How to regroup after a tough day, without turning to alcohol  

Your car wouldn’t start. 

You missed a work deadline.  

You had an argument with a teenager. 

You’ve been on the road all day. 

You lost a client. 

Your presentation was a fizzer. 

Your washing machine broke down. 

You missed the train.  

Your girlfriend dumped you.  

Your lecturer is droning on and on.  

You forgot to pay an important bill on time. 

You left the oven on, and now dinner is overcooked. 

 

Sound familiar?  We’ve all had those days. 

What’s alarming is that this can lead to an increased urge to pour yourself a drink to process the news, self-soothe after the drama and regroup.  

In 2020, 46% of women who participated in a Hello Sunday Morning study into topline behaviours and harmful affects of alcohol said they ‘drink to relieve the stress of the day.’

Additionally, 21% of male drinkers aged 65-74 years fall into the ‘very high risk’ drinking category, consuming on average more than 31 standard drinks in a 7-day period. This is almost double the rate of the average drinker aged 18+.

The study also reported that with alcohol easily accessible we’re more inclined to drink when we are set off by something that goes wrong, and tempted to reach for a wine, beer or mixed drink to carry us through from crisis to crisis.  

But it doesn’t have to be that way. How about we try to get you from here, to here. 

Old me – open a bottle of wine 

New me – takes a walk with a mate  

Our Daybreak app Care Navigators suggest that being able to recognise what sets you off and triggers you to reach for a drink is a critical step in limiting your alcohol intake.  

There are two types of triggers: 

  • External triggers – people, places, things, or times of day that offer drinking opportunities or remind you of drinking.  
  • Internal triggers  you may have been set off by a sudden thought, a positive or negative emotion such as frustration, or a physical sensation such as anger, anxiety, tension, or nervousness. 

When triggers set you off, using alcohol as a coping mechanism can be a way of dealing with your thoughts and feelings. Some people may drink when they feel stressed or anxious, when they feel bad about themselves, or to block out certain memories.  

But using alcohol in this way doesn’t help to solve the issue and will only ever numb or mask it for a while. It can also result in people dealing with alcohol dependency issues later on down the line.  

Being able to recognise what sets you off
and triggers you to reach for drink
is a critical step in limiting your alcohol intake

Lucy’s story – how knowing her triggers helped her change her drinking habits  

 

Read award winning speaker and author Lucy Bloom’s reflection about how she modified her drinking, and how identifying and planning around her triggers helped her maintain her commitment.  

Regrouping without alcohol takes determination and focus, but you stand to gain so much physically and emotionally if you stick with it. The secret is to plan for better coping strategies to deflect how you handle tough times. 

Try these alternatives: 

Trigger: My team lost a game, and I drink to soften the blow  

Alternative: Take up a high adrenalin, easy to access activity like bike riding, swimming or running to sweat it out 

 

Trigger: The kids took forever to get to sleep, I just need to relax with a drink  

Alternative: Swap the wine glass for herbal tea and Netflix, or a lavender bath to promote better sleep.  

 

Trigger: After work drinks have become my weekly social life where one drink becomes 5  

Alternative: Decline the drinks, and tell colleagues you’ve made plans with family instead  

 

Trigger: Saturday night BBQ’s mean several drinks with friends  

Alternative: Create a Sunday morning plan of kayaking, walking, house projects or road trip so you have an excuse to go home with a clear head  

 

Trigger: A bad day at work always drives me to have a glass or two 

Alternative: Don’t bottle it up – lace up the runners and get stuck into some high intensity exercise.  

 

Trigger: I can never say no to friends who insist I have a drink 

Alternative: Tell them ‘I’m sorry alcohol just isn’t good for me anymore’ 

 

 

Looking for more ideas? 

Try online community support 

Many in our Hello Sunday Morning community join our Daybreak app to counteract this. Read research summary from VicHealth about Benefits, barriers and strategies when giving up alcohol here.  

What are your triggers? 

6 Comments

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  • I agree about triggers. My partner is fond of a beer or 2 with his fave quiz shows. I want to please him by joining in with a wine or 4. A bath or a walk would help me to break that cycle.
    I so want the benfits of sobriety!

    By Wendy Tylor-Smith
    |
    April 30, 2022
  • How do I stop loving the buzz. I don’t drink to escape, relax or any of the triggers. Cant find a replacement for the buzz. Any others out there feel the same?

    By Hells Bells
    |
    April 30, 2022
    • Read Alcohol Explained. The buzz is your brain producing chemicals to counteract the depressive effect of the alcohol. Once you get into the cycle of heavy drinking-withdrawal it is like a roller coaster. I used to miss the highs too but now I prefer feeling better overall as a baseline and I certainly don’t miss the lows…

      By Rich
      |
      May 2, 2022
    • I have worked on many triggers but also can’t find a good replacement for the buzz/ euphoria. Please help

      By DG
      |
      May 7, 2022
  • I stopped for a long time (almost two years) and then had a snorkeling accident where I nearly drowned and had a beer straight afterwards and the cycle began again. I am sober now again and have been for well over a year and I don’t need alcohol to deal with the daily stress. My moods and everything have been much more stable since I stopped but I do have a worry at the back of my mind about a major crisis (bereavement etc.) triggering me again like last time.

    By Rich
    |
    May 2, 2022
    • Best wishes for you current crisis and that it end all well. Please stay strong!

      By DG
      |
      May 7, 2022
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