It seems like there’s a whole corner of the internet devoted to the sober curious movement right now, and it doesn’t appear to be a passing trend—it’s more a cultural shift that’s challenging the way people think about their relationship with alcohol. At its core, it means being curious about what it might be like to cut down on drinking; potentially exploring alternative ways to socialise, relax, and unwind. Instead of automatically reaching for a drink in social situations, people are starting to drink more mindfully, asking themselves, “Do I really need this? And how does alcohol really make me feel?”

While it’s been in the ether for many years, the sober curious movement has enjoyed the spotlight more recently thanks in part to sub-groups of social media influencers, often young women, who promote cutting down or quitting as healthy and enjoyable, even in social settings where alcohol has traditionally had a firm hold. (The grip of the grape perhaps?).

There’s many reasons why women in particular might be drawn to the sober curious movement. For example, a great thing about it is its inclusivity. It’s not just for people who are concerned about their drinking —it’s for anyone who wants to take a closer look at their relationship with alcohol, regardless of how much or how often they drink. This could appeal to women who may have been put off by the traditional duality of ‘problem drinkers’ on the one hand, and the rest of the population on the other; allowing women an opportunity to talk about their relationship with alcohol and gain valuable support without feeling embarrassed or worried.

Women’s health is another commonly cited reason. Women’s bodies are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than men’s. Women tend to have lower body weight, higher body fat percentage, and generally less water in their bodies, which means that alcohol can hit them harder and faster. Plus, there’s the fact that alcohol has been linked to a host of health issues, including liver disease, breast cancer, and heart problems. And nobody misses those pesky hangovers or the dreaded hangxiety!

Some women highlight mental health as a significant prompt for being sober curious, particularly if alcohol has become their go to way to deal with stress, anxiety, or feelings of sadness or depression. It gives women an opportunity to find alternative and more nourishing ways to manage emotions and take care of themselves.

Other women have identified a desire for authenticity and connection as a drawcard for the sober curious movement. Alcohol has a way of clouding people’s judgment and potentially leading them to say and do things they wouldn’t normally do; creating barriers to genuine connection with others. By cutting back or quitting altogether, women can reclaim their authenticity and show up fully in their relationships, careers, and communities. Some say it’s like taking off a pair of sunglasses and seeing the world in full colour.

Of course, cutting down or quitting alcohol isn’t always easy. It can be a journey filled with ups and downs, challenges and triumphs. There may be social pressure to drink, feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out), and moments of temptation along the way. But for many women, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. From improved health to deeper connections to a greater sense of self-care, being sober curious can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

So, if you’re sober curious, there’s never been a better time to explore what life looks like with cutting down or quitting alcohol. It’s a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and growth. And who knows? You might just discover a version of yourself that you never knew existed.

Let’s face it. Parenting is a tough job, and it’s not uncommon to feel the need to unwind  after a long day or week. According to a groundbreaking study conducted by La Trobe University researchers last year, young children’s exposure to their parents’ alcohol consumption plays a vital role in shaping their beliefs and attitudes towards alcohol.

The researchers state that while most individuals start drinking in their teenage years, they discovered that perception of adult drinking behaviour is formed when children are at a young age through observational learning. This learning is affected by the physical and social environments where the children live. They also noted that studying the impact of children’s early exposure to alcohol is crucial because it can influence their perceptions of drinking norms, which in turn may forecast heavy and problematic drinking behaviours  for some of them as older teenagers. 



Strategies for Positive Role Modeling as a Parent

Fortunately, there are things you can do to be a positive role model for your children when it comes to alcohol. 

Many parents in the Hello Sunday Morning community have shared their concerns about their drinking habits impacting their ability to be present for their children’s milestones and special moments. Some have focused on resetting their drinking habits to counter the weekend hangovers that make family care more challenging. 

Here are some tips to consider: 

  • Be aware of your own drinking behaviour and the example you are setting. Consider reducing your alcohol intake or abstaining from alcohol altogether if you feel like your behaviour may be sending the wrong message to your children. 
  • Talk openly and honestly with your children, ensuring it is age appropriate, about the risks associated with alcohol and the importance of making responsible choices. Encourage them to ask questions and express their concerns. 
  • Set clear boundaries around alcohol use in your home, such as no drinking under the legal age or no excessive drinking. Enforce these boundaries consistently and communicate the consequences clearly. 
  • Model healthy coping strategies for stress and difficult emotions that do not involve alcohol. Encourage and teach your children how to develop healthy outlets for stress, such as exercise, mindfulness, or spending time with friends and family. 

Remember to take the pressure off yourself as a parent. We’re all doing our best and no one is perfect. The key thing is to be aware of the impact our own behaviours have on our children and the importance of modeling responsible drinking behaviour.  

