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  • Jessica Harris

A New Picture.

I am so happy to say that I just got back from the most relaxing and memorable staycations that I have ever taken with my hubby and it involved ZERO alcohol drinks! We typically plan these staycations to escape for a few days of rest, relaxation, and time away from our daily responsibilities. Now that I am back home and reflecting, I realize that our previous trips may not have been exactly what I thought they were.

I have heard the one or two servings of alcohol a day typically will not have detrimental effects on our overall health, but what about a large amount of short-term consumption otherwise known as binge drinking? The truth is, I have never gone on a weekend staycation or a family vacation with my hubby and limited my consumption to one or two drinks per day. So that means we typically binge drink during an entire trip! Since binge drinking has a very powerful effect on our mood and mental state I have to ask myself if we were really enjoying our past vacations?

Were we really as relaxed and rested as we should be?

Author Leslie Samuel | The Nervous System offers some perspective on how alcohol really impacts our bodies by describing three categories of nuerotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages to/from the brain):GABA, dopamine, and endorphins. Alcohol increases the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which reduces excitability in the brain. Basically, it sedates the drinker, which is why we see drunken people slurring their words, having trouble walking, and having trouble remembering things. Dopamine is released when we feel pleasure and at first it is released in excess when drinking. This is why people tend to feel happy and more social when drinking. Over time, high dopamine from booze can cause a person to not feel any pleasure unless they are drinking which contributes to addiction. Alcohol consumption causes a release of endorphins which are made by the central nervous system. Endorphins counteract physical pain and create a feeling of euphoria. This euphoria, or “buzz” is the same release of endorphins we get when laughing or exercising. While this sounds great, over time, high endorphin levels can lead to altered decision making, depression, low sex drive, low testosterone, infertility, and extreme fatigue.

The Sleep Foundation also explains that drinking alcohol before bed can interrupt your circadian rhythm, blocks REM sleep, aggravates breathing problems and leads to extra bathroom trips. All of this causes you to wake before you are truly rested and causes you to feel groggy and unfocused.

So rather than leaving a vacation rested and relaxed, this scientific research puts in to perspective what our vacations were probably really like all along. Let me paint a picture… Our vacations would seem so short and the days would just fly by. We would drink booze all day long by the pool and then crash in the afternoon for a long nap. We would wake up having a “nap hangover” feeling groggy, parched, and sometimes cranky. We would get the party started again by throwing on some awesome music, start drinking again while snacking on an appetizer and getting ready for dinner. Then we would pay for an Uber to get us to a restaurant and we would order tons of expensive food and drinks. We would leave the restaurant ridiculously full and not even remember how great our meal was the next day. We would Uber back to the hotel and continue drinking while hanging out on our patio, playing games, and talking about completely random things. Sometimes we might even end up having an argument because we misunderstood what the other person was saying or because we thought our statement/topic was more important or rational than the other persons. Or, we may end up having what seems like a super romantic, intimate, or sexy encounter only to find that it took forever, we barely remember what it felt like and maybe even end up slightly embarrassed about something we said or did. Ultimately, we would crash and sleep off the booze and wake up super late the next morning only to start the process all over again.

Surely, someone can relate to our typical vacation fun right?

Well, this time around we were sober the entire time and it is was REWARDING, MEMORABLE, and ROMANTIC. We both left our weekend staycation rejuvenated, happy, and feeling euphoric. So, let me paint you a new picture…

  1. We woke up each morning. So early, that one morning we hiked into the boulders and watched the sunrise while sipping our coffee.

  2. We took a nature walk/hike before 7 a.m. because we had the energy, we were well rested, and we had no hangover.

  3. We explored the resort, watched the wildlife, enjoyed the spa facilities, read our books, and went swimming. We filled our days with relaxing and fun activities that we might not have done in the past.

  4. We saved a TON of money by not buying booze at the pool all-day and during meals and not paying for Uber rides.

  5. We remember how gloriously yummy our meals were and we made wiser food decisions. For example, we opted to share two meals, which was great for our waistlines and great for our pocketbooks.

  6. I didn’t have to go back and reread chapters from the awesome book I was reading poolside- Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks. Find it here.

  7. We had meaningful conversations and I am fairly certain my husband would say that I did not babble and talk obnoxiously loud all hours of the night.

I think I like this new goal of mine!

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