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January 16, 2018

Stay in or go out? How the choice affects your health

Wellness Lifestyle

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Limited - Young men and women enjoying a party jacoblund/

It’s Friday night and the energy’s high — your friends are tempting you with plans to hit the bars and have a good time. After a long work week, you’re faced with the decision to either go out and let loose or stay in and enjoy a restful night. Both options have their merits, with one presenting social rewards and the other offering certain health benefits. Here’s why you should consider one over the other.

To be social or not to be social

Going out:

If you find yourself craving social interaction and connection, you’re not alone — humans are wired to feel this way. It’s worth noting that spending time with friends in a social setting has incredible effects on your health. Social ties provide an emotional support that’s linked to improved physical habits and behaviors.

Although maintaining relationships can be taxing, a night out can help to stave off feelings of loneliness or isolation. Additionally, going out can help you meet new people or explore things outside of your comfort zone, which inevitably helps you gain confidence.

Staying in:

Still, there’s something to be said about curling up on the couch for some much-needed alone time. Despite what society has to say about “being alone,” solitude offers many benefits. Spending quality time with yourself allows you to mentally recharge, giving way to more creativity, thoughtfulness, and concentration in your endeavors or tasks.

Oddly enough, staying in for the night can also help to improve current relationships, as you have the chance to disconnect, reboot, and appreciate those involved in your social circle. Not to mention, making time for yourself to relax or partake in a favorite hobby is a great way to engage in some self-care, which has major effects on both your physical and mental health.

The effects of alcohol

Going out:

While drinking in moderation may actually prove to have positive physical and psychological health benefits, it can be easy to go overboard when socializing with friends. Binge drinking not only puts a strain on your wallet, it also takes a toll on your health by affecting your sleep and causing a hangover.

Alcohol disrupts restorative sleep, the type of rest that leaves you refreshed the next day, by inducing alpha activity in the brain. Similarly, alcohol also interrupts your circadian rhythm, causing you to wake during the night, and rise earlier in the morning before you’re fully rested. Both occurrences lead you to feel groggy and sluggish the following day.

Even after one night of overindulgence, heavy drinking can throw the neurotransmitters in your brain out of whack, causing behavioral and mood changes, as well as alcohol withdrawal the next day. Hangovers can run the gamut from mild nausea to severe headaches, and these disorienting effects often leave us unable to function normally and can interfere with our daily routines.

Staying in:

Conversely, while staying in causes you to miss out on time with friends, it’s a lot easier to keep track of how much and how fast you’re drinking…which makes it less likely you’ll have to worry about alcohol-related sickness the next day. Instead of spending money on pricey beverages at the bar and risking a rough recovery, you can catch up on sleep and give your body the restoration it might need. Though enjoying drinks with friends can certainly be fun, without it, you are guaranteed to be in better shape both physically and mentally the next day.

When you’re faced with the decision to go out or stay in, take the pros and cons into consideration. One offers social rewards while the other offers healthy benefits. Only you know what’s best for you!

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