By having open and honest conversations with our children about alcohol use and modeling healthy coping strategies for stress and difficult emotions, we can help shape the next generation’s future behaviour in a positive and responsible way.  

 

Like many of us, I have, for some time asked the question. Am I drinking too much? Is this a problem? Do I need this in my life?


Like many Australian men, my “rite of passage” was getting into pubs underage, getting “blind” and surviving the worst hangovers.


Although the dial has shifted on this in recent times, hangovers were a bragging point. As a result, binge drinking became a part of my social scene. Ev’s always in for a big night became the theme.

This continued, even after I was married, after I had children, and, as they grew. Although the regularity of my drinking decreased the extremes remained. For many people there is an extreme point which defines the need for a change. For me there were multiple, however, none of them were too extreme, some were a bit embarrassing, others not at all, but I certainly came to the point where I decided that my values and my binge drinking were at odds with each other.  

I value being healthy. Throughout my life I played sports and competed at different levels, mostly for the enjoyment and the feeling of being fit and healthy.


More importantly, I value my family and I knew that the example I was setting alongside my inability to function as a husband and a father were also at odds with my behaviour.


Like many blokes in their 50’s I wasn’t bouncing back any more as well, in fact it was more of a “splat” that left me running on two cylinders the next day. So I took a week off here and there, and took a month off once or twice. After each period, I would then pick up a drink again, but also each time I did this I was a bit wiser and self-aware. If you’re waiting for the crash to happen, it doesn’t. This is a story about moderation and my experience of it. 

I live in an environment which is quite unique, if I go to a party, my wife and I walk there. There is no “nah, I’m driving” happening. We have fairly regular dinners both at our home and at others, there is always wine and beer, there is a club up the road, we walk there. What this means is that the environment is very “forgiving” for someone who drinks too much. So when I cut back, I braced myself for inevitable pressure from others. I braced myself for wanting more and having to say no, not only to others but to myself. I read books on quitting with most painting fairly bleak pictures of the moderation approach.  


For me, if I have too much coffee - I get anxious and ineffective, and so I moderate it. I now take the approach that alcohol is in the same boat.

like to have a glass of wine with friends, but I know that if I have too many then I don’t get funnier, or smarter, I don’t become a better husband or father and I know that I will not look back tomorrow with fondness about my decision. So, I set some rules, the same way I do for regular exercise, coffee, chocolate and a range of other things in my life. 

 

What I also find is that the peer pressure aspect is less than I anticipated.

 

I have had periods of abstinence and that has been respected, sure, there have been comments and a nudge here and there but I have a few lines that I rattle off and that tends to do the trick. My standard is….

“nah, it’s been knocking me around I’m off it for a bit.”

or

“I’m topping out at two tonight, that’ll do me”.

If people don’t respect that, well, that’s on them. 

I know that moderation isn’t an option for many, and abstinence is seen as the only true approach. I respect, that for many, this is the case. But for those who want to simply cut back, or take a break, there is a way. My way is to take what I call a value driven approach. Essentially my actions are either helping me head towards these values or they aren’t. If they aren’t, I take corrective action, if that doesn’t work then I ask for help. This is my approach to alcohol. I have had many times where I have headed in the wrong direction. 

These are the times I speak to people and use DaybreakIt works for me and perhaps it will for you as well. 

Cheers

 Ev – from Hello Sunday Morning

The holiday season is a time of gatherings, celebrations and parties.  However,  it can also be stressful, filled with anxiety for individuals struggling with their relationship with alcohol. 

A big part of how we support our community is through sharing stories and encouragement from others. 

At the end of last year, we asked our Hello Sunday Morning community to share messages of hope and encouragement to anyone struggling over the holiday season. We are very appreciative and humbled by the responses. 

 

While the holiday season has come to a close, these messages are too empowering not to share with everyone.

We hope these messages will continue to inspire some changes and motivate others to keep going.  It’s through this supportive & non-judgemental community, we can help each other to change our individual relationship with alcohol.

Here are some of their messages: 

 

To anyone struggling, I believe in you! Be gentle with yourself. Trust the process and believe small steps add up over time.  It’s okay to reach out for help and build the support system that you need. You are not alone. You are worth it and can do this! 💚  

Be well 

………..

6 years ago I found the site Hello Sunday Morning.

I was struggling with alcohol and it wasn’t pretty. One day it hit me, I was done. I knew my days were numbered and my alcoholism was going to win. I stopped cold turkey. I went away for a month and faced the social anxiety and complexities that kept me “lubricated” not only faced them but discovered them and the why of them. It occurred to me that I needed to take better care of my body. I needed to rediscover it. NONE of this would have been possible without Hello Sunday Morning. It was my life line. I checked in all throughout the first days. Every white knuckle moment was shared and the sweet merit badges etc…kept me inspired and motivated.   

