Drinking is a socially accepted coping mechanism. It’s an acceptable way to deal with a breakup, stress at work, or social anxiety. But maybe you’re starting to find that drinking alcohol is affecting your family or work relationships. Or maybe you’ve reached a point where you realize you don’t actually enjoy drinking.
As National Recovery Month draws to an end, here are some ways (9), in which you can Are you can kick the habit
- Identify your goal. Are you striving for complete sobriety or moderation management? Why do you want to stop drinking? Identify your goal and write it down.
- Review your drinking habits. Take a few minutes to think about why you drink in the first place and how often you do it. When you are more aware of when you feel compelled to drink, you can make a plan to prevent yourself from drinking when the triggers come up.
- Why do you drink? What triggers the drinking habit? Maybe you find yourself drinking when out at dinner with friends or as a coping mechanism when you feel stressed.
- How often do you drink? How much do you drink when you do?
- Create a plan. Once you’re aware of your drinking habits, you can start creating a plan to stop drinking – especially during the moments you find yourself drinking the most.
- What will you do instead of drinking when you start craving alcohol? Maybe instead of drinking to relieve stress after work, you can exercise for 30 minutes.
- Who will you call if you need in-person support? Let that person know what your plan is and what kind of support you might need.
- Are there any activities you can do instead of drinking on the weekend? Maybe you can replace Friday nights at the bar with Friday nights playing board games.
- Practice how you will respond when offered a drink. Now that you know what situations in which you are likely to drink, practice how you will respond to others in social drinking situations.
- Find a new drink to enjoy.
- Decide how you will answer when someone asks you why you don’t drink.
- Practice your firm yet polite “no, thank you” if someone suggests you drink just one.
- Find support. Talk to family and friends about your intentions, as well as what you want to accomplish. Find a community (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) that can support and relate to you while you change your drinking habits.
- Reward yourself. Studies show that rewards help train your brain. How can you reward yourself when you choose not to drink? Maybe you can buy yourself chocolate with the money saved from not buying alcohol.
- What’s in it for you? Write it down. Research also shows that when you keep reminding yourself of the benefits that you’ll receive from achieving your goals, the actions you regularly take to achieve them lead to permanent change. Remind yourself about the benefits and enjoy them as you experience them.
- Some benefits include reducing your risk of alcohol-related illness, saving money, more energy in your everyday life, and closer relationships.
- Develop a self-care routine. Get to the point where you’re too busy being productive and healthy that you believe a drink of alcohol would ruin it for you. Start exercising more, reading, and eating healthy! Learn or revisit a hobby. Start finding fun ways to take care of yourself.
- Don’t give up. You’re bound to have periods where avoiding alcohol is harder than usual or you fall back on your old habits. When this happens, look back at the benefits you’ve written down and reach out to a trusted friend for support. Take a deep breath, remember you are human, and try again.
Remember that big change takes time. Whether you want to quit drinking completely or reduce your drinking, you’re making a big change in your life! The steps you take can dramatically impact your health, relationships, and quality of life for the better.
You’ve got this!
To Your Success,
Many people are able to drink without serious consequences, but there is a significant part of the population that struggles with sobriety. Many people rely on alcohol as a coping strategy. Others develop an actual physical addiction to alcohol. Common signs of alcoholism include:
- An inability to drink in moderation
- Overspending on alcohol
- Craving alcohol
- Neglecting personal and work responsibilities due to alcohol consumption
Work, personal relationships, physical health and psychological health can all be negatively affected by drinking alcohol in excess. Increase the odds of staying sober with these useful tips:
- Remove all alcohol from your home. Anyone that’s ever been on a diet knows that any food in the house that tastes good will eventually be eaten. The same goes for alcohol. If you enjoy drinking, you’ll eventually break down and drink it if it’s in the house.
- Avoid situations that make it easy to drink. Opportunity can equal disaster. Be careful about meeting coworkers at a bar after work. Parties can be another danger zone. Consider taking a date to a location that doesn’t serve alcohol. Be wary of where you spend your time if you want to stay sober.
