Drinking Log – A Simple Tool to Curb Your Drinking
I work with many people who want to curb their alcohol consumption, and once in a while, someone will ask me whether I have a magic trick that can help them cut down their alcohol intake quickly. Well, I may not have a magic trick, but I do have a fantastic tool–a drinking log.
A drinking log? I know, it sounds way too simple and quite time-consuming. If you are feeling skeptical, I assure you, you are not alone. Most people do at first, but hear me out. There are four reasons why I would recommend a drinking log to anyone who wants to cut down on alcohol.
A Drinking Log Cultivates Awareness.
Have you ever opened a can of beer after work out of habit or poured yourself a second glass of wine on autopilot? Habitual drinkers find themselves picking up a drink by default without full awareness. When people lack awareness of their actions, they have little control over their behaviors.
A drinking log is a simple tool to help you cultivate greater awareness of alcohol use. Awareness of a behavior is the first step in modifying it. With awareness, whether or not to take another drink could become a choice (Don’t get me wrong, it may still be a difficult choice).
A Drinking Log Can Sometimes Directly Reduce Your Alcohol Intakes
For some people, simply the act of logging every drink they have helps them drink less. Writing down a drink is a conscious act that breaks you out of the autopilot of pouring one drink after another. By actively writing each drink down, you are slowed down between each glass and become aware of how many drinks you are having. During that split-second pause, you may think, “Is it a good idea to have a 3rd drink?” or “If I have another one, I will have to log it.” Surprisingly, the thoughts and brief pauses may be enough to stop you from picking up the next drink.
A Drinking Log Provides Information.
A drinking log’s most potent benefit is its invaluable information over time. Having all the information about your alcohol consumption in front of your eyes will allow you to develop insight into your relationship with alcohol that you would never otherwise realize. For example, you may notice that you almost always start to drink around a similar time every day. Perhaps you realize that you tend to over-drink in specific situations or when around particular people. You may find out that you only become argumentative when you have more than three drinks. Such insights will guide you in developing the best strategies to change your relationship with alcohol in the future.
A Drinking Log Helps You Monitor Progress.
Last but not least, the drinking log will help you monitor your progress as you reduce your alcohol intake. Change often happens gradually; sometimes, without subjective evidence, it isn’t easy to see how far you have come. For example, you may still be drinking whenever you go out, but having 1-2 drinks is very different from 3-4 drinks. When you keep a log, you can see how your alcohol consumption changes over time. One of my favorite ways to track the progress is to create a graph over time. An easily visualized progress can be gratifying and motivating. Cutting down on alcohol is hard work. It requires you to let go of instant gratification for long-term benefit. Keeping track of your progress is one easy way to help you focus on the positive and pay attention to your progress.
Having Mixed Feelings?
A drinking log is a simple and powerful tool; however, it’s easier said than done. Not only does keeping a drinking log take time and commitments, but it also can bring up complicated feelings about change. If you feel apprehensive, anxious, or at a loss about starting a drinking log or controlling your alcohol use, you are NOT alone. And you don’t have to do this alone. Bring your mixed feelings to my Sober Curiosity Conversation, where you will be heard, understood, and supported.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to decide whether or how much to cut down on your drinking just because you start to keep track of your alcohol intake. Although some people find themselves drinking less simply by keeping a log, drinking less is not the goal of your drinking log. The only purpose of keeping track of your alcohol consumption is to increase your awareness.