The Following Day Is The Worst Thing About Drinking Alcohol
The hangover is only a small part of it
The other day I did something that I haven’t done since March, I went out for a few drinks with my friends.
This may not sound like much but considering the lockdown restrictions in place due to Coronavirus, it felt like a big deal. Living in the UK, going to the pub is as much a part of the national identity as the Queen and fish and chips.
When you meet up with your friends, the meeting place is often a pub. The longer version of pub, public house, reflects the place these institutions play in British society.
I’m not the biggest drinker, but I do enjoy the odd drink. During lockdown, I have barely drunk at all. It’s been nice. I’ve enjoyed waking up with clarity and no hangover.
The lack of alcohol made me more productive and happier. However, I have missed trips to the pub to meet my friends. For me, this is the primary purpose of the pub. It serves as a conduit, a place where we can meet up with one another, have a few drinks and enjoy each others company.
Taking that away, it’s been strange. Calling friends on Zoom isn’t the same. Nor is going around to a friends house to chill in their garden. Without a trip to the pub, socialising doesn’t feel the same.
Anyway, the other day I was reacquainted with an old friend of a different kind, alcohol. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with alcohol since I first started drinking in my teenage years.
I go through periods of hating the stuff, times when I enjoy a few drinks, and times when I was travelling when I drank far too much. As the years have worn on, I’ve realised that I like to have one or two drinks, but anything more is too much.
The reason for this is simple. The older I’ve got, hangovers have become harder and harder to manage. Gone are the days in university when I could brush off a drinking session the next day. These days, the hangover hits, and it hits hard.
As a writer, this is a big problem because if I have a hangover it affects my ability to work. The motivation to work is sapped away. All I want to do is stay in my bed and curse myself for drinking too much.
While I only had three pints the other day, the lack of drinking during the past five months had lowered my tolerance to such a state that I woke up feeling far from my best self.
When this happens, I find it difficult to summon any motivation to do anything. Sure, it’s fun to see my friends and have a few drinks but the next day ends up as a write-off.
Whereas I’d normally be full of ideas, I struggle to focus on anything as my mind whirs amid the brain fog. The hangovers can be bad, but for me, the worst part of drinking is that if you have too much, the next day can be wasted.
A day of my life is lost to feeling shit and not wanting to do anything. Considering that each day is one less that I have on this planet, this is a huge waste of time.
I’ve never understood drinking culture. During my younger years, I tolerated and even came to enjoy it at one point. Now, as I’m in my thirties, I don’t see much point in it.
Alcohol is a social juice. I question how many people look forward to drinking. Do they genuinely enjoy having a few pints, or do they do so out of social convention?
I’ve wrestled with this question for a while. I guess it depends on who you are and where you’re from. In the UK, there’s no doubt that a lot of people genuinely enjoy drinking, and in some cases, drinking to excess.
Whether they question their choices the next day and ask themselves if the hangover was worth it, I don’t know.
Alcohol is not going anywhere. If you feel like me, then you have to reassess your relationship with the drink. Do you drink out of enjoyment? Is it to ease any stress you may have? Or do you enjoy nothing more than a drinking session?
While it may be fun at the time, are the repercussions the next day worth it? The headache, the lethargy, the lack of motivation to anything other than curl up in a ball?
For a long time I tolerated this, my most recent outing has pushed me to recognise that I value the ability to think clearly and feel my best more than drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
Hangovers may be bad, but the lack of motivation to do anything at all is worse. Think about it for a second. Would you rather have energy and the drive to go about life, or drink so much that this is taken away from you the following day?
I don’t know about you, but when put like that, it’s a no-brainer.