Giving Up Alcohol Is Not A Punishment
I see so many people going on like not having their daily glass of wine is the greatest punishment possible. Punishment for what? Years of punishing your liver and not taking better care of yourself? If you feel like giving up alcohol is a form of punishment or extreme hardship, then it’s time to address your relationship with alcohol.
Giving Up Alcohol Is Easy
Giving up any of our vices isn’t easy. But how you frame it in your own mind and how you go about it can make things a lot easier. For example, and I mean this from a point of view that you don’t have an unaddressed alcohol issue. If you are viewing it as a punishment or something that is going to cause you extreme stress, then it’s going to be the hardest month of your life. But, if you view it as giving your body a break, a detox, an opportunity to clear your mind, get a bit healthier or a bit fitter, and you attach that to a good experience or positive feeling, then it’s going to be a whole lot easier.
Change Your Alcohol Routine
If having a pint after work, a glass of wine in the evening has become a daily habit for you, then changing your routine or creating new, better habits are going to make your day-to-day life easier. And it will benefit your overall health and wellbeing too.
Do you call in at your local pub on the way home after work for a pint? Find something to replace this with. Use that time to get home a bit earlier and take up a new hobby. Or get fancy with your cooking. Take the dog or kids for a pre-dinner walk. Help the kids with their homework. There is potentially a 30-minute gap there for you to fill with something new. Make that time really positive and enjoyable.
Try replacing your evening wine with something else. Start with a non-alcoholic variety and then once you aren’t craving the alcohol, replace the (false) relaxation that wine gave you with something else that can help you wind down really for bed. A good book. Yoga or meditation. Neither of those has ever appealed to me but they are popular with lots of people so I added them in.
Pamper yourself, taking up a new skincare regime, a bath, hair care, body lotion etc. Giving up alcohol will do wonders for your skin. And investing your wine money in some good quality skincare products will help you to notice the improvements. Get yourself some vitamin c based products to help brighten your skin and good quality oils and moisturisers. Alcohol dehydrates your body and that includes your skin. Your face can look dull and be left with no natural brightness. A good skincare routine will quickly start to repair the alcohol damage. It will also slow down the ageing process on your skin. Alcohol gives you wrinkles.
Develop A Non-Alcohol Social Life
There is no law to say you can’t still go out, socialise, go to the pub, out for dinner, to parties etc, and not drink. It’s something I’ve been doing for years. And it means I get to drive so I can decide when I want to go home. However, if you find the temptation to drink too much when in certain social circles, then perhaps try doing different things that don’t revolve around cocktails, shots and last orders. I love going for a nice dinner now and being able to taste and enjoy the food. Good food tastes so much better without the wine. There are always things like bowling, the cinema, crazy golf, or even just staying in, getting a big fat takeaway and re-watching Tiger King because you’ve forgotten how good it was the first time around.
I do tend to find that people think twice about inviting me along to pub nights or things that revolve around drinking. The not drinking really doesn’t bother me, but other people seem more bothered about it. I’ve written about my sober status before.
Tell People To Back Off With Their Alcohol
Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to deal with someone asking/telling me to just have one. Just one little glass of champagne to celebrate something trivial. One little shot to get me in the mood. A bloke once said he didn’t see the point in dating me because I didn’t drink (massive eye roll). Other people need to understand that whether you are just doing Dry January or planning to give up alcohol for the long term, that it is your personal choice and they need to respect that. You aren’t asking anyone to not drink in your presence or not come with you to non-drinking events. But the constant nagging to just have one little drink is just embarrassing, for them!
Set A Target To Giving Up Alcohol
Doing something difficult is always just that bit easier when there’s something nice at the end. If you just want to do Dry January then set yourself a target to save some money to buy yourself something nice at the end of it. Or use the funds to put a deposit on a nice holiday. And then carry on not drinking to pay the balance. Or set a weight loss target. Alcohol is riddled with calories and way too much sugar that you aren’t going to burn off before you fall into your bed. If you’ve been using your after-work pint time to go for a walk instead, set yourself a target for a longer walk by the end of January or run a 5km.
The trick is to make your goal something that really appeals to you or that you will be proud of. It’s all in the framing.
What Not To Do Whilst Giving Up Alcohol
Firstly, shut up whinging about it. Posting on Facebook every damn day about how many days you’ve done and how hard it is. Nobody cares and it just screams you have a massive big drinking problem. Stop “testing” yourself but purposely putting yourself in the way of temptation. Unless you have the determination and willpower of a toddler that doesn’t want to go to bed, then you are setting yourself up to fail, miserably.
Keep an eye that you aren’t replacing one bad habit with another. Now probably isn’t the time to take up smoking (again) or indulge in some class A’s. Sweet things have always been my little vice, so I need to be careful that I don’t use them as a substitute. The same goes for a KFC (anyone that’s read me long enough knows I’m a sucker for some fried chicken).
If it’s a habit you need to replace then replace it with a good one. Fruit, kale, smoothies, or something probiotic. Just not fizzy drinks. Be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush all the nasty toxins out of your system.
But, if by now you’ve already failed at Dry January, you can just start again. Just go for as long as you can. And if you’ve failed because the cravings or need for alcohol got too much or was making you physically ill, then you really should speak to your GP and seek out professional help. You can do this. But just do it safely if you think you have an unaddressed problem.
Let me know how your Dry January is going!