Finally, I can say after 6 years that I am pretty free. Oh, occasionally I will look at someone nursing a pretty cocktail and remember the experience. However, It never outweighs my sobriety and the luscious clarity being sober brings. I never have to recount my evenings and wonder “the who, what, and where” did I say something off??? JOYOUSNESS and when I don’t feel centered I stay home. I pick up my book, put on my jams and I am blissed out in my own company.  

  THANK YOU HSM   You saved my life. 

………..

Hi Everyone,  

  I would like to give a hug to everyone and say:  We’re all in this together! You are not alone!  Reach out to someone, you will be surprised .  Just how much kindness and compassion there is! Look at the positives, no matter  how small they seem.  

Lots of love to all .Your Neighbour 

………..

My message of hope.  

  On 31 December it will be 365 days  AF.  Has it been easy? No. Did I struggle at times? Yes. But I held fast to the commitment I made to myself.  

  Originally, I was going to try AF for 6 months. I told my daughters and my husband of my intentions so that they would hold me accountable. Was I a problem drinker? I didn’t think so? but I used alcohol to help my social anxiety and a bottle of wine or two each evening was not going to help me conquer this.   2022 has been a learning tool for me and I have been able to attend social occasions without alcohol and I have loved it. Grandbaby #5 decided to  come into the world at 10pm one night this year and I was able to jump in the car with no worries about what alcohol I had already consumed. I have also loved no headaches in the mornings and better nights sleep!   

  When I achieved the 6 months, I decided to keep going and I do not miss it at all. I am a better wife, mother and nana without the crutch of alcohol.    

  To anyone who is contemplating a NYE resolution, back yourself and give it a go. If you stumble along the way, start afresh the next day. We all stumble at times in our life, but it’s how we move forward that matters.   

  The HSM emails and the Daybreak app are wonderful resources. I rarely post, but there are some wonderful stories that I love reading. It’s an extended family that understands the struggle in a society that promotes a good time that includes alcohol on a daily basis.   

Merry AF Christmas everyone.    

………..

Never quit quitting.   It will get tough – but not forever.   You ride the wave out.   You wake up tomorrow, thankful you got through.   

The next time a wave hits you, you remember how you rode it out last time.  You can do this.  You feel better. You look fresher. The eyes never lie.   Ask for help. Find a community.  You will learn so much about yourself.   Find out who you really are and accept yourself. Flaws and all.   Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.   Enjoy the silence.   Be your own best friend.   Freedom.  If you fall, pick yourself up.   Say, today I will not drink.  Never quit quitting.   

Merry Christmas.   Envision 25/12/23.  Where could you be?   You could be alcohol free.  You could be free. 

………..

Day 980 Alcohol Free.  

  To whoever needs to read this: I never thought I would give up drinking.  I always hoped I would, but never thought I could.  On 23rd December it will be 2 years 6 months since I stopped drinking alcohol and my biggest relief was that my reliance on it turned out to be habitual.    

  I’ll admit that it was not easy to stop that habit but, as human beings, we’re not known for being good with change!!  The biggest benefit is everything!  Viewing life through eyes that aren’t fogged with alcohol is amazing.  It’s like seeing a digital colour and HD TV screen for the first time ,when previously all you’ve known as an analogue black and white TV!  

 Make the effort and you’ll thank yourself for the rest of your life! xxx” 

 ………..

We want to say a very big thank you to our community for their stories and messages of hope you sent to us. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to help so many others.  

We are looking forward to 2023 with you, as we continue to work towards a world where everyone has access to the support they need, in the moment they need it. 

 Our heartfelt thanks, 

The Hello Sunday Morning Team 

The holiday season is a time of celebration and joy. It is a time for excess and indulgences. During this time, alcohol consumption can increase by 40%, meaning many people drink more than they intended.

The holiday season can also be stressful, filled with anxiety, disappointment and loneliness. High expectations from relationships, families, colleagues and friends can be confronting and challenging to navigate. During such demanding times, even the best intentions for healthy living can quickly become unstuck and some people may slip into unhealthy behaviours with alcohol use. Making it a vulnerable time full of relapse triggers.

The demands of Christmas and all the stresses that come with it can often make it challenging to step back and give yourself the understanding and compassion you need and deserve. This can keep you stuck or pull you back into the vicious cycle that stands in the way of you moving closer to your core values. 

 

Be empathic towards yourself, especially when encountering emotional pain, grief or loneliness.

