Here are our top 10 tips to staying alcohol free, which may help you curb the habit that much easier. These are practical tips that you can start implementing right now!
1. Don’t keep alcohol in the house.
Turns out, we all have downer days in life – those are the days when we won’t have as much self-control. You’ll end up eating and drinking whatever is left in the house, or you’ll convince yourself you deserve a ‘treat’ because this may provide a lift to your day.
Not keeping any alcohol will prevent this from being your treat – we’d recommend a good tub of ice cream instead! As an added benefit: your friends are going to absolutely love you if you give them free alcohol. Make the most out of their newfound adoration while it still lasts!
2. Attempt a physical challenge.
This can be anything from a basic weight-loss challenge (or more ambitious challenges for the not so faint hearted).
Having a physical goal gives you a big reason to quit drinking – and also comes in handy as a reason why you’re not drinking. It’ll potentially rally your friends to your cause; they may even end up being your biggest supporters!
There are countless benefits here – including better long-term health, looks, self-esteem, new friends, new hobbies … and much more. This is the best time to try, and you may even find yourself in a great positive spiral.
3. Remind yourself of why you’re doing it (and the potential benefits).
Sometimes, it’s a matter of understanding and remembering what you felt when you first made the decision to cut drinking.
Was it for your family? Was it for the health benefits? Or did you just want to feel more productive with your life? Reminding yourself every day of your goals in life will keep you focused on why you would want to stay alcohol free.
There are a number of different ways you can start implementing this tactic. You could paste the reason as a post-it around your house and workplace. You could implement this as a reminder on your phone; or include this in your morning routine and gratitude practices. Another way this could be implemented is for you to direct your focus on what you’re getting out of your social gatherings – which you may not need the help of alcohol to do.
It seems like a very simple tip, but it’s also very easy to forget as our lives can get very busy!
4. Surround yourself with people who are also alcohol free (or don’t drink as much).
Having trouble surrounding yourself with people similar to you in the AF crusade?
There’s a saying: ‘You are the average of the 5 people around you’. What this means is that you’ll eventually be similar to the people around you, based on proximity. If they’re always drinking, it makes it that much harder for you to stay alcohol free!
That’s not to say your friend groups should be exclusively those who don’t drink a lot. However, this is a great way to stay alcohol free and keep that behaviour top of mind – especially when you are first building the habit. Afterwards, it might be okay to let the people of old back into your life.
5. Join a support group.
There’s no shame in joining a support group for whatever your problem is – especially alcohol. The reason is very simple: it helps you internalise that whatever problem you’re facing, you’re not facing it alone. You’re on a journey together, and you can cheer and motivate each other along the way to being AF.
If you find that you can’t locate a physical support group around, check out our support app Daybreak. It’s a beautiful community of people, with anonymous online handles. Posting in the community feed whatever your thoughts are, is a great way to feel supported, as people are active in the app and will respond quickly and positively.
6. Focus on one step at a time. Set some realistically achievable targets, such as not drinking for a week.
Instead of having an ambitious target, it is much better to take this journey step by step so you can digest and be able to mentally prepare for it.
Common challenges to do would be to go alcohol-free for 1 or 3 months, but we’d recommend you do it for at least a week first. It’s a universally achievable goal which will give you the mental confidence to stay alcohol free and will act as the momentum for positive behaviour change.
7. Be the designated driver whenever you go out.
If you do decide to go out, try to drive out instead of opting for public transport.
This is a great way of forbidding yourself to drink, especially if your friends want to get lifts home.
It’s also handy as a quick getaway in case you find the social event too difficult to handle – in terms of temptations to drink, or even if you decide to go home early.
8. Find a great substitute drink, and have this served in a nice glass.
Instead of restricting yourself to water whenever you enter a bar, it’ll be much better to order a drink you’d actually enjoy.
There are the obvious choices of soft drinks or fruit juices, but if you don’t like these, there are a couple of alcohol-free drinks that you can try instead. Here’s a couple that we like.
If you’d like to try to make some AF drinks yourself, here’s a list of recipes that we’ve created for you.
9. Forgive yourself.
Even if you drink one too many, forgive yourself. Feeling guilty will only give you more stress, making you more inclined to drink again!
Take control of your emotions, and understand that this is a journey that is different for everyone. Some people will be able to breeze through this, while for others it may be a bit harder. The most important thing is to continue to have the strength to keep going on this journey, rather than being so hard on yourself that you don’t want to.
10. Say hello to morning activities.
Now that you’re alcohol free, you’ll be waking up earlier and with fewer hangovers. Planning more fun morning activities will help take advantage of this clarity.
If you want to socialise, go out with your friends for either breakfast or brunch. There’s also a long list of physical activities that you could pursue now as well. Make the most of your day – and say Hello Sunday Morning! To see what people are doing, visit the hashtag #hellosundaymorning” on Instagram.
Overall, we hope all of these tips will help you stay alcohol free in the coming year. Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint – success always comes off the back of failure and isn’t always the clearest of paths. It’s how we pick ourselves up and keep on going that matters the most.
If you find you need extra support to help you change, check out Hello Sunday Mornings’ mobile behaviour change program, Daybreak.