How to spot your triggers
Work out when you typically drink alcohol. Try a strategy for each occasion to stay on track.
Being aware is important because your decision can be automatic. You might pour a glass at the same time each day without thinking about what you’re doing. Not only are you denying your body the drink-free days it needs to recuperate, but when one glass leads to two or three, you could easily be going over the low risk drinking guidelines, of not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week, applicable for both men and women.
“Work out when you drink, or what your triggers are, and break the association,” says Joan Harvey, a Clinical Psychologist based at Newcastle University. “Do something different.”
“So what are your 'triggers?'”
You’ve finished work and it’s been a long, stressful day. All you want to do is relax. This might be when you’re most likely to nip into the off licence for a bottle of wine or drop some beer into the supermarket basket. But starting to drink as soon as you arrive home from work could leave you snoring on the sofa by 9pm, cutting short your well-earned evening.
Stay on track: Think about what other things you can do to relax in the evening. Join the gym, do some yoga or take up a new hobby.
You enjoy cooking good food and eating it. It’s how you relax at the end of a grueling day. But your dinner time isn’t complete without a glass or two of wine to complement your food.
Stay on track: Make sure there’s a jug of water on the table. Having a glass of water alongside a glass of wine will encourage you to space out and enjoy the alcohol.
It’s taken an hour of tantrums, tears and pleas for “just one more story”. Now there’s finally silence from upstairs. Immediately pouring yourself a drink could stop you from making the most of these precious hours – you could be less motivated to do things.
Stay on track: Have something planned for when the kids have gone to bed and you're less likely to spend the rest of the evening with a glass in hand. Watch a film, read your book or chat to your partner. You’ll appreciate these things better having drank less or no alcohol.
So you’ve resolved to not drink for the evening. But then your partner asks if you fancy opening a bottle of wine. Do you have the resolve to resist?
Finish the bottle and you’ll both have drunk a good portion of the UK Chief Medical Officers' low risk drinking guidelines. Doing this regularly could start to affect your relationship in negative ways particularly in the bedroom. Alcohol dulls sensation for men and women, and men can struggle to get an erection.
Stay on track: Spend time making and eating a nice dinner with your partner, talking and, perhaps, more as the night rolls on. If you both decide that you’d like to only have alcohol with your meal, limit it to just one or two medium glasses each.
Want to make sure you’re staying within the alcohol unit guidelines? Download our free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app for iOS or Android phones.