The shared experience between a community of people moderating their alcohol consumption or maintaining sobriety allows you to lean on others who understand what you are going through. Engaging with your peer community can provide motivation and hope that progress and recovery are not only possible but sustainable. Whether committing to a healthier approach to alcohol consumption, sobriety or supporting a friend or loved one, please know you don’t have to do this alone. Be sure to reach out to the Daybreak online peer community, where you can receive support while supporting and encouraging others at the same time.

Whether you are taking a mindful approach to your alcohol consumption, especially around Christmas time, or you are in sobriety or are thinking about a change, everyone can benefit from having a personalised toolkit.
 
A personalised toolkit helps you build a robust self-care framework you can draw on at any time or place, no matter where you may be on your journey. It’s your personal investment in learning new ways to check in with yourself, manage difficult emotions, tolerate distress and self-soothe without alcohol.
A collection of evidence-based tips, tools and strategies you can personalise and rely on to help you navigate challenging times. These strategies provide healthy alternatives to help relieve emotional pain and shift a stressful state of mind instead of relying on alcohol to achieve that relief.
 
The Healthy Sober Living Toolkit can help you master the skills for managing challenges and living your life with clarity and purpose.
 
Remember to make yourself a priority in your own life and treat yourself with kindness. 
 
Thank you for being you. Go well!
 
Dominique

With another year come and gone – what a year it has been!  As I reflect on 2022, it’s clear there have been many great achievements.   

I am extremely proud to say in 2022, Hello Sunday Morning’s Daybreak program welcomed an additional 10,000 new members.  

Bringing our community to a total of 120,570! 

It’s through this supportive & non-judgemental community, we can help each other to change our individual relationship with alcohol. Whether it’s wanting to cut back on drinking or quit completely. 

Throughout the year we have received many stories of lives being changed, soberversaries celebrated and commitments to changing for the better. You inspire us all!

However, this is not to say that the year has not brought with it many obstacles. 

As we adjust to a new post COVID world, it’s not a surprise that many Australians are still struggling with alcohol. And the statistics are sobering. Alcohol related deaths jumped to the largest amount in a decade. And that’s off the back of an increase from the previous year. The cost of alcohol related harm is in the region of $22.6 billion (yes billion) in 2021. 

This has meant there has been a significant increase in demand for services. 2022 saw about half a million people trying to get into programs in Australia. 

Christmas is a challenging time for people struggling with their drinking. Christmas parties, Christmas at home and then we’re into January with the weather and the long weekend at the end of January.  

But what does this mean for us?

It means we need to do more. Here at Hello Sunday Morning, we must double down on our efforts to improve reach and access for all who are needing the help.   

As an independent run charity, for us to continue providing our program for free such as Daybreak for Australians – we need your support now more than ever. Whilst we receive some government funding, a large proportion of our program is only made possible by your donations. We rely on the financial support of generous people such as yourself to help all those who turn to us for assistance. 

If you can afford a small amount and you are not going through your own struggles, please think about giving to us this holiday season. 

Donate today

On a last note, I would like to thank our Hello Sunday Morning staff, corporate partners, donors and you our community for your continual work and commitment. I am extremely proud to work day in and day out with a team of people – who are tirelessly committed to helping our community develop a healthier relationship with alcohol. The fabric and success of Hello Sunday Morning is due to our employees and in 2022, we have enjoyed many achievements. I cannot thank you enough for your enthusiasm and commitment. 

From my family to yours and from all of us at Hello Sunday Morning. I wish you a safe holiday season and a happy New Year. 

Andy Moore 

CEO  

Drinking alcohol for people under 40

You might have heard about a recent study suggesting that people under 40 are best advised not to drink. No doubt, this has caused concerns for some, along with other mixed feelings including shame and the feeling of being judged. Studies and their findings can be used to guide personal decisions. They can also keep us informed of any health risks and benefits that may emerge from the data.    

So, where does Hello Sunday Morning as an organisation stand on this?  

Before we answer that question, it is important to drill down to what exactly this study found and concluded. We will dive deeper into three areas: the study findings regarding young drinkers in particular, HSM’s general view and, where to from here. Hopefully you will be able to make your own informed decisions about your own drinking behaviour. 

The study

The Global Burden of Disease analysis published in The Lancet suggests that ‘alcohol consumption carries significant health risks and no benefits for young people.’ Young people in this case are people age between 15-39 years old. The study found that over 59% of participants in that age group were drinking at high-risk levels. Furthermore, 77% of them were males. Overall, the concentration of harmful alcohol consumption for this age group reached in excess of the NDE (Near Death Experience).  

In terms of geography, the majority of participants who drank excessively were in Australasia, along with Western and Central Europe. Interestingly, the study did find that older adults may benefit from drinking a small amount of alcohol due to their higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease.  

