We’re edging closer to the end of October. You’ve almost made it a month of going dry – awesome! You should be very proud of yourself and what you’ve achieved so far, but there’s no avoiding the fact that there’s still a few days left where your will may crack. To help you get over the final hurdle, here’s my last 4 tips for keeping dry in October.
If you missed the first three tips, you can check them out here.
4. Ask for Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Pubs & Restaurants
Gone are the days when the only alternative to beer or wine was tap water or a sugar/ sweeter filled soft drink. A huge number of pubs and restaurants now carry at least one non-alcoholic alternative on their menus. Often these can be the more main stream brands like Becks Blue or Heineken 0.0, but some of the smaller specialist brands like Big Drop Brewing Co. and Nirvana Brewery are also making it onto the menus.
Non alcoholic wines and ciders are starting to appear on menus, although they’re still slightly behind the beers in their distribution into pubs and restaurants. Hopefully, as the number of these drinks increases and their popularity grows, we’ll see more making it behind bars around the country.
With these increasing choices available, next time you walk into a pub you won’t have to groan at the thought of another sugary soft drink. Ask the bar staff what non-alcoholic drinks they have, and you’ll probably be surprised with the variety of drinks on offer.
5. Avoid Temptation
I’ve already discussed how habits can lead you down a familiar, but unwanted path and how changing the reward can help you avoid alcohol. But what if you avoided that path altogether?
In James Clear’s excellent book Atomic Habits he talks about how habit triggers start the craving for a habit’s reward leading to the familiar response. If you’re trying to avoid an alcoholic drink “reward”, you can either change the reward (as already mentioned) or change the cue to avoid the habit loop altogether.
Cues can be linked to a number of different situations, including time, location, emotions people, etc. Try to identify when you’re tempted to drink alcohol most often and from there identify the cue. Here’s a few examples:
- People – do you have drinking buddy or someone you always meet for a “quick glass of wine”?
- Location – the obvious one here is going to the pub
- Event – going for a pre/post-match beer
- Emotions – get home from a stressful day at work
Once you’ve identified the cue, you can begin to change it or remove it altogether, breaking the habit loop and its “reward” of alcohol. However, somethings will be easier to change than others so it’s important to recognise the cues and work to consciously break the habit. Using the above examples again:
- People – make an excuse to not meet your drinking buddy or invite along friends that don’t drink.
- Location – suggest meeting for a coffee not going to the pub
- Event – arrange to meet just before kick-off or make plans straight after the match
- Emotions – take the beer/wine out of the fridge, put a post-it note on the glasses, layout your gym kit ready or any other activity to stop you reaching for a drink
You can always combine these (e.g. meet your drinking buddy for a run) to help give up alcohol. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different ways of avoiding your old cues and find what works best for you.
6. Reward Yourself
Just focusing on the “giving up” part of dry drinking can slowly build up a resentment as the emphasis is on what you’re deprived of all the time. Instead, change your motivation into working towards something you want by rewarding your dry drinking. This becomes even more powerful when you combine it with the Goal Setting (from above). Now you’ve got a possible double victory on your hands.
How you choose to reward yourself is entirely up to you. Find something that will motivate you sufficiently so that you’re willing to put the effort in to achieve it. Whether it’s something tangible or an experience is up to you, but practice with different ideas and see what works best.
7. Enjoy the Feeling!
Giving up Alcohol has a number of health benefits that will leave you feeling great, but my favourite of them all are the clear mornings after the big nights before. Long gone are the groggy starts and never-ending hangovers that cast a long shadow over the rest of the day. A night of alcohol affected sleep is replaced with bright morning with a sense of energy and focus so you can live today to the full.
Your days are longer when you don’t have hangovers (and their recovery time) eating into them. Mornings at the weekend become something to be celebrated, not hidden from under your duvet (unless you want to). It’s now your choice not a necessity. You could even go the extreme in the opposite direction and start getting up early at the weekend!
The temptation to drink has never been higher with pressures arriving from all angles. There’s always a reason to drink (celebrate, relieve stress, help sleep, recover from a hangover) the list really is endless. Even worse, these pressures come at you from all different directions, be it friends, family, TV & film or in advertising, there really is no hiding from alcohol in the modern world.
Whether you’ve managed to stay sober or had the odd slip, you should be proud of your achievement in getting this far and cutting down your drinking. You took a brave step in volunteering to take part in the challenge and in the process helped raise over a million pounds for charity.
You really are a superhero!