We don’t need to tell you about the advantages of taking a break from alcohol. From boosting productivity, reducing anxiety to improving sports performance – the list goes on.
But giving up is tough with psychological conditioning and social pressure from peers largely to blame.
We speak to Andy Ramage, founder of OneYearNoBeer about his 7 tips for quitting alcohol…
Book a physical challenge
This might seem like a strange place to start but it’s key to any alcohol-free period. Book a physical challenge beyond your current abilities.
If you can just manage a jog around the block, perhaps start with a 5k, or if 10k’s your limit then maybe go for a marathon. A physical target such as this will provide:
Focus – To drive your exercise routines
Exercise – To make you body and mind strong
Confidence – That you are capable of more than you ever imagined
Activity – That will fill some of the time you get back from not drinking
If you slip up, so what
The quickest way to lasting habit change is through compassion and not the stick of guilt. Studies have shown time and time again that forgiveness leads to personal accountability, whereas guilt leaves us looking for excuses.
There is a common misconception that a slip up means failure, which opens the floodgates to over indulgence. This creates a downward spiral of overeating/drinking and feeling bad about oneself.
If you slip up – so what, who cares, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and come back stronger. Let us remind ourselves that no one is perfect and Superman without kryptonite would be boring!
Bad habits need replacing not telling off
After years of psychological conditioning, suddenly trying to change an alcohol habit is tricky. The best way to break bad habits is to dress them up as new ones.
Here are 3 quick steps to help you break your bad habits:
Find your trigger – What time, place, emotion, preceding action or person is your trigger?
Uncover what’s driving the habit, what is it you crave? Stress relief, companionship?
Change your routine and hack the habit. Once you know what triggers the habit, along with the real driver, all you have to do is replace the routine with a healthy one that provides the same motivation.
If it is companionship that drives you towards those after work drinks, then perhaps book a spin class with some mates instead.
You get the picture, take the time to expose and then replace your unhealthy routines.
Use your excuse – I am on a challenge
Most of us need a decent reason ‘not’ to drink – it is sad but true. Alcohol is the only drug in the world that when you give it up people berate you!
Unless you’re pregnant or sick most excuses are destroyed by well-meaning friends, family and colleagues who want their drinking buddies back.
So use your excuse. Everyone loves a challenge and going alcohol-free is just another one to add to your list alongside mud races, triathlons, marathons …
When the time comes say it loud and proud – Want a drink?
Say, yes I would love a… (fill in blank with alcohol-free alternative)
Yes, I have decided to take a (30/90/365) day alcohol-free challenge and I feel marvelous!
Note down all your reasons why you want to quit
List all those reasons why you want to quit alcohol. Get creative and let it all flow.
Use paper, iPad or laptop whatever suits you best. For extra motivation put your list where you can see it as a daily reminder of why you are on this adventure.
Keep planning then plan some more
It sounds over the top, but we know, when it comes to going alcohol-free winging it simply does not work. You have to plan like an athlete and expect the unexpected.
There will always be a long lost friend who arrives on your doorstep looking to catch up over a few drinks. Be ready for these moments when they arrive, and they will, give yourself a rye smile, then make the choice that fits with your goals.
Also know what you are going to drink. Phone your chosen venue, if you must, and find out if they stock your alcohol-free alternative. Always have a backup soft drink just in case you reach the bar and they are out of stock.
Drink awareness – Mindfulness is a fantastic habit breaking tool
From awareness comes the ability to change and being mindful of your habits is the start of this process. The reason our brains love habits is that these processes run without conscious thought saving precious energy.
This is great for healthy habits but a problem for those bad ones.
Mindfulness helps shine a bright light on those habits that are holding us back. Suddenly we notice what’s really going on. How much and why we are drinking. As these subconscious routines come back into full view we can apply the steps above to drive home this wonderful change.
I truly hope this helps you quit or take a break from alcohol. Take it from me it will be one of the most rewarding times of your life.
Image credit – iStock