If you have decided that you want to drink less, you’ve already taken the most important step towards reducing your alcohol intake.
To help you reach your goal, it helps to arm yourself with strategies, recognise the triggers that can lead to you having a drink and take small steps, for example just having a few drink-free days every week.
Setting a plan
Moderation is difficult – there’s no denying it. But if you can set yourself a plan with simple rules then you’ve already made the decisions you need. All you need to do now is follow them.
There are three main stages to drinking less:
- Understand, not only why you drink and when, but also what you want to gain by cutting down
- Change – plan for difficult situations and set rules you know you can stick to
- Maintain – keep reminding yourself how much better you will feel by not drinking and the health benefits that go with it.
There’s lots of advice in books and online about how to cut back, and most come back to the same themes.
The benefits of not drinking
If you can focus on why you’re not drinking, then you’ve got more chance of succeeding. Why not write a list to remind yourself why you’re doing it? Is it for better skin, losing weight, to improve your relationships or feel more in control? And think of the money you’ll save – perhaps plan a treat with the money you’ll save.
Avoid bad influences
Take a look at your social media and unfollow groups that glamorise or joke about drinking too much. They won’t help you reach your goal!
Take a break
If setting yourself the target of a full month without drinking feels unachievable, why not just cut back on the number of days per week you have a drink?
Set your limits
Decide on your rules and write them down, for example only drinking three times a week, only at weekends or a set number of drinks in one session. They should be a challenge but possible.
If you make a joint plan with a friend or partner, you can support each other and encourage each other if one of you feels tempted to fall off the wagon.
How many of us actually use a measure when we are pouring a drink at home? It might shock you how much you’re actually pouring into that glass…
There are lots of non-alcoholic drinks these days, from alcoholic free beers and wines to interesting cordials and sparking fruit drinks. You could also create your own mocktails!
When you’re tempted to drink, do something else instead. Try eating an apple, going for a walk, taking a bath, 15 minutes of yoga, a bit of pampering like painting your nails or having a face pack – it all helps.
For some of us, drinking too much becomes a habit that we do without thinking. By changing to drinking mindfully, you replace that negative habit with more positive ones.
Think of it as evolving rather than just changing. We all evolve as we get older, so try to think of drinking less as a positive reinvention of yourself. But you need to be clear about your incentives or motivations. Here are a few good things that reducing your drinking and staying in control of it can mean:
- more energy
- better memory
- being a more reliable friend
- more disposable income
- better skin
- deeper sleep
- feeling better about yourself
- losing excess weight
- a stronger immune system
- lower risk of some cancers.
Learn more about mindful drinking on the Drinkwise Derby website.