5 steps to breaking your ‘after work drink’ habit

It’s a routine thousands of people get stuck in: come home from a stressful day at work or with the kids, kick the shoes off, undo the belt and poor a glass of wine or crack open a beer. Sure, this is a nice way to relax and mark the end of a day, however, when that one drink turns into a bottle, things can start to get out of control.

If this is you, don’t worry – you are not alone. Statistics from our Daybreak mobile app shows that nearly half of our members drink after work.

Most of our members (90%) have tried cutting back, however, few experienced any long-term success in changing their relationship with alcohol. These numbers show us that it is HARD to break the routine once we have developed a dependence on alcohol to unwind at the end of the day.

So how do I stop drinking when I get home?

1. Identify the need.

There are a few techniques we recommend to our members who are trying and break this habit. The first one is understanding what the need for the alcohol is at the time. In this case, the drink would fill the need of wanting to switch off from ‘work/mum mode’ and relax into the evening. When we recognise and understand why we are drinking, it can help us realise that there are alternative, healthier ways to relax.

2. Swapping out the alcohol.

For some, a drink after work is a way to mark the end of the day. So this could still be done with swapping an alcoholic drink to a non-alcoholic drink. We have had feedback from members in our community who recommend having a selection of tasty alcohol-free drinks at home ready to go. Daybreak Members have also shared with us a great tip – pour your alcohol-free drink into a nice glass, so that way you feel like it is more special!

Alcohol-free drink ideas:

– Soda water with lime

– Apple Cider Vinegar & Tonic

– Seedlip & Tonic

– Homemade Ginger Beer

– Kombucha

– Mocktails (some ideas from the team at HSM HQ)

3. Finding an alternative activity.

If you know you get home at 5:30/6pm and pour yourself a drink, you could try something different at that exact time instead. A good idea could be to go for a walk, as moving your body after sitting at a desk all day can help you feel physically and mentally better and more clear minded. If you find you don’t have the energy for any physical activities, you could run yourself a bath or find a quiet place at home and listen to a guided meditation for a minimum of 10 minutes. If you’re a creative person, you could start a creative project to work on after work like sewing or making something crafty. Our members have found it can be helpful to try a few of these different activities to see what works best.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

There are a lot of people in the same boat as you! Online communities like Daybreak are a great way to have support at your fingertips. You could also follow blogs you like, and read up on Hello Sunday Morning’s blogs and social media posts, as they are created to inspire you with some great ideas to help you change your relationship with alcohol.

5. Be compassionate with yourself.

It is not going to be an easy routine to break, so be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit for trying! It might help to set small goals like, “I am only going to have a drink after work three nights a week, and the other nights I’ll go to a fitness class or read my book on the couch.”

If you become overwhelmed by strong urges when you get home from a hard day and all you want to do is pick up that wine glass, it may help to try this exercise one of our Daybreak health coaches shares with people who need support:

Think of the ocean, the urge is a huge wave, you know it’s big and it’s strong but it will subside if you hang in there. The waves/urges will become smaller and you will become stronger, and in time the waves become even smaller and further apart and far more manageable to deal with.

If you find you need extra support to help you change, check out Hello Sunday Mornings’ mobile behaviour change program, Daybreak.


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  • This looks very helpful but without a glass or two of red after work, I often find it difficult to go to sleep. Do you have any suggestions?

    By Ian Teh
    August 8, 2018
  • After work is my downfall – I don’t stop at one! These are good tips, but the best is to get some support; I can’t go it alone.

    By Kate
    August 9, 2018
  • Great advice thank you

    By Jkelly
    August 9, 2018
    • I saw wonders, my Lover came back to me and my life got back just like a completed puzzle… am so happy.. thanks to Robinsonbucler {@} gmail. com for saving my Relationship. Mr Robinson is the best I’ve ever met! _________________________________((^_^)) Thank you! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      By Ana Bertrand
      July 3, 2020
  • I have found drinking non alcoholic wine has worked. I drink it from a wine glass and it has all the sense of wine without the alcohol. Not sure if that is avoiding the issue but I have been doing that for the past month and haven’t pined too much for the real thing.

    By Cheryl Crisp
    August 9, 2018
  • I wish my husband wanted to stop too it’s hard when I see him drinking and I’m trying to stop any tips

    By Julie
    August 9, 2018
    • Put tonic in a fancy glass

      By Rebecca Sofka
      October 17, 2023
    • I keep in mind what happens after the drinks and one of the most important is that there is no way you can be fully present when you have alcohol. You are not fully aware and therefore…you are drugged. That is no way to live!

      By Janey
      October 17, 2023
    • I find it really helpful to remember that there are a lot of things that my husband and I do differently. He’s got some dietary restrictions because of health issues but I don’t need to give up nuts and seeds (diverticulitis) or butter (heart issues) just because he does. He’s also able to stop at one glass so drinking isn’t an issue for him, but it is for me.

      If your husband also has issues around drinking too much you could flip things from “why isn’t he supporting me?” to “this could be a great way to support him.”

      By Meg
      February 18, 2024
  • This is so timely as just this morning I said to my husband I felt all my hard work during dry july just went out of the window! It is that time of changeover from work to home that causes me so much grief.

