Have you gone from feeling like you want a drink to feeling like you need a drink every night after work? It could be time to cut back on your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether. Even if you’re not an alcoholic, regular drinking throughout the week can affect everything from your sleep to your mood to your mental health. If drinking has become part of your regular routine, you may be wondering how to quit it. We’re rounded up 10 helpful tips and tricks for how to stop drinking alcohol.
4 Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol
1. Better Sleep
Alcohol can disrupt two of the most important parts of sleep: Slow wave sleep, which physically refreshes us, and REM Sleep, which helps us learn and remember. Regular drinking affects your energy levels and makes you feel tired and sluggish. Giving up alcohol will improve your quality of sleep, making it easier to wake up in the morning and feel more energized throughout the day.
2. Decrease Anxiety and Irritability
Alcohol can interfere with the chemicals in the brain that are important for good mental health. While alcohol may make you feel relaxed in the moment, it’s a depressant and the long term effects of alcohol can lead to anxiety, irritability and depression.
3. Help You Lose Weight
Alcoholic drinks contain lots of empty calories, meaning your body doesn’t get any nutrients from drinking alcohol. It slows down your metabolism, and since our bodies break down alcohol first, it slows down our body’s processing of other fats and sugars we’ve consumed. Cutting out drinking is a great way to cut out calories.
4. Clears and Brightens Your Skin
Giving up alcohol can be beneficial for your skin. Not only will it decrease breakouts, it will also make your skin look brighter and healthier. Alcohol dehydrates you, making your complexion look dull and causing dry patches of skin. The sugar in alcohol also breaks down the collagen in skin and depletes vitamins that slow down cell renewal, making your skin look aged.
How to Stop Drinking Alcohol: 5 Tips
1. Set a Drinking Goal
Figure out how much you’re drinking per week and set a new goal to limit your drinking. If you’re drinking every single day, try only drinking on the weekends, or one day of the weekend. It may be difficult to cut out drinking entirely right away, but setting a short term goal to work towards will be helpful for hitting your long term goal of cutting out drinking altogether.
2. Don’t Try To Do It On Your Own
Having support from your friends and loved ones is important if you want to stop drinking alcohol. Let people know you’re trying to stop so you can talk about it openly and lean on them when you need to. If you feel like you need extra support, you may consider talking to a therapist or joining a support group as well.
3. Keep Alcohol Out of Your House
It’s much easier to stop drinking when there’s no alcohol in your house tempting you to drink. It’s so easy to reach for a bottle of wine or bourbon when it’s sitting right on your cabinet. Out of sight out of mind works wonders.
4. Keep Yourself Busy
A lot of the time people drink alcohol after a long day of work to unwind while they’re watching TV on the couch. Keeping yourself busy with activities or hobbies can make you forget about alcohol altogether. Sign up for an online course, try a dance class, take a walk, or go out to eat. These are all great alternatives to drinking that will keep your mind off alcohol.
5. Know What to Say
If you’re in a social setting where alcohol is involved, people are likely going to ask you why you aren’t drinking. Think about what you’re going to say ahead of time so you don’t end up peer pressured to drink. Practice ways to say no politely, and stay away from people who encourage or pressure you to drink.
5 Ways to Beat Alcohol Cravings
1. Avoid Triggers
Certain things can trigger us to have a drink, such as going out for post-work drinks with colleagues on a Friday night. If there are certain parts of your routine that urge you to drink, try stepping away from them and filling your time with other plans or spending time with people who don’t enjoy drinking or drinking as heavily. Try a new workout class, have a date night with your partner, or have a movie night with friends.
2. Distract Yourself
When you get the urge to drink, distract yourself with an activity that’s more beneficial to you. Take a walk, call a friend, read a book, or turn on your favourite podcast. Substituting your urge with another activity will help you beat your cravings.
Meditation can be learned and practiced to reduce urges and cravings. It will also help you become more mindful and develop a greater sense of calmness and well-being. Meditation can help you tolerate uncomfortable sensations or feelings, teaching you how to cope with these sensations through breathing and focusing on the present moment.
4. Eat Healthy Fruits and Vegetables
When alcohol metabolizes in your body, it turns into sugar, so if you’re used to drinking a lot of alcohol, your body is used to a lot of sugar. Eating healthy fruits and vegetables can help you balance the sugar levels that your body is used to, reducing your alcohol cravings. They’ll also help your body absorb nutrients that alcohol made it hard to.
5. Find a New Favourite Non-Alcoholic Drink
Replacing your nightly glass of wine with a non-alcoholic drink allows you to still look forward to a little treat without the downfalls of alcohol. You can opt for non-alcoholic beer, wine or mocktails, or replace your alcoholic drink with something like sparkling water or apple cider.
Giving up drinking is no easy feat, but these tips and tricks can help you reduce cravings and stop drinking altogether.