On this week’s blog, we’ll be covering how to keep up your momentum once you’ve changed your relationship with alcohol. Just like diet and exercise, our relationship with alcohol is one that unfolds over our lives and can change depending on our circumstances – so it is a good idea to keep an eye on it over time and know our warning signs that we are returning to old behaviour. With that in mind, here are three tips for keeping up the great progress you’ve made so far:
1. Reflect on What’s Changed
Once we hit our ‘new normal’ and the novelty starts to wear off, our motivation can drop off. It can be useful to have an ongoing practice where you can look back to where you started, and consider how your decision to change, and subsequent actions, have resulted in where you are now. This might look like a monthly catch-up with a counsellor, attending a meeting, or checking in with a friend – or perhaps doing some journaling and listing the major benefits of not drinking, or drinking in moderation. You can also reflect on future goals and how you might work towards these too – with a focus on personal growth and development.
2. Early Warning Signs
Being really honest with yourself is going to be really helpful here. It’s likely you know what your early warning signs for relapse or heading back to old behaviours are – maybe this is keeping alcohol in the house, spending time around people who are drinking to excess, cancelling your counselling appointments, or getting less sleep and doing less exercise. Having a list of ‘early warning signs’ to look out for – and asking a partner or friend to keep an eye on them too – is a great way to be kind to your future self. We know that relapse and return to old ways of thinking and behaving often occur around times of stress – if we’re grieving, tired, run down, sick, frustrated or lonely, we’re likely to revert to old habits and ways of being. Raising your awareness of this means that you can take action before the early warning signs become big red flags.
3. Maintain Support
Once we’ve made big changes, we can sometimes feel the need to move on – it doesn’t make sense to keep going to meetings, to keep messaging in your online support group, to keep seeing a counsellor, to keep talking to your friends about your moderate drinking. The reality is that it is these supports that get us through to the longer term – maybe we don’t use them as much, but at least having them as an option means they are there if needed. Rather than switching off from your supports altogether, see them as you might a physiotherapist or dentist – making an appointment or reaching out as needed, knowing that when you do you’ll get what you need and be ok for a while longer. Social and professional support have been shown to be a key in making lasting behaviour change – so make sure you keep linked in, whatever that looks like for you.
We hope you found these tips useful. If you’re thinking it is time to make some changes to your relationship with alcohol, I’d recommend you visit the Daybreak app. You can get the help and support you need from a community of people with similar goals to you, as well as help with getting more support if you need it. Changing your relationship with alcohol doesn’t have to be drastic or involve huge changes to your lifestyle – it is more about figuring out what is going to work for you.