This study recommended that more tailored guidelines that are culturally appropriate and targeted specifically at the under 40 age group is a priority. Guidelines should clearly outline safe alcohol consumption levels and evidenced-base interventions. 

 

Let’s take a have a look at our own drinking culture.

Are Australian under 40 drinking alcohol exceedingly?

According to the National Survey 2020-2021 by ABS, ‘almost seven in ten (69.5%) people aged 18 years and over did not exceed the guideline.The guidelines used here is according to the NHMRC standard drink recommendations. The survey reports that out of those who consume alcohol exceeding the standard guidelines, 1 in 7 are aged 18-24 years old and 1 in 4 are aged 55-65 years old. See graph from ABS below: 

So, are young people drinking less?

We can see from the statistics above that younger Aussies are drinking less. This might be because they are more health conscious as there are more resources available to educate them about health. Some even argue that the social media culture attributes to this decision. There is a sense of awareness around self-image and self-love (eating well and exercising as a part of self-care and mindfulness); the availability of online dating also opens more opportunities for people to socialise online rather than meeting at pubs and bars. Top that off with the rise of the sober curious movement and the growth of zero to low alcoholic drinks that make it easy for people to opt out from drinking.  

When asked what drives the shift in the change of culture (of young people drinking less), Dr Nicole Lee, CEO of drug and alcohol consultancy 360 Edge, also a board member of Hello Sunday Morning said that in her observations ‘we don’t know for sure what is driving it. But I think there is an element of people having children a bit later, so well after their heavy drinking period. So, the modelling of more sensible drinking is more available. Whereas if you have kids in your early 20s and you are still drinking quite a fair bit. Such as going to backyard BBQs with all your friends and drinking heaps, then your kids will see that as well’ . 

Although we don’t know for certain what drives the shift, the issue is not how much younger and older adults consume alcohol according to statistics. The study instead was highlighting the point that more attention needs to be placed on Guidelines. Hence, the Global Burden of Disease suggesting a need for more targeted guidelines with the aim to minimise harm and health loss.  

Where does that leave you?

There are certain rules and guidelines to a healthy relationship with alcohol. They are designed to help reduce or minimise harm. Guidelines can be useful, but every individual is different. People are complex beings and the relationship between drinking and upbringing, or life experiences are closely related. Where you live, what kind of social circles you belong to, which generation and what ethnicity you are – all of these have an influence on your relationship with alcohol. Whether drinking excessively, moderating or abstaining; over or under 40, the wise approach is to first ask yourself, ‘am I happy with my relationship with alcohol?’ And if you are not, then the next approach would be to consult with a health professional to better understand your health and options. 

To be clear, at Hello Sunday Morning, we support people from all different stages of their journey towards a healthier relationship with alcohol. This means whatever age group you are, whatever gender, locality – metropolitan cities or rural country towns, we are here to provide support when you are ready. 

Let’s go back to the beginning, should people under 40 stop drinking alcohol? Perhaps a better way to reframe the question is: ‘Am I in control over my relationship with alcohol?’ It is the question we ought to consider from time to time, no matter which age bracket we belong to. 

Related article you might be interested to read: 

Curbing binge drinking when you’re over 40

When we think about binge drinking, often we imagine teenagers or young adults downing pints of beer or spirits. One thing that might surprise you is that, statistically, some groups of older adults are alongside their younger counterparts in being classified as ‘binge drinkers’.

Congratulation for those who completed the dry month. By now, you might have noticed some changes to your body after a month off booze. Health is certainly one benefit most people would notice. On the financial side, you might also have saved a few bucks from giving up alcohol for a month, which is always welcome especially during tough times!  

But there are other aspects that are worth noting and celebrating too. Mostly internal and maybe not so obvious, such as: 

  • Character building – for giving it a go, having self-control and being persistent;
  • Allowing more focus on different parts of your life – like relationships, work and family; and lastly, 
  • For taking back your Sunday mornings – or any mornings throughout the week without a hangover!

 So, keep at it! We encourage you to continue on beyond a month off. 

In the past we have written some tips to help keep you going after a dry month. You can find those resources below: 

For something different, this year we want to challenge you to use the month off experience to take part in building a better drinking culture. Now that you know and have experienced the benefits of taking a break from alcohol, you might be in a good position to share your insights with others. So, why not use your insights to make a difference to better our drinking culture?  

Below are some suggestions on how you can do that: 

One of the top challenges we often face when quitting alcohol is the question ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’ While we don’t owe anyone an explanation for reasons to not drink – using this as an opportunity to open a conversation can be a great way to help better our drinking culture.  