- Re-evaluate your social circle. Spending time with your long-time drinking buddies can be a huge mistake. Do you have friends that always drink on the weekends? Does someone in your family drink frequently?
- While many people will be supportive of your decision not to drink, there may be some that won’t. You might have to shuffle the people in your life if staying sober is a priority.
- Find a group of people that share your challenge. There are many groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, that provide support to those who have chosen to stay sober. These groups can be a great place to build friendships with those going through the same struggle.
- Exercise. A good workout can clear your head, burn off stress, and reset your brain and your perspective. Exercise benefits you in many ways.
- Get help with any mental health issues. Mental health issues can make sobriety much more challenging. Get the help you need to deal with any mental health issues you might be facing.
- Find a hobby that you love and do it! Spend time on an enjoyable activity as often as possible. A positive mood makes it easier to avoid drinking. What do you like to do? What would you like to try?
- Deal with urges effectively. It’s important to have a plan when the urge to drink arises. There’s no way to avoid the urge to drink completely. What are you going to do when it happens?
- Call a friend?
- Call a sponsor?
- Go for a run?
- Reduce the stress in your life. Stress is uncomfortable. When we’re uncomfortable, we tend to do whatever needs to be done to make ourselves comfortable again. Stress can’t be avoided completely but reducing the amount of stress you experience can help reduce the urge to drink.
- Address any physical pain. Pain, like stress, is another form of discomfort. And let’s face it, alcohol is pretty effective at reducing pain. See your doctor and deal with any injuries or long-term pain your body might be suffering.
These tips can help with maintaining sobriety, but the initial steps of becoming sober might require the assistance of health professionals. If alcohol is a serious issue for you, it is likely to be an ongoing struggle for the rest of your life. It’s a battle best fought one day at a time. Alcoholism is a serious disease that requires immediate attention. Get the necessary help you require. You’ll be glad you did.
To Your Success,
Happy hours can be a great way to unwind after a stressful day at work. You bond with your coworkers, talk about your day, and listen to some upbeat music. On the other hand, if you make such activities a regular routine, you could be taking in more alcohol and empty calories than you want.
Plus, you may be training yourself to think that consumption is the only way to relax. You can’t remove all the stress from daily life, but you can learn to deal with it without creating more troubles. Start with these ideas for relaxing without alcohol or food.
Calorie-Free Ways to Relax on Your Own:
- Breathe deeply. Pause and take a few calming breaths. Inhale from down in your diaphragm instead of up in your chest. Lengthen your exhalations to match your inhalations. Focus on the air as it moves in and out of your nostrils.
- Meditate and pray. Sit down for a few moments and connect with yourself and the divine. Observe your thoughts without judging them. Give thanks for your blessings.
- Engage in visualization. Close your eyes and imagine something that makes you feel happy and inspired. Picture yourself surrounded by family and friends or excelling at a task that you find fulfilling.
- Draw a bath. Fill your tub with warm water and enjoy a luxurious soak. Buy fragrant bath salts or make your own. Set out fluffy towels, candles, and other accessories of your choice.
- Stretch your body. Make it a habit to stand up about every half hour when you’re working at your desk. Place your hands on your lower spine for support, and do a slight backbend. Rise up tall, and reach your hands down to the floor, bending your knees if necessary.
- Take a walk. Stroll around the block or hike the trails at your local park. Pick a quiet time of day and explore new routes.
- Appreciate nature. Scientific studies prove that nature has the power to soothe us. Head outdoors or watch videos about sandy beaches and ancient forests.
- Learn progressive relaxation. Experiment with progressive muscle relaxation. Start with your hands, squeezing each muscle group as you breathe in, and releasing as you breathe out. Continue across the rest of your body.
Calorie-Free Ways to Relax with Others:
- Practice yoga. Yoga cultivates community as well as stress relief and physical fitness. Bring a friend with you to your next class. Invite others to join you for breakfast afterwards.
