How to stay motivated while cutting down on alcohol
The key to keeping motivated when you’re cutting back on drinking is to learn the skills you need to help you stick to your goals and make changes to your lifestyle.
Whatever your goals, staying motivated isn’t just about changing your mindset: there are practical things you can do to help yourself stay on track.
When it comes to cutting back on alcohol, there are three stages to keep in mind. First, making the decision to cut down. Then planning how you will do it so that you’re ready and set up to make the change. Next, considering ways to stay on track and keep motivated.
If you’re ready to cut back, here are some practical tips that will help you stay on track and motivated.
Deciding to cut back on drinking might sound like a goal, but to ensure success, that goal needs to be specific and realistic. Work out how much you want to cut back by, then review your progress and measure your success. For example, set yourself a goal to stick within the low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week.
Think about the motivation behind your goal. Write it down and don’t lose sight of it. You are more likely to stick to your goal if you have a clear reason for achieving it. For example, you might want to cut back on your drinking in order to have more energy, or because you want better quality sleep, or perhaps you want to be healthier or lose weight
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Make sure you consider all the implications of your decision to cut back on drinking. This can help you identify what might stop you succeeding. You might think you will miss something but looking at things a bit differently could help you avoid associating this with a negative feeling.
For example, if you tend to drink too much with a certain group of friends, instead of missing out on seeing them, plan to do something different with them that doesn’t involve drinking. Or instead of saying no to meeting colleagues after work, suggest having something to eat first and set yourself a one or two drink limit.
If you have a goal to reduce your drinking, say it out loud to friends or family, or write it down. Making a commitment out loud or on paper means you’re much more likely to stick to your goals. Telling your friends and family can also help you feel more supported as you make changes, and as you make progress.
People, places, times can all be triggers for drinking alcohol. Think about what your own personal triggers to drink alcohol are and how you can change your behaviour to fit your lifestyle.
To succeed in reducing your drinking you also need to break associations. For example, if you tend to reach for a drink when you come home from work, plan an alternative activity to try and break this link. You could go for a walk or read your favourite book instead.
Keep a note of how you feel as you cut back to help motivate you. You might have more energy, be sleeping better or feel more productive. Use our app to add up the calories you are not consuming and the money you would have spent on alcohol. Concentrating on what you’ve gained is far more motivating than focusing on what you’ve given up.
It is important to encourage yourself along the way. Even if your progress has been small, give yourself some praise. Think about how you can reward yourself for the progress you’ve made. For example, if you’ve saved money, could you treat yourself to something that you will enjoy, like a takeaway or some new clothes? The best rewards are personal to you and immediate.
If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you cut back on alcohol, it could be a sign that you are alcohol dependent. Be aware that if you are dependent on alcohol it can be dangerous to stop completely without professional support. Talk to your doctor or a health professional straightaway if you experience any unpleasant effects from cutting down your drinking.
Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline. Call 0300 123 1110. Alternatively, Drinkchat is a free online service for anyone who is looking for information or advice about their own, or someone else’s alcohol use. Trained advisors are on hand to give you confidential advice.
If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol there is a lot of help available. Here you can find useful links and phone numbers to get the support you need.Get Support