If the thought “maybe I should be careful with the alcohol” has ever crossed your mind, it is you Not alone. Many American adults have at some point considered reducing the amount of alcohol they drink. But cutting is not always easy. In this post, I break down drinking down into four steps. I hope these steps give you some clarity on how to approach the healthy life you want to live.
Step one: gain awareness
The first step to changing a behavior is becoming aware of the behavior, and a drinking log is one of the most effective tools to help you become more aware of your drinking. You may feel tempted to think, “I know how much I drink,” or feel like you can just keep a log in your head. But trust me, a physical log, either in a notebook or on your smartphone, is where the magic happens. To learn more about the power of keeping a drinking log, read my post, “Drinking Log: A Powerful Tool to Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption.”
A drinking log can sometimes create complicated feelings. Looking honestly at your own drinking can create feelings of fear, shame, or guilt. Don’t let these feelings stop you from starting or keeping up with the protocol. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer to how much you are currently drinking. Your intention to cut is what matters. You are here to change your life, which takes tremendous courage, and that alone says more about you than the amount you drink.
Step Two: Set a limit and understand why
After keeping a drinking log for a while, you will get an accurate picture of your drinking behavior. You know exactly how much and how often you consume alcohol. You might even notice a few patterns. With that information, it’s time to figure out what changes you’d like to make with alcohol and its place in your life. There is no one size fits all when reducing, and it’s up to you to decide what kind of limit you want to set with alcohol.
While deciding your limit when cutting down is important, getting clear about your why is crucial. Setting limits is seldom fun, especially when you’re trying to limit something you enjoy. What reasons justify limiting alcohol consumption? Take out a piece of paper and write down all the reasons that make you want to cut back on alcohol consumption. As with the drinking log, the magic happens when you see the whole list in front of your eyes.
Step Three: Prepare for the ride
With a clear goal and a solid list of reasons, it’s time to come up with some strategies to stay within bounds. If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you know that planning is key to a successful road trip. A seasoned traveler prepares for unexpected weather, knows the stops, and packs extra water and snacks. Cutting down on alcohol is like taking a road trip, and you’re far more likely to have a good time when you have a game plan. Here are some things to plan for on your “weight loss” road trip.
- What can you do to increase your chance of staying within your drinking limit?
- What can you do when you feel tempted to exceed your drinking limit?
- How will you enjoy yourself if you limit your alcohol consumption?
Creating a set of strategies that work best for you takes time and practice. I have a cheat sheet with some tips that others have found helpful in their reduction journey and I’d love to share them with you in one of my future posts. (Visit my website and sign up for the Sober Curiosity newsletter so you don’t miss any Sober Curiosity tips).
Step four: Be persistent
Perseverance is the key to success in any endeavor in life. Many people mistakenly think that once they decide to make a change, they should be able to cut back on their drinking immediately. This view cannot be further from reality. Making change is a process, especially when we’re trying to change behavior that provides immediate gratification and relief, such as B. drinking alcohol. Don’t be discouraged if you encounter setbacks or fail to meet your limit on your path to reducing. Be persistent and keep going. Remember that professional support is available; You don’t have to do this alone.
To find a therapist, please visit Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory.