-conversation about alcohol like?
Alcohol is a big part of our culture and society; we use it to celebrate, commiserate, de-stress, escape, wind down and everything in between. The majority of people drink it. In fact you're definitely the odd one out if you don't.
My relationship with alcohol definitely wasn’t anything unusual. I was quite happy to drink on a night out at uni and a couple of years ago, one of my requests at my hen do was 'to not let the bubbles run dry'! On busy weekends, it has been a way to de-stress and almost to 'claim’ or delineate leisure time.
What surprised me was that when I got an electronic fitness tracker, despite their drawbacks and inaccuracies, it consistently showed that my resting heart rate went up when I had a drink. Alcohol also affects our sleep hugely. Yes, it helps us drop off faster, which many people find useful, but you sleep more lightly, have less REM sleep and wake up more often.
As a chemistry teacher also, I teach about how highly toxic alcohols are (this explains the increase in heart rate too, as despite alcohol being a sedative, the body is having to work hard to get rid of the alcohol). Some PTs are happy to suggest that as long it fits into your daily calories then it’s ok, but all the evidence suggests that it is just so poor for our health – and I therefore cannot see how it is logical or helpful to promote it in anyway.
I completely appreciate the conundrum here. We absolutely cannot ignore just how ingrained it is within our culture. Most of us are brought up thinking it is completely normal to drink, and cannot contemplate a social occasion without it. I do enjoy a social drink on occasion (at the moment), but I know that it is harmful for me, and my message on social media will always be that it is harmful to us. I will continue to question and evolve my decisions around it – as I hope other people do too.
I would really like, in writing about this, to promote a lot more respect for many of the conversations and norms that are changing around alcohol. Let’s accept that we each have the right to make our own choices about it - no matter what they might be or how alien they may seem!