How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Alcohol

Alcohol is insidious and our consumption can creep up over the years. What starts out as the odd drink when socializing can evolve into a daily ritual of a glass or two of wine.

Those glasses of wine can easily add up to more than the recommended low risk limits which are just a bottle and a half of wine a week. Drinking more than that can put our physical and mental health at risk.

For some of us the relationship with alcohol begins as a fun flirtation in our 20s, a parenting aid in our 30s and 40s and eventually, can become a coping mechanism for stress and loneliness in our 50s and 60s.

As we hit our 60s there are many health reasons for ditching the booze completely.

Even if you are confident that you are drinking within the recommended limits then do make sure that you are taking regular breaks. Not only will an alcohol-free month benefit your health but it’s a great way to monitor your dependence on alcohol.

If getting through your alcohol-free month is a breeze then that confirms you have a healthy relationship with alcohol.

How I Tried (And Failed) to Take Breaks from Alcohol

Did you know that 20% of social drinkers will become dependent over the years? I was one of those 20% and eventually, had to quit completely.

When I was a drinker, I would often resolve to have a month off alcohol.

I knew it was a toxin and that just a month off alcohol would have significant health benefits. More importantly, it would confirm that I was not becoming dependent.

So, every time a new month came around I would be full of determination to make this month an alcohol-free one.

I would be full of determination but come 5pm I would start to feel anxious at the thought of a long alcohol-free evening ahead. If something good (or bad) had happened during the day, then even more reason to have a drink to celebrate (or commiserate).

After a few days of trying and failing, I would invariably decide that the alcohol-free month could wait until the following month when I would be feeling stronger.

In my case, it was already too late and my dependence on alcohol finally got to the point where I had to quit. If I’d got into the habit of taking regular breaks when I was younger, I may not have got to that stage.

One of the (many) mistakes I was making was trying to do this alone and also thinking it would be easy. Surely, it was just a matter of not opening up the wine at 6pm every evening?

If you are a regular drinker, taking regular breaks is a way to ensure that you don’t develop a drinking problem like I did.

Here are some tips to get your through:

10 Tips to Get You Through an Alcohol-Free Month

Shake Up Your Routine

Use your alcohol-free month as an opportunity to shake things up a bit. If you stick to your usual routine (without the alcohol), you will feel something is missing. Far better to use this time to take up a new hobby or start attending a new class. Don’t just sit around the house doing nothing as you’re far more likely to be hit with a craving for a glass of wine!

Track Your Progress

You can create a monthly tracker of your own or you can email janet@tribesober.com and I’ll send you one of ours. At the end of each alcohol-free day, colour in your square; even better – colour it in when you wake up and set your intention for the day. Enjoy a sense of achievement as you watch those AF days building up as you progress through the month.

Stock Up on Alcohol-Free Drinks

There has been an explosion in the alcohol-free drinks market over the last few years. Use this opportunity to be sober curious and explore what’s available. Transfer your “wine-tasting” skills to the alcohol-free versions. Drygoodsdrinks.com have a fantastic selection so order a few choices and find your favourites.

Remove Alcohol from the House

You’ll need plenty of space in your fridge to store your alcohol-free drinks, so now is the time to remove any alcoholic drinks that might tempt you. Move them into the garage perhaps – just somewhere you don’t have to look at them on a daily basis. Make it easy on yourself by removing temptation!

Play the Movie Forward

If you are hit by a craving for a glass of wine, just play the movie forward. Is it really going to be the one glass or will it lead to another? Imagine how you will feel the next morning when you wake up feeling disappointed in yourself and have to record your slip-up on your tracker.

Journal

If you haven’t yet discovered the many benefits of journaling, then use this month as an opportunity to try it out. Buy a lovely notebook and keep a daily record of how your alcohol-free month is going. Is it easy? What benefits are you experiencing? If it’s proving to be a bit tricky, then what are you struggling with?

Exercise

If you don’t yet have a daily exercise routine in place, this could be the month you get started. The benefits of exercise for our mental and physical health are well documented. Make this the month you try out yoga or meditation. A brisk one-hour walk will trigger your happy brain chemicals and lift your spirits.

Listen to a Podcast Every Day

Podcasts are free and they are brilliant for multi-tasking. If you’d like a bit of moral support for your alcohol-free month, then listen to the Tribe Sober podcast while doing your daily walk. It’s full of expert advice and inspirational stories. More than 200 episodes are available on Apple and Spotify.

You Do You!

It’s so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of people pleasing. Try to be a bit selfish during your alcohol-free month. Think carefully before accepting any social invitations which involve alcohol. Learn how to say “no” when you need some time for yourself. Slow down a bit and discover the joy of “me” time.

Join a Community

If you’ve tried before and struggled to achieve an alcohol-free month, you will find it so much easier if you join a sobriety group. You can sign up to Tribe Sober for a month and connect with other people who will understand and support you. You’ll meet people who are embracing an alcohol-free lifestyle, and you may even decide to join them!

Make It a Time for Personal Growth

To get the most out of your alcohol-free month, you need to get your mindset right. Rather than see it as a month of deprivation, reframe it as an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery and improved well-being. Use your break from alcohol to educate yourself about the (many) benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle by signing up for Tribe Sober’s Sobriety Bootcamp.

Four times a year we run our 5-day Sobriety Bootcamps, and many people have used them to kickstart an alcohol-free lifestyle.

We’ve just launched an “on-demand” version so you can sign up today and start tomorrow!

Learn all about mindset, moderation and motivation with the Tribe Sober Team.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How many years have you been drinking? Do you drink consistently – a glass or two of wine most evenings? Have you ever tried to take a break to test your dependence? Have you noticed an impact on your looks after taking a break? Did you lose weight? Do you ever worry about your drinking? Do you feel happy in your retirement?

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