One year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days.

Do you think you will last this long without alcohol?

Giving up on alcohol is a huge step and it’s not easy, I tell you.

A survey shows that about 90% of people with alcoholism relapse within 4 years after treatment. So, staying even one year sober is not as easy as it seems.

When you had your first sip of alcohol, you felt ecstatic. You felt as if nothing can stop you from having more.

After all the night outs and fun drinking sessions, you’ve decided you had enough. What do you expect from your first year of being sober?

For one, it’s a long, hard, and tedious process but it’s always a good reminder to take one step at a time.

Here’s a rundown of the lessons you will learn from staying sober for a year.

1. You Aren’t Healed – Not Yet Completely Anyway

Everything becomes normal if you do it long enough. But, you need to understand one thing – relapse does happen.

Here’s what happens during a relapse.

Brain chemistry has something to do with addiction. Alcohol releases dopamine in the reward pathway of the brain. Dopamine regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers.

As a result, the brain of people addicted to alcohol rewire its priorities. It detects alcohol as vital for survival. When this happens, people who become sober may have cravings and it’s hard to suppress.

Sobriety is a lifelong battle. Being one year sober doesn’t mean you already have a solid, alcohol-free lifestyle. You may have cravings every now and then.

You can expect to face the same difficulties as everyone else. Temptations of drinking are everywhere. It takes a great deal of courage to say “no” and reach a year of sobriety.

You need to keep in mind the goal of sobriety. It’s not about escaping the deviations of life. It’s learning how to cope and deal with whatever is going on in your life.

2. People and Moments Are More Important Than the Booze

Long ago, you always thought that the most important thing during a get together is the booze you share with people.

You celebrate joyous occasions with alcohol. Now, even if you take the alcohol away, it’s still a celebration.

When you become sober, you realize that it’s not the alcohol that makes the party alive and happy. It’s the people you share the moment with.

You will become more grateful for the memories, the moment and the people you’re celebrating with more than the alcohol.

In fact, you realize that you get to cherish the moment more since you’re not tipsy or drunk to remember.

3. You’ll Have More Energy to Enjoy Life

When you don’t spend your nights drinking until you drop, you will have more time and energy to do the things you love.

You won’t spend your weekends lying in bed because of a hangover, or your weekend mornings feeling lazy to do something productive.

You will have more time to learn new hobbies, spend time with family, and know yourself.

4. Alcohol Does Not Help You Sleep Better, Sobriety Does

It is a common myth that drinking helps you sleep better. That’s wrong!

Drinking alcohol may actually disrupt your sleep cycle, which makes you feel more tired in the morning. You also get to experience hangover the next day, making you feel worse.

In fact, a new review shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. Though alcohol makes people sleep easier and faster, it cuts back on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

When there is a disruption of the REM stage of sleep, it may cause poor concentration, daytime drowsiness, and weakness.

5. Becoming Physically Sober Should Be the Same as Emotionally-Sober

Sometimes, you drink to escape the struggles you face in life. As much as you want to become physically-sober, you need to fix yourself, too.

If you stop drinking but you make no effort to improve your life, you might just return to drinking again. So, physical sobriety is as important as emotional sobriety.

The problem is, you turned to alcohol for a reason. If you didn’t do anything to address that reason, chances are, you might easily relapse.

6. You’ll Regain Control Over Your Finances

One of the things you neglected during the high and drunk days of your life is your finances. You most likely ended up with debt because of it.

But, at one year sober, you’ll realize that you have the control over your money. You can now turn your debt-ridden free life around.

This means you’re less likely to misplace or forget to pay your bills. You’ll not overspend over drinks and night outs. You’ll have a sense of responsibility and accountability, compared to when you were always drinking.

You’ll also have more control over work. You’ll not arrive late for meetings. You’ll feel more energized, and this will help you perform better.

7. You Get to Strengthen Relationships

Alcohol can ruin relationships.

Did you know that 10% of children in the United States live with a parent with alcohol problems?

Alcohol can take a toll on your relationship with family and friends. Alcoholism wreaks havoc on the mind, body, and spirit. Families are torn apart by this habit.