- Play sports. As long as you avoid extreme competition, sports can be relaxing. Schedule a game of tennis or darts.
- Go dancing. Take listening to music a step further by getting out on the dance floor. Sign up for rumba lessons or spend your next date night at a club with a live band.
- Pet your dog. Remember your animal companions too. Studies show that talking to them actually tends to be less stressful than interacting with humans because we don’t worry about being judged.
- Talk it over. On the other hand, your fellow humans are probably going to have more insights into how to deal with your love life or conflicts at work. Call a friend when you need to vent or discover a different perspective on whatever is on your mind.
- Laugh it up. Humor makes our struggles easier to bear. Spend time with others who encourage you to see the funny aspects of parenthood or practicing law.
Whether you’re on your own or surrounded by friends, you can banish stress safely and effectively. Learning to relax without alcohol or food will help you to stay slim and peaceful.
Did you find these suggestions helpful? If you would like to add to the conversation or have a suggestion, please comment below.
To Your Success,
If you feel self-conscious about not drinking alcohol at personal and professional gatherings, it’s time to relax. There are many reasons why adults choose to forego the alcohol, including health issues, religious beliefs, and various individual preferences.
In fact, about one-third of adult Americans don’t drink any alcohol, and another third consume less than one alcoholic beverage per week, according to government figures. See how easy it is to have plenty of fun and friends without drinking.
What to Do About Drinking
If you’re struggling with alcohol dependence, seeking support will help you deal with serious issues that may come up during your recovery. Otherwise, a few practical strategies may be all you need to enjoy a party without cocktails.
- Fill your glass. Avoid awkward questions by keeping a drink in your hand or by your plate. Others will assume that you’ve been served.
- Bring your own. Most hosts are likely to offer nondrinkers more options than plain old tap water. Still, you can guarantee that your favorites will be on hand by presenting them with a bottle of limeade or a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer.
- Offer to drive. Save lives by volunteering to be the designated driver for the evening. Many bars will thank you by letting you drink for free.
- Eat something. Cocktails are easier to resist on a full stomach. Have a hearty meal or snack before you go out. Check out the buffet table or snack plates if you get hungry again.
- Look ahead. Boost your motivation by anticipating how fresh and alert you’ll feel in the morning. You may also have more money in your pocket when you give up drinking alcohol.
What to Do About Socializing
Maybe you drink because you feel it’s expected or because it’s easier for you to mingle. Below are some alternative ways to connect with family, friends, and business contacts.
- Talk it over. If your decision to quit drinking will be a major change, let your loved ones know how you feel. Discuss your hopes and concerns. Explain what kind of support you need.
- Rehearse your response. It’s up to you how much you want to tell strangers and acquaintances about your decision not to drink. If so, simple versions usually work best. Tell them you feel better without alcohol or you have to be up early in the morning.
- Prepare for small talk. Practice networking and hanging out without alcohol. Put together a few topics for conversation. Plus, if you show others that you’re interested in them, they’ll probably like anything you have to say.
- Arrive late. Time your arrival for when the party is reaching full swing. It will make it easier to feel festive and blend in.
- Help out. Looking for ways to assist others will take your focus off yourself. Ask your host if you can collect coats or peel lemons. Talk to a guest who’s asking for referrals for a local babysitter or car mechanic.
- Suggest other activities. Lots of places serve up entertainment without any alcohol. Go see a play or visit a science museum. Take a walk through a public garden or go hiking at your nearest mountain range.
- Make new friends. People who care about you will be happy to make any adjustments they can to support your decision. On the other hand, you might benefit from widening your circle to include more nondrinkers who want to go out for coffee or ice cream.
Advance planning and clear communications make it simple to socialize without alcohol. You can enjoy interesting conversations and entertaining activities just as much whether you fill your glass with champagne or cranberry juice. As a reminder, September is National Recovery Month, you will find helpful resources and links on SAMHSA.
To Your Success,