Do you also struggle with a mood challenge?

January 8, 2022 / Topical / Background

You know that a break in your alcohol consumption will eventually make you feel SU-PER fit, energetic, proud and happy. Here you only have to look up any article about quitting alcohol. Yet you will not notice it after a week of fitting. In fact, your mood seems to have hit rock bottom. How is that possible? And, more importantly, when will that euphoric feeling finally come?

Is this intro about you? Let us reassure you right away: you are not alone. Because among the thousands of IkPassers who are participating with you this month, there are more participants who, just like you, yearn for that happy feeling after temporarily swearing off alcohol. How is it possible that one person feels mentally better than ever after a few days of alcohol break, while the other becomes very grumpy? Don't worry, it's all a matter of reprogramming your neurotransmitter systems.

The physical cover

To understand why you may feel a little gloomier now, let's first briefly explain the effect of alcohol on the reward system in the brain.

When you drink alcohol, your brain produces more dopamine. This important neurotransmitter makes you feel good. Alcohol also stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects your mood, sleep and memory. The release of these two neurotransmitters is precisely why drinking alcohol gives you a instant gives a nice feeling. This feeling is reinforced every time you drink alcohol. In short, alcohol has a significant impact on the reward system.

Once you stop drinking alcohol, your reward system needs to get used to it. Your body may have become so used to the dopamine release from alcohol that it produces less dopamine without alcohol. This can temporarily make you feel a bit moodier. If you are normally a moderate drinker, you will probably suffer from this for a shorter period of time than if you were a heavier drinker before you took part in IkPas. The good news is that the dopamine and serotonin production in your brain will eventually be completely restored. And once that happens, you're going to feel better. Source: trimbos.nl

The mental turnaround

In addition to the physical shift, there is also the mental shift: breaking your habit. Now that you can't, the craving for your favorite alcoholic drink can be huge. And that affects your mood. This is one of the reasons why an IkPas challenge lasts at least 4 weeks. Your head needs this period to break the habitual behavior. Has the pattern been broken once? Then there will be more room for your cheerful self!

Another reason why you can feel less comfortable in your own skin is because of the dampening effect of alcohol. Now that you don't drink alcohol, emotions that you normally suppress may surface more clearly. See your alcohol break as an opportunity to deal with these emotions. Source: flaironline.nl

Tips for moody moments

Now that you know that your brain just needs some time to reset, it's especially important to bridge the gap until you, too, are part of the happy-pause camp. Would you rather not turn your challenge into a relationship challenge? Try to apply the tips below in the next shower.

  • Do you feel tense or gloomy and do you get a huge appetite for your solid alcoholic drink? Distract yourself with an activity. So go around the block, call that friend who always makes you laugh or have fun in the garden.
  • Treat yourself to something nice. An extra long bathing session. That new book by that one author. A cup of chocolate milk with extra whipped cream. This is the time to be kind to yourself.
  • Accept that you are feeling less great now. As with all emotions, a gloomy, listless or itchy feeling eventually disappears. So it's a matter of sitting quietly and holding on to the certainty that you will really feel better later on.
  • Do you notice that many emotions are floating up that bother you? Then look for extra help and talk to your IkPas coach or contact your GP.

 

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