Alcohol & Mental Health: Take The 30-Day Tracking Challenge With Our Free Template
By Ian Andersen
Posted: May 02, 2022
Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health awareness month to raise awareness about mental health and help ensure it’s discussed and taken seriously.
Being that we work in alcohol health at Sunnyside, our team has always been open about mental health, helping ensure our employees needs are met, and that we do our best to decrease the risk of burnout or other mental health issues. Every three months we designate a “mental fitness” week and encourage all employees to take a day off and do something nice for themselves and their mental health.
We also see on a daily basis the complicated relationship that alcohol and mental health have with each other. Our whole premise at Sunnyside is that you can build healthier drinking habits without quitting, and it’s absolutely true. Our tens of thousands of members are making small changes to their behavior that lead to a huge positive impact on their lives.
But the truth is that alcohol can have a very negative effect on mental health, especially if left unchecked. We want to encourage everyone to enjoy alcohol responsibly, but also be fully educated so you can make the best decisions possible.
How does alcohol impact mental health?
Drinking alcohol will make you feel relaxed, decrease your inhibitions, and possibly help you have more fun in specific situations. Many also use alcohol to unwind after a stressful day or week, to enjoy a nice meal at the end of the day, and sometimes as a nightcap to help fall asleep.
The most common way alcohol impacts mental health that we likely all have experienced is the next day hangover. Even if you have a fun night, a hangover the next day can leave you exhausted, dehydrated, dizzy, and anxious. It can lead to self-loathing, laziness, and (potentially worse of all) a sense of impending doom that feels like it will never go away.
If you have this experience multiple times per month or week it can start to take a serious toll on your mental health.
In addition, alcohol can decrease your sleep quality, leading to a lack of rest and additional anxiety. In other words, it can snowball pretty quickly.
How does Sunnyside fit in?
We designed Sunnyside because we wanted to build healthier drinking habits ourselves, but didn’t want to quit drinking. We literally built it for ourselves.
Like nearly 75% of U.S. adults, we too enjoy drinking alcohol for the relaxing properties, the ritual, the way it complements meals, and the ways that it can elevate social situations. But we also wanted more balance in our drinking habits and options. Being a Sunnyside member means improving your drinking habits not just by cutting back, but by adding new drink options to your house, learning to identify and cut back on cravings, and discovering alternative ways to unwind instead of having a drink. It means creating a lifestyle that is complemented by the occasional drink, not led by it.
Just as you track your calories if you’re trying to improve your diet, or you create a plan to improve your physical health, we believe alcohol health can and should be proactive. It’s something to be proud of. Alcohol is inherently not great for your body and your mental health–especially if left unchecked– so it’s simply true that the better you plan your drinking, the more you can avoid the negative effects.
Tracking your drinks can improve your mental health
When you start using Sunnyside, the key habit that you start from day one is tracking your drinks. Even before you think about your long-term goals and start to cut back on your drinking, we encourage you to simply track your drinks.
Through hundreds of thousands of conversations with our members, we’ve heard repeatedly that tracking drinks has a profound impact. The benefits range from person to person, but if you start tracking your drinks on your own, you’d be hard-pressed to NOT experience many of the following benefits:
- You’ll get a clear picture of how much you drink - It’s no secret that when we’re drinking and things are feeling good, it can be easy to let things slip a bit, like pouring a larger drink, having a higher alcohol beer, or having “just one more”. By tracking your drinks you’ll start to get a clear picture of how much you drink, which helps you make decisions about how you might want to change your habits and what your new goals should be. It helps you establish a baseline that you can work from.
- You’ll start to understand why you drink - You can track your drinks in real time, or just log them the next day. Either way, tracking your drinks helps you take a pause and think about why you had the drinks that you had, and ultimately if it’s really what you wanted. Sometimes we drink out of habit or ritual, and just being aware of that can help you cut back, if that’s your goal.
- You’ll start to plan ahead of time - Just by logging your drink totals when you do drink, you start to give yourself a frame of reference for how much you might want to drink in the future. Don’t be surprised if you start to plan your drink totals before you go out with friends. With more knowledge about how alcohol impacts you at different quantities, you’ll start to better plan and optimize your days for feeling your best the next morning.
- You’ll start to slow down when you drink - If you choose to track your drinks in real-time (which we definitely recommend), you’ll notice that just the act of doing so gives you a chance to pause and reflect on whether you really do want the next drink. You might just decide that rotating in some water or whipping up a non-alcoholic cocktail will suffice at the moment.
- You’ll feel empowered - The ultimate goal with tracking your drinks is to help you feel empowered to make change, and accountable to the healthiest and happiest version of yourself possible. Everyone’s goals around drinking are personal and different. Tracking your drinks will help you understand your own goals and have the starting point to making changes that benefit you.
Take our 30-day tracking challenge with our free drink tracking templates
For Mental Health Awareness month we’re sharing a simple calendar that anyone can use to start tracking their drinks and begin experiencing the benefits of using a service like Sunnyside to build healthier drinking habits that last a lifetime.
How the challenges works:
- Download the tracking calendar
- Print out and put somewhere visible in your house
- Write out your goals for the month in the designated space. This can be as simple as “track every drink this month” or something a bit harder like “try not to drink on weekdays at all this month.” It can be anything that feels right for you.
- Record your drink total every day of May
- Explore new ways to drink mindfully throughout the month using the hints that we listed throughout the calendar.
Ready to go beyond tracking? Sign up for your Sunnyside membership
Sunnyside is a simple but comprehensive alcohol health system that will empower you to improve your drinking habits with no pressure to quit. Using our unique SMS-based tracking and coaching system, you’ll receive personalized drink plans on a weekly basis, daily motivation and education, and proactive recommendations to reach your goals.
In their first 30 days, most Sunnyside members cut back their total weekly drinks by about 30%, save over $50, and cut more than 1,500 calories from your diet (based on the average success of our members). Are you ready to join the mindful drinking movement?
Co-Founder of Sunnyside