Alcohol is a whole thing, isn’t it? In Australia, it seems to just be a part of everyday life. Friday night drinks, afternoon beers, girls nights with wine. If you’re trying to escape it, it can seem quite impossible sometimes. I go alcohol-free for at least one or two months every year and it seems to be getting harder and harder to find non-drinkers to hang out with during my dry times.
I certainly don’t have a drinking problem but I feel much better in general without any alcohol at all in my system and I’ve written about my alcohol abstinence several times. I’ve had a few emails from people who have been wanting to have a month without alcohol but they just don’t seem to have a spot in their calendar where that fits. I totally understand this.
There would be some tough nut dieticians out there that would tell you to harden up and just do it but I get that some people enjoy drinking and want to find a way to do it in a more healthy and sustainable way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, so here are a few tricks I use when I’m trying to have an alcohol cleanse but there are just too many events/holidays/weddings to make a month-long cleanse feasible; here’s how to give up alcohol without actually giving it up – perfect for the lead up to Christmas which just feels like one big champagne party.
1. Have a pre-booked rule
If I want to have a break from alcohol but I have two weddings, a weekend away and three friend’s birthdays coming up, it’ll be a rough month to stick to it. I tend to ‘pre-book’ during these months. Which means that if you’re going to cleanse in April, you’re only allowed to drink on days that have been pre-booked before the month starts. That way you can drink at weddings, important birthdays or while on holiday but you’ll cut back on all those casual after work beers and Friday night drinks. Basically, you can’t drink unless you booked it in before the month started.
2. Pre-choose your AFDs
You should aim to have as many Alcohol Free Days as you can manage in a week but at the very least, if you’re trying to cut down on daily drinking, you should have a minimum of 3 AFDs. The trick is to pre-choose them. So for example, if you choose Monday, Tuesday and Thursday just stick to them as your non-negotiable AFDs every week and plan your boozy dinners and catch ups on other days. Easy.
3. Have an unbreakable drink limit
I’m a massive lover of red wine and I choose to very strongly believe in all the hyped-up ‘healthy benefits’ of a glass of red. However, once I’ve had four glasses of red wine the health benefits tend to drop away, along with my ability to use my inside voice. Give yourself a drink limit. A mate of mine once did One Glass October. She could have a glass of wine every day but it could only be one. She did it for a month, was hangover free the whole time and even lost a couple of kgs. She was still able to have her glass of wine with dinner but she still reaped all the benefits of cutting back.
4. Offer to drive
This one is a tried and true classic but it really works. Not only do you save money by not buying drinks but you also save money on an Uber home at the end of the night AND you wake up the next day feeling like flowers. Make it clear how long you want to stay at the party and if people want a lift with you, they need to be ready to go at that stage. It’s pretty rough being sober around a lot of drunk people so try to leave before things get too messy to stop any resentment sneaking in.
5. Spend less time with people who drink
You can still spend time with your wine-loving mates but if you’re really trying to cut down, the best thing to do is to avoid people who are a bad influence on you. I’d love to be able to say I have the willpower to say no to a frosty Pure Blonde on a Friday afternoon in summer but alas I do not. If I’m really trying to not drink, I’ll avoid social occasions where alcohol is the main focus. Instead, I’ll meet friends for brunch, go for hikes or to the movies. Avoiding bars is a good place to start.
6. Only drink on days starting with ‘T’
This one is a little left of centre but hear me out. A mate of mine was wondering why she was able to have a sensible 2 glasses of wine on a weekday without any issues but for some reason when Friday and Saturday rolled around she was mainlining vodka until 2 am in the morning. So she made a rule that she was only allowed to drink on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a full month to break the repetitive cycle of heavy weekend drinking. She also had to work during the week so her ‘T’ drinking days were always kept at a sensible level. Sometimes you just need to break the habit.
7. Don’t keep or drink alcohol in your own home.
Make a rule that you only drink outside of your house. That way you cut down on those weekday glasses of wine with dinner and if you don’t buy alcohol and have it in your house, you won’t be tempted to crack a beer after work or open a bottle of wine to have with dinner on a Tuesday.
What are your drinking habits like? Do you need to cut down?
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