Just like we feel so sure we'll never drink again when we're hungover, after a booze-filled December, cutting back on alcohol seems like an easy resolution to stick to. You know the drill, you start off strict but before you know it, temptation strikes and you find yourself right back where you started.
Changing any habit takes commitment and dedication, but when an addictive substance like alcohol is involved it becomes far harder. With the new decade, why not consider breaking the cycle an try cutting back or a detox?
First things first – we’re all different
It’s important to remember what works for one person may not work for another. It might take some trial and error before you find your triggers and ways to avoid these. Below are a few tips from us that we’ve found to be effective in the past.
Slow and steady
If you’re just want to cut back on your alcohol consumption try sitting longer on your drinks. Often over-drinking lies in the speed in which you’re drinking. Try sipping drinks super slowly or committing to only one drink per hour. Another trick for cutting down alcohol consumption is to have a spacer in between drinks AKA a non-alcoholic beverage.
Whether you are trying to cut down or quit drinking altogether, it is a good idea to avoid situations which you associate with drinking. There’s no shame in admitting that social situations like a BBQ with friends or after work drinks are too testing. Avoiding them all together until you feel strong enough to ease them back in totally fine. A cautionary warning: you will feel social pressure at some point. The drinking culture in Australia and New Zealand can be pretty toxic and sometimes it feels like “no” just isn’t an option. But, don’t be afraid to say NO – just say it quickly and firmly so that you don't give yourself time to change your mind.
It can be overwhelming going into a social situation you usually drink in and people expect you to have a drink in hand. Instead, make your first drink a non-alcoholic beverage and sit on this for the first 30 minutes, allowing you to assess the situation, triggers and think about how you want the night to be/end up.
Ramp up the exercise
In our opinion, there’s nothing better for your mental health and stamina than exercise. Aside from the fact you won’t want to undo all your hard, you’ll be bursting with endorphins, which is key when you’re going through a testing time.
There’s power in numbers
Chances are post-Christmas and New Year festivities you’re not alone in wanting to detox. Ask around your workplace, family and friends and gauge their interest in joining you. Rallying together a supportive network is amazing for times when your willpower is low or you still want to socialise but not drink because they’re on the same buzz!
A hard break
While it’s certainly challenging, for some drinks a complete break from alcohol may be the only way to cut back. A substantial break from alcohol will help to reset your relationship with it. So, what’s an ideal detox period? A month is good and certainly worth commending but people tend to wind up the month and then plan a big night out when they finish. So if you can stretch that out longer, ideally nearer three months then that means you’ve got through 12 weekends without drinking.
Whether you're a daily heavy drinker or a binge drinker, time off alcohol is definitely your best bet at success. After 12 weeks without alcohol, the true brain chemistry changes will happen. Chemical changes happen in the brain when you’re drinking regularly; your brain only gets its dopamine rush from drink, so your brain is craving the drink. And those brain chemistry changes take around three months to actually change.