Use your answer to challenge their thinking and ask them what they think about it. A word of advice, be mindful of questions that might shame or seemingly be on the defensive side. Instead, use compassion and empathy when challenging people’s thinking around alcohol, as they might not be at the same stage of change as we are. (If you want to find out more about the Stage of Change, read our past blog here) 

Here are some ideas on how to share your recent experience and start a conversation: 

‘I quit drinking last month and started to notice some improvements in my health as well in other aspects of my life, such as [insert your own experience here]. So, I decided to keep going.’

‘It’s better for my mental health to drink less (or not drink). But I’m actually interested to hear your thoughts on the recent sober-curious movement. Have you heard about it or ever thought about it?’ 

‘I finally asked myself the question ‘why am I drinking?’. As what I found was that there were not many reasons that benefitted me in the long run. So, I’ve decided not to drink for now.’

Keep in mind, you might get a defensive or dead-end conversation. The aim is not to expect a positive response, but more to create awareness of a different thinking and a change in behaviour around alcohol. 

In a subtle way, without words you are setting an example to people around you through your decision. You might like to demonstrate to your colleagues that you can cope without alcohol when things get tough or stressful, to your children or someone younger that you can enjoy winding down without wine; and to your friends that you don’t need alcohol to have fun or to be fun. This is a way to start normalising not drinking. Your simple action now can impact future generations to come. 

Are you a part of a social group? Or in a position at work to help create a better drinking culture? This may be an opportunity (or dare we say, a higher calling) to raise awareness about excessive drinking. If you are a part of an organising group for a work function, try applying limits to the availability of alcohol as well as providing some alternative drinks. If you and your group are celebrating someone’s achievements, instead of a bottle of bubbly as a gift and having drinks at the pub to mark the occasion, use other gifts and choose other places to meet that involve little or no alcohol.  

In the past, a few of our HSM community members have reached out to us for resources to share in the workplace. If you think this can help, we would love to hear from you. Or better still, if you have an idea on how we can help raise awareness of these important messages, please don’t hesitate to contact us! 

One practical way to help build a better drinking culture is to raise money for causes around which you care about. Whether organising a running group for an event like City to Surf, hosting a bake sale or a sausage sizzle at your local Bunnings*, raising money is a great way to create awareness. If you want to support the work of HSM, or have some ideas to support us, our fundraising team would love to hear from you! 

* For those who lives outside Australia and New Zealand, Bunnings is a DIY version of IKEA. Or the equivalent of Home Depot in America. 

Finally, write a story about your own relationship with alcohol. At Hello Sunday Morning we believe that sharing stories can help other people who are on the same journey. There might be others who are going through the same challenges. By reading how you are going can be empowering and motivating for others to keep going. Whether writing a personal story on the HSM platform, sharing a short post on your IG, or telling your personal experience in a private conversation, it can be a testament and a way to help normalise sobriety. Your direct contribution to cultivating a better drinking culture! 

Being available when others reach out

‘I’m a rugby league and union
player and copped a lot of sh*t at the start due to
our huge drinking culture but I kept at it and didn’t budge and now
some others message me privately
asking for advice.
[HSM] helped that happen.’

– Paul

As mentioned earlier – it is of value to use compassion and empathy when having conversations about drinking. Our attitude around people who drink alcohol makes all the difference. At Hello Sunday Morning, we are big on offering non-judgemental support and this is something we encourage others to foster too. The best way to do this is by continuing to practise your own beliefs around alcohol and being ready to listen. Keep at it, and perhaps, people will start noticing and might even go to you for advice. Just like our friend Paul! (Read his story along with others here) 

Being a support to others can be quite daunting, so make sure you have some way to regulate your emotions and allow time to recover spent energy. When we look after ourselves well, we have a better chance of looking after others. 

In perspective

It can be intimidating to compare our simple effort and the extensive complexity of Australia’s drinking culture (or wherever you are living). At times our effort might seem like a drop in the ocean, but our actions and words might make a difference to someone without our knowledge.  

Here at Hello Sunday Morning, we can see a shift in the drinking culture over the past 12 years. If we look back 5 years ago, non-alcoholic drinks were almost non-existent, nowadays most bars and venues serve non-alcoholic alternatives. Much is still needed to be done, but there is certainly a better hope for our future.  

Would you join us? 

Understanding what role alcohol plays with our self-confidence

Whether you are a shy or confident person, an introvert or extravert, holding a glass of wine or a cold stubby can make social interaction somewhat less rigid. So, how can we be confident without alcohol? 

Alcohol can seemingly boost our confidence, especially in social settings. It releases dopamine in our brain – a chemical that is triggered from eating our favourite foods, earning money or completing tasks. The surge of this neurotransmitter can make us feel powerful and confident. That’s why alcohol is often referred to as ‘liquid courage’. 