    By Laney
    August 10, 2018
  • It took me quite a long time to break the habit but I found cold turkey worked best. I didn’t drink at all for 6 months and then just every now and then after that. This week I realised I had drunk 4 nights in a row (it was a long weekend)! It’s a slippery slope.. I have found that reminding myself over and over of all the shitty things about alcohol (interrupted sleep, eating crap, reduced ability to get up and exercise the next day, guilt, money, weight gain, shitty skin) is the most powerful way to stop myself from reaching for the bottle.

    By Lee
    August 10, 2018
  • I did the 100 day no grog challenge and found that drinking something cold and bubbly (mineral water) for example helped the transition nicely. When you do have the urge to have a drink after work, recognise that feeling/craving, drink that mineral water, relax and after a short period ask yourself if you still want that drink now.

    By Sean
    August 19, 2018
  • I found this article helpful. I have realized that wanting to stop drinking is only the beginning and that formulating a strategy of swapping out bad habits for healthy ones is what will help me take my first steps.

    By Danielle
    December 19, 2018
  • I found this useful, I was wondering if there are any tonics/medicines/vitamins that you buy to help with the detox situation. Every morning I say that’s it today I’m stopping and by 430 pm I’m looking forward to having a drink

    By Teresa
    February 17, 2019
  • I have fallen into the trap i do split shifts everyday by 9 pm. All i want is a drink to wind down relax switch off one turns to two two turns to 12. A 60 dollar a night habit if i have the $$$ ive tried to push it aside but if my bank account says i can i will stop at bottle shop on way home. I want to stop this i want to come home and be satisfied with a cup of tea and dinner. I need suggestions on what i can do in order to achieve this. I can 2 or 3 days pushing that urge aside but then i cave. Im open for anything please

    By Nicole Sampson
    May 29, 2019
    • I work shifts too and as a healthcare provider. I see this first hand and think that won’t be me. It when I get home I’m so overwhelmed by the day I’ve had all I can think of is a drink to chill me out. That ends up in up in a bottle or two usually split with hubby and sometimes not. My dad was an alcoholic and as a kid didn’t get it but as an adult I totally do. I’m obviously aware or I wouldn’t be looking in this site. I function and work hard and feel it’s some kind of reward. I just don’t want to end up like him. I’m a merry drunk never aggressive and it’s a way of letting my hair down again tho fully aware of the risks but still I do it! I feel I do make excuses of why I should or be entitled to unwind. I don’t think I’m out of control but the more I read and also work in healthcare and see what alcohol does first hand I should have a better attitude m. Just don’t know where to go from here.

      By Susan
      September 3, 2022
      • I should also add that this increased in covid and when I lost my dad m. I defiantly drank way more than average but I think everyone did. What else was there to do. It just didn’t reduce as much a di would have liked. Again I still work, look after my kids and never aggressive or annoying to anyone else.

        By Susan
        September 3, 2022
      • You are not alone, Reducing is hard let alone giving up. You obviously feel guilt towards your drinking, Same as me. I want to be healthy and watch my kids grow up and not have them think of mum and a wineo, Try Hypnotherapy to change your habits maybe? It’s a hard habit to cut but persistence is the key. Do it for not only you but your kids 🙂
        ( I’m not trying to give you advice either ) I’m just someone who is in the same boat as you, wishing you all the best

        By Emma
        September 14, 2022
      • Im in the exact same boat! Lost a sibling not a parent though. I also have worked Healthcare and I just get such a feeling of dread and anxiety when I get home. I view it as a reset and then the next day I’m totally ready to redo everything. My only problem is that after this year somehow I’m no longer as productive with drinks. I used to clean my house and get so much done because it took away my anxiety and task paralysis snd now it’s been making me too tired so that’s why I’m regretting it after I drink too many. How is your progress 2 years later?

        By Ashley
        March 25, 2024
  • I love to unwind on Friday nights but I sometimes can’t seem to stop at one the Saturday I’m hung over so at 3 pm I’m fixing my first drink to kill the hurt if my Friday night hangover

    By Rose Hart
    July 19, 2019
  • i can’t stop drinking at, least not for good, i quit every year as a new year resolution, usually a month, once for three months lost 30 lbs .i’m sure my wife would divorce me, but she has her demons and smokes weed doesn’t complain much about me . my drinking goes unopposed almost every day, i tell myself today is the day i will quit, which is what i’m doing today . fighting the urge to go and pick up a bottle

    By george
    November 29, 2019
  • FANTASTIC~ this article was what I needed to read has helped me to re wire my brain from to ginger iced tea ~ thank you

    By Marie Honer
    January 14, 2020
  • It’s dam hard trying to change that craving…..I can see my body wanting that drink around the same time on the weekends . Starts at 6 pm to 8 pm. The way I am stopping the craving is going to the gym at that time…driving past the water hole

    By Jim k
    January 27, 2020
  • Hey, I’m a guy who lives by himself and after finishing a week of work, I reckon I deserve a burbs or two. But like a lot of people out there, two or three turns into heaps more and Saturday becomes a blur with 50% gone from your weekend. Time to re-evaluate and concentrate on fitness me thinks.

    By Phil
    March 7, 2020
  • I need to change my habits my family and friends are ready to leave me

    December 26, 2020
    • Thank you for sharing. It sounds like it’s a tough time for you right now and we want you to know that there is support available. Check out the Daybreak app to connect with others who may be going through a similar experience or reach out to a health professional such as GP. Lifeline is also available for support 24/7 on 13 11 14. Take care, The HSM Team.

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      December 27, 2020
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