Each year, Ash Wednesday signals the first day of Lent. Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter.
Lent is traditionally viewed as a time when people give up luxuries to become more self-disciplined.
If you choose to give up alcohol for Lent, you do not need to view this as a punitive measure. By reframing your attitude toward Lent and focusing on the many benefits delivered by a month of sobriety, you may begin a lifestyle you want to continue beyond Easter and into the new year.
Giving up Drinking for Lent
If you have decided to give up alcohol for Lent, this is one of the healthiest lifestyle decisions you could make.
Lent represents sacrifice, so choosing to quit alcohol for a month suggests that you might have some problematic drinking patterns you would like to normalize. Perhaps you’re sober curious or you are simply re-evaluating your relationship with alcohol.
Whatever your reasons for deciding to remain sober during Lent, here are some benefits and roadblocks to expect on your journey.
- You may feel uncomfortable during the first week or two
- Reframe your attitude towards giving up alcohol for Lent
- Take advantage of abstinence from alcohol to treat yourself
- Access support online and offline if you find giving up alcohol for Lent becomes overwhelming
- Your overall health improves
- You will notice an uptick in mental health
- Your energy levels start improving
- Sleep patterns normalize
- You’re saving money
- Sobriety gives you the chance to deal with problems in healthier ways
1) You may feel uncomfortable during the first week or two
If you drink heavily, or even if you exceed moderate drinking guidelines, you may find that complete abstinence from alcohol is initially uncomfortable.
Prepare for this in advance by creating a list of things you can when the urge for an alcoholic drink strikes. This could be a great opportunity to take up a new hobby or to re-engage with an old hobby.
2) Reframe your attitude towards giving up alcohol for Lent
Those who struggle during the first week or so of abstinence from alcohol might benefit from focusing fully on the many benefits of sobriety for Lent. These may include:
- Better sleep
- No hangovers
- More money
Approach sober Lent as a chance to experiment with a healthier way of lifestyle that will deliver manifold benefits rather than viewing this forty-day period as a sacrifice. This shift in mindset could help you to resist temptation and stay sober.
3) Take advantage of abstinence from alcohol to treat yourself
There is no need to spend the forty days of Lent depriving yourself. On the contrary, take full advantage of this period to double down on self-care.
How can you spoil yourself while still upholding the spirit of Lent? Consider the following:
- Bubble bath
- Good food
- Fresh flowers
- Tai chi
4) Access support online and offline if you find giving up alcohol for Lent becomes overwhelming
If you quit alcohol for Lent after a period of heavy drinking or abuse, you may find that the months presents many challenges.
Remember this: you can reach out for help any time you need it.
- Follow Twitter hashtags like:
Speak with trusted loved ones if you still feel that you need more support.
5) Your overall health improves
As soon as you stop abusing alcohol, you’ll notice an improvement in your overall health.
Without the empty calories from alcohol, you could lose weight, and you’re likely to look more toned.
You’ll find your blood pressure will improve, and your circulation will also be more vigorous.
As you move into sobriety and sustained recovery, you’re likely to start exercising more, continuing to make your body fitter and stronger rather than barraging it with alcohol.
6) You will notice an uptick in mental health
While many people self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, alcohol (along with many illicit drugs) is a CNS depressant.
If you are self-medicating the symptom of a mental health condition like depression with alcohol, you will get nothing but the most fleeting relief. Not only are you doing nothing to address the underlying issue, but you’ll make it worse over time.
You should find your mood lifts and symptoms of depression start fading as you move from regularly drinking into a month of abstinence for Lent.
Drink and drugs can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety, so you may find any issues with anxiety start normalizing once you’re sober.
7) Your energy levels start improving
Not only will your physical and mental health improve once you’re sober for Lent, but you may also find a spike in your overall energy levels.
This increase in energy will usually start becoming apparent after a couple weeks of sobriety. If you harness this newfound energy, you should find your productivity, strength, and fitness levels also start noticeably improving.
8) Sleep patterns normalize
When you drink alcohol, for instance, this disrupts your REM sleep. This is the deep sleep you need to wake feeling rested and recharged.
Although it takes time, once you move further into abstinence, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep, and you’ll also find it easier to stay asleep. This is one of the most precious gifts sobriety can offer. You can also embrace each day without being handicapped by a hangover. You may find that reaping these benefits causes you to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol after Lent.
9) You’re saving money
Think about how much you spend each day on drink or drugs and work out how much you could save each by remaining sober for Lent.
Try saving even half of the amount you were previously spending on substances. Not only will you have more money in your pocket, but you can also invest your savings and make your money work for you rather than being a slave to a substance.
10) Sobriety gives you the chance to deal with problems in healthier ways
According to the disease model of addiction, many people self-medicate problems with alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.
Once you start dealing with your emotions rather than trying to blot them out with substances, you may find you start making more effective decisions, and you should also find you come up with superior solutions to life’s everyday obstacles when you’re sober. A month of sobriety for Lent may be enough to encourage you to pursue a healthier lifestyle for the rest of the year.
Giving Up Alcohol at Renaissance Recovery Center
Perhaps you feel it is time to give up alcohol for good, not just for Lent. If so, we can help you build the firmest foundation for ongoing sobriety here at Renaissance Recovery in Orange County.
We offer a variety of outpatient programs for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders. Choose from the following options depending on the severity of your alcoholism and your personal circumstances:
- OPs: outpatient programs
- IOPs: intensive outpatient programs
- Virtual IOPs: remote rehab programs
- PHPs: partial hospitalization programs
- Dual diagnosis: for alcoholism with co-occurring mental health disorder
If you require a supervised medical detox to streamline alcohol withdrawal, reach out to Renaissance and we can connect you with licensed clinical detox centers throughout Southern California.
Regardless of the treatment intensity that best suits, you will have access to a personalized range of evidence-based and holistic treatments. These include:
- Psychotherapy (CBT or DBT)
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Family therapy
- Experiential adventure therapy
At Renaissance, we are here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond. When you complete your treatment program, you can either transition to a less intensive level of care or move directly into sober living and ongoing recovery. You will be equipped with a robust aftercare plan including relapse prevention strategies and access to our alumni program.
Start the process of reclaiming your life from alcohol addiction by reaching out to admissions today at 866.330.9449.