The problem with relying on alcohol as a source of courage is that it suppresses our senses and ability to gauge risk or social cues. In other words, we tend to do things without thinking through consequences. We all know the dread of going through our phone the next morning after a big night! Over time, this false courage will eventually have the adverse effect on our confidence. 

There are ways to build confidence and courage without alcohol. We’ve put together some helpful tips to help cultivate it – ultimately, it all comes down to mindset. We hope these tips will not only help you to overcome the angst that comes with most social circumstances; but also, allow you to see yourself in a positive way that can serve you well in a long run. Especially when you are trying to quit or reduce alcohol. 

Chemical happiness and the role it plays in our relationships with alcohol

Dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin production all have a part to play in our relationship with alcohol.

 

Five tips on how to be confident without alcohol:

1. Make peace with who you are – how you think and feel about yourself matters

The core belief of using alcohol to be confident is often a false understanding that you are not enough. Which is why the first tip on our list is: to make peace with who you are – in other words, self-acceptance. For some of us, it might take extra courage to socialise. We use alcohol to bring out our ‘fun’ self. But behind the person we are hiding is an individual that is unique in the entire universe. Whose opinion, thoughts and feelings matters.  

Accepting ourselves is, of course, easier said than done. It requires some on-going reflection. Over time, with persistence and intentional effort, you will grow to learn and accept who you are. Spend some time for yourself, to take stock of who you are as a person. What are your strengths, positive traits, and your achievements? What do people who matter most to you say about you? Keep these in mind and refer to them when you feel like you need a bit of a pep talk. 

2. Mindfulness – being aware of self-critics and practise self-compassion

Mindfulness meditation can give insight into what is going on in our mind. So, give time to be still and to observe perspective. You might find that there has been on-going negative self-talk and that overtime you have come to believe it. Take note of this and practise self-compassion. Some people might find it helpful to write the negative thoughts or criticisms on a piece of paper and then replace them with a kind response to each. If you find it difficult to practise self-compassion, just imagine responding kindly to the person you love (child, close friends, or spouse). If you would not speak harshly to them, why should you be critical to yourself? 

A regular practise of mindfulness might be a good way to help build this kind of awareness. Some mindfulness apps such as Calm and Insight Timer are affordable and suitable to use for beginners. 

3. Body language

The same way we express our love, anger or fear; our body language can contribute to the way we carry ourselves. Amy Cuddy, on her TedTalk discusses how body language can change not only other’s perception of us, but also our own belief of who we are. At the end of the day, the person that needs convincing the most is ourselves. It might take a few years of trial and error to fully address self-doubts. Though with a little awareness of the way we position our body along with the practise of mindfulness, we could nurture our inner self to be confident without the negative effect of alcohol. 

4. Fear of rejections? Let’s address the uncomfortable feelings

Although there might be a lot of reasons why people use alcohol to help socialise, the fear of rejection can contribute to our reliance on alcohol. ‘Rejection’ (for the lack of a better word) is complex, and it is not always related to who we are as a person, other factors could also contribute to it. As it is part of life to be turned down at times, knowing what to do about it might help us to better prepare and have more courage to make the move. Because what might be worse, is to use alcohol to aid the feeling of rejection. Alcohol helps us avoid uncomfortable feelings. Just like the saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine,’ – over time, those feelings we are avoiding could bottle-up and cause more disruptions from within if not addressed.   

At the end of the day, perhaps this fear of rejection might relate to our own acceptance of who we are. When we are more comfortable with ourselves, we tend to be better at handling rejection.   

(You might find this four pathways about rejection or short video from Seth Godin helpful). 

5. Be open-minded and take chances

Finally, when all is said and done, the best way to cultivate courage and confidence is to go ahead and take chances. Whether asking someone on a date or starting a conversation with a person you are fond of, taking that first step might just be the thing you need to practice self-confidence. Of course, there is a possibility that we might be turned down, but there is also a chance that we might do better than we give ourselves credit for. Either way, learning from mistakes is a powerful way to grow. 

In summary

Being confident is not about changing who we are as a person, it is more about making peace and loving ourselves. Although it is not an overnight change and there is no quick fix to be daring, a slow pace change often is a deeper and lasting change. Overtime, we can dispel our own self-doubt and be confident without alcohol the liquid courage. 

What are triggers? How long do they last? Can they be avoided? How do they differ to urges? 

In this article, we will be looking deeper into what triggers are, types of triggers and tips on how to manage them. 

