Congratulations on taking steps to change your relationship with alcohol! Whether you found it easier than expected, encountered some challenging moments, or experienced a few slip-ups with “just a few sips” (or more), transitioning back to your regular routine can be difficult once your public declaration of “I’m not drinking” or a specific event like Dry July has come to an end. It may feel like there’s less external support during this phase. At Hello Sunday Morning, we understand that changing any habit can be a challenging task. Taking a break from drinking alcohol requires courage and determination. Everyone has a unique experience when trying to change their drinking habits. Some may find it easier than expected, while others are surprised by the amount of effort required in the early days. The best thing to remember is that you’re not alone and that the journey you are on has been walked by many before you.
After reaching a goal or milestone, it is common to reach a point where you ask, “Now what?”. After a few weeks or months of not drinking, many people experience another decision point. “Do I keep going or go back and try and moderate my alcohol intake?” It can be difficult to know how to make this decision. Painful memories of past drinking events are not as fresh in the mind anymore, and it is normal to forget the reasons for wanting to make changes in the first place. Several fears can come up around this time... like the fear of ‘missing out’ on fun, or the fear of not being able to connect with others, or even fears about telling others that you’re not drinking for a longer period of time.’ Another common fear is the fear of simply not having alcohol at all in your life.
Here at Hello Sunday Morning, we've prepared five tips to help you navigate this decision point and assess where you are at with your relationship with alcohol.
1. Congratulate yourself and keep an open mindset
At this stage, you’ve most likely had some alcohol-free time under your belt and already taken the first step in wanting to change your relationship with alcohol and priorities a healthier lifestyle. Give yourself a pat on the back for this significant achievement!
You’ve proven to yourself that you have the determination and willpower to stick to your goals. By taking a break from alcohol, you’ve not only experienced the benefits to your liver, mental well-being, and overall health, but you’ve also shown that you’re capable of making positive changes in your life.
2. Make a note of the positive changes you experienced
Take the time to be truly present and mindful of your experience. Notice the subtle shifts and changes that have been happening within you.
- To wake up without a hangover
- To remember everything you did the night before
- To have that extra cash in your wallet not spent on late-night Ubers, expensive rounds at the bar, and greasy hangover food
- To have more time up your sleeve
- To go to the social event sober… and survive
- To come home from work and not reach for that glass or bottle of alcohol
If you can do it for a month, can you do it for longer?
Remember, this is a time for observation without judgment. Simply notice and reflect on these aspects, considering how they align with the life you envision for yourself.
3. Assess your relationship with alcohol
Think about the what, why, when, and how of your drinking. How much do you normally drink in a week? Three glasses a day is 21 a week, or more than a thousand a year. And the glasses you pour yourself are probably bigger than the ‘standard drinks’ used to measure health effects and long-term harms. Do you drink because it’s fun and enjoyable? Or because of habit and routine? Or because ‘everyone else around you is‘? If you’re drinking to manage stress, anxiety, or a bad day, what feelings come up for you when you want to reach for a drink? What situations trigger cravings? Often, the answers to these questions help you figure out whether or not to keep going with your alcohol-free goals.
4. Empowering Self-Talk
Once you have assessed your relationship with alcohol, it’s then time to support yourself to continue making changes. In the recovery community, there are numerous empowering phrases that are widely shared for a reason—they genuinely make a difference. On challenging days, harness the power of these phrases to cultivate a positive mindset:
- One day at a time
- Just for today
- Do the next right thing
- I got this! I can do this!
- Nothing worth having comes easy
Above all, remember to be compassionate towards yourself! Transforming habits can be difficult, especially in the early stages. Offer yourself kindness and understanding as you navigate this journey of change. Remember that progress is not always linear, and setbacks are natural. View any slip-ups as learning experiences.
5. Don't underestimate the power of support. Find your community!
When it comes to quitting or reducing alcohol, having a strong support system can make all the difference. Share your journey with your friends and family, as their support can be invaluable.
Additionally, consider connecting with others who are on a similar path. The Daybreak app community is a fantastic resource to find like-minded individuals and receive the support you need. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out, connect, and let the support uplift you.