If you’re married, it may ruin the marriage. If you’re a parent, the addiction becomes paramount that you neglect your responsibilities.

Being one year sober has many benefits for families. But, the most important one is being a better partner and parent.

8. You’re Healthier Being One Year Sober

When you’re drinking, you would spend many days feeling tired and like a crap. You eat loads of take away food and you’ll indulge in fattening, sugary treats.

You won’t have the energy to exercise or live a healthy lifestyle. But, being one year sober, you’ll learn more about healthy food. You will find vegetables, fruits, and other healthy choices appetizing.

Plus, you’re hydrated more now than when you were drinking. In a nutshell, you’re healthier and it shows on your physical appearance and energy levels.

Being One Year Sober Is Hard but Worth It

Being one year sober is hard but after all the difficulties, you’ll waste all the time and effort if you relapse. The best thing to do is take it slow; spend one day at a time. Focus on your goal and how much you want to stay sober.

Being healthy is a choice. And we can help when it comes to tips and tricks to a healthier lifestyle.

Check our blog site out for more health topics!

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How to Trick Your Brain into Making Better Decisions (Backed By Scientific Studies)

What are some tools to use for effective decision making? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing site where questions are answered by people with unique insights. This answer was shared by Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of Smarter Faster Better, on Quora:

Here is what scientific studies say will help you make better decisions:

Thinking through various, contradictory possibilities, and then trying to force yourself to figure out which ones are more or less likely, and why. (This is known as probabilistic thinking, and studies show that it significantly increases the quality of people’s decision making.)

Say, for instance, that you are trying to decide whether your group of rebels should attack the Death Star. Seems like an easy decision, right?

After all, the Death Star is filled with jerks, and it has a big glaring weakness (that apparently no architect considered when designing the ship): one well placed shot can blow up the entire thing.

If you are some hillbilly from Tatooine, you’ll charge off into space. You’ll think about this decision in binary terms (“The Empire=bad. The rebels=good. What can go wrong?”)

But, if you are practiced at decision making, you’ll probably do something a bit differently: you’ll sit down with Adm. Ackbar, and you’ll try to envision the dozens of different outcomes that are possible. (“We could get defeated before we make it to the ship. We could make it to the ship and not have enough X-wings.

We could have enough X-wings but then miss the shot. We could make the shot but our intel could be wrong. We could have good intel and make the shot and the Death Star blows up, but our reward is Jar Jar Binks…” You get the point.)

Now, here’s the thing: you aren’t going to be very precise at assigning probabilities to all those possibilities. (“What are the odds that our intel is bad?”) But forcing yourself to think through all the possibilities and then simply TRYING to assign odds will be really helpful in revealing what you do and don’t know.

So, maybe you are pretty certain that your intel is good, and maybe you are pretty certain that, if they can get close to the Death Star, your pilots will hit the target (because, after all, you’ve got the force on your side), but you aren’t particularly certain that you have enough X-wings to make sure that you’ll get close to the Death Star.

Now you know which parts of your plan are weakest, you know what you need to learn more about and what problems you need to solve to increase the odds of success.

Our brains, left to their own devices, prefer to think about choices in binary terms. (And, from an evolutionary standpoint, this is really efficient.)

But to make better decisions, we have to force ourselves to think probabilistically – AND THEN WE NEED TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT PROBABILISTIC THINKING TENDS TO REVEAL HOW MUCH WE DON’T KNOW.

It is scary to confront uncertainty. It can make you crazy and anxious. That’s why it is so much easier to look at choices as binary options (“I’ll either succeed or fail”) or deterministic outcomes (“I ended up married to her because she was my soulmate.”)

But if you genuinely want to make better decisions, you have to fight that instinct, and make yourself think about multiple possibilities – both the good and the bad – and be really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know (and what is knowable and unknowable.)

And then you have to take a leap, and make a decision, and see it as  an experiment that gives you data, rather than a success or failure that you should congratulate yourself on/beat yourself up about.

Because, unfortunately, the force doesn’t really exist. But probabilities do.

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