Triggers and urges

In the context of alcohol dependency, a trigger is something that sparks our urges to drink. Triggers can be unique for each person. What we see, feel, hear, touch or smell can release signals to our brain about certain memories or experiences that are related to alcohol. Trigger situations can be very obvious, like walking past a pub, seeing a beer advertisement, or catching the smell of alcohol and so on. However, some triggers are more obscure, such as dealing with subtle daily stresses, or seeing a picture that reminded you of a time or a holiday where alcohol was used to celebrate or commiserate. Even a sober period can be a trigger to drink again – we have heard how people easily slip back into old drinking habits after celebrating an AF (alcohol-free) milestone. Therefore, understanding triggers is an ongoing process in the commitment to having a healthy relationship with alcohol. 

In short, triggers influence the urge to drink. They go hand-in-hand. The length of an urge can lasts from 20-30 minutes depending on how long you are in a particular situation.  

Although some triggers can be avoided for a short time, there are situations that make it much more difficult to control giving in. The good news is, there are ways that can help with effectively managing those urges. 

Before we get into some suggestions on managing urges, let us understand more on types of triggers.  

Types of triggers

According to HSM’s clinical team, most triggers fall into one of four categories: these are Pattern, Social, Emotional and Withdrawal.

PatternPlaces or things that usually brings out an urge to drink. For example, a particular time of the day or night, getting home after work, events like birthdays or Christmas.  

SocialPeople you associate with drinking. If you look back on your own experience, you might recall certain relationships that usually revolved around alcohol. These could include your friendship group, a family member or even your own partner. 

Emotional  – Feelings that have been associated with alcohol. This does not necessarily mean numbing negative feelings, but also celebrating feelings that arise with joyReflect back on how you have felt in the past before pouring a glass of wine, were you feeling anxious, bored and stressed or being light-hearted and happy? 

WithdrawalThe last category is related to our body’s response when a person who is physically dependent on alcohol stops drinking. Some signs include agitation, anxiety, restlessness and shakiness.

Internal and external triggers 

Another way of looking at triggers is to recognise what is happening within you (internal) and what is happening outside of you (external) – see the below chart for examples on what these might look like. 

Managing triggers and urges to drink

Although we cannot avoid what triggers us to drink, we can learn to manage our urges when something prompts us to pick up the bottle. Learning to respond to what triggers us to drink is an exercise to unwire our brain and its pathway to seeking an instant ‘reward’ through alcohol use. 

Below are some tips on how to manage urges when a trigger occurrs: 

Pause 

As is with every new and positive change, awareness is a good place to start when wanting to change or replace old habits. Our drinking pattern might be wired deeply within our brain, but it is possible to create new pathways for our thoughts and behaviour around drinking. When you become aware of the situations that tend to trigger you into wanting to drink, practise a simple breathing exercise to help break those persistent unhelpful thoughts. So, the next time, when you feel triggered, simply pause, close your eyes, and take a few slow breaths. 

 

Surfing the urge 

Surfing the urge is a mindfulness practice of accepting the discomfort and attempting to ride the wave without giving in to the urge. It is widely used to help people with substance dependency. When the urge to drink arises, imagine this as waves that you are trying to ride. Instead of reacting to it, watch it swell and fall. Do this by observing what your body and mind are telling you.  

This practice will help retrain your brain not to react impulsively to your urges to drink. Overtime, those urges will not have control over your life. 

 

The 3-D technique 

Another technique to manage urges is the three steps of Ds; Delay, Distract and Decide. Firstly, delay is a way to postpone your respond to urges for up to 15 minutes at a time. It is a way to feel the momentary discomfort of sitting with your urges. Secondly, distract yourself from the thought and the urges. Try getting outdoors and catching some fresh air, call a friend, or engage in a physical activity. Thirdly, decide whether you want to have a drink, and weigh up the pros and cons. 

 

Replacement behaviours 

A replacement behaviour is one that replaces your usual habit. In the case of a drinking habit, using a replacement behaviour is the act of doing something else to stop your own personal pattern of drinking. Read our 10 replacement behaviours ideas article here. 

Alcohol in TV shows and movies:
is it ever relevant?

The struggle to find a show or movie that doesn’t contain alcohol is quite universal
and reflects why alcohol has become central to socialising, glamour, excess and wealth.

Slipped up?

Like every attempt to create a new habit, setbacks are bound to happened. Slip ups or relapses can be overwhelming, so a good mindset needs to be established first. People often feel shame and regret after a relapse. Knowing that it is quite normal to have slipped up and being kind to ourselves is vital in moving beyond the setback. 

Shame can often get the way of us talking with someone about our setbacks, and although it is difficult, having a trusted friend to debrief about what happened can be helpful to reframe ‘failures’ in a bigger picture. Read more about how to deal with relapse here. 

In summary

Understanding what triggers a person to drink is an ongoing lesson. So, you might find it helpful to keep a record for your trigger and lessons learnt along the way. Although we cannot always avoid things that triggers us to drink alcohol, we can learn to manage the urges to drink.  

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