4 Steps to Reduce Your Drinking
If the thought “Maybe I should go easy on the alcohol” has ever crossed your mind, you are NOT alone. Many American adults, at some point, have considered reducing the amount of alcohol they drink. Yet, cutting down is not always an easy task. In this article, I break down cutting down drinking into four steps. With these steps, I hope you will gain some clarity about how to move toward the healthy life that you wish to live.
Step One: Gain Awareness With a Drinking Log
The first step in changing any behavior is to gain awareness of the behavior, and a drinking log is one of the most effective tools to help you become more aware of your alcohol consumption. You may feel the temptation to think, “I know how much I drink,” or feel that you can simply keep a log in your head. But trust me, having a physical log, either in a notebook or on your smartphone, is where the magic happens. For a start, some habitual drinkers find that taking a brief moment to pause and write or log their drink can sometimes prevent them from picking up another drink by default. Moreover, a physical log will allow you to see all the data of your alcohol intake over a period of time, which provides valuable information and helps many people gain insight into their drinking patterns. To learn more about the power of keeping a drinking log, check out my other blog: Drinking Log: A Powerful Tool to Cut Down Your Drinking.
A drinking log can sometimes bring up complicated feelings. Taking an honest look at one’s alcohol consumption can bring up feelings of anxiety, shame, or guilt. Don’t let these feelings keep you from starting or keeping up with the log. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer to how much you are currently drinking. Your intention to cut down is what matters. You are here to make a difference in your life, which takes tremendous courage, and that alone says more about you than the amount you are drinking.
Step Two: Set a Goal and Get Clear on Your Whys
After keeping a drinking log for a while, you will get an accurate picture of your drinking patterns. You will know exactly how much and how often you consume alcohol. You may even notice a few patterns. For example, one person may notice they tend to have a hangover the next day whenever they have more than three drinks. Another person may realize they spend hundreds of dollars on their weekend binges. With this information, it’s time to explore what changes you want to make with alcohol and its place in your life. Perhaps you’d like to reduce the number of hangovers. Therefore, you would like to limit each night to less than three drinks. Or you may want to keep a cap on your weekend binges to save some money. There is no one-size-fits-all in cutting down, and it’s up to you to decide what kind of limit you would like to set with alcohol.
While deciding on your limit is important in cutting down, getting clear on your whys is crucial. Setting limits are rarely fun, especially when you are trying to put a limit on something that you enjoy. What are the reasons that justify placing a limit on alcohol? Do you long to wake up each morning without headaches? Does the extra money you can save excite you? Are you looking forward to getting into shape once you stop taking in empty calories? Take out a piece of paper and write down all the reasons that make you consider putting a limit on alcohol. Be sure actually to write it down. Like the drinking log, seeing the whole list before your eyes is where the magic happens.
Step Three: Come Up With a Game Plan
With a clear goal and a solid list of whys, it’s time to develop some strategies to stick within the limits. If you have ever gone on a road trip, you will know that planning is the key to a successful road trip. A skilled traveler prepares for unexpected weather, knows where the stops are, and packs extra water and snacks. Cutting down on alcohol is like going on a road trip, and you are much more likely to have a good time when you have a game plan. Here are some things to plan for on your “cutting down” road trip.
What can you do to increase your chance of sticking within your drink limit?
What can you do when you feel the temptation of breaking your drink limit?
How are you going to enjoy yourself when limiting the consumption of alcohol?
Creating a set of strategies that work the best for you takes time and practice. I have a cheat sheet with some tips others find helpful in their cutting-down journey, and I would love to share them with you in one of my future blogs. (Sign-up for the Sober Curiosity Newsletter so you never miss any Sober Curiosity tips).
Step Four: Be Persistent and Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out
Being persistent is the key to success in any endeavor of life. Many people mistakenly think that they should be able to curb their drinking immediately once they decide to make a change. This view can not be further away from reality. Making changes is a process, especially when we try to change a behavior that offers immediate satisfaction and relief, such as drinking alcohol. Don’t be discouraged if you encounter setbacks in your cutting-down journey or fail to stick to your limit. Be persistent and keep going. Remember that professional support is available; you don’t have to do this alone. Set up a FREE consultation today to find out how I can support you.