How to stop drinking (or drink less) to feel your best
How to stop drinking? Know life has more sparkle than you can find inside a bottle when you do. Find the motivation and tips to cut your alcohol intake.
Whether you want to join club soda for the long game, limit home drinking for social only, or have a goal of being a one drink wonder, whatever your relationship with alcohol, welcome.
Instead of staring off a sheer cliff of complete abstinence, which is terrifying enough to almost make you drink, I’m here to share some tried, tested and recommended tips to help you drink less or even quit alcohol.
Maybe your hangovers have started to eclipse the enjoyment of drinking, or perhaps like me, you experimented with giving up alcohol for a period and liked the feeling. I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in more than 14 months.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about drinking less, or not at all….
Get out of your head
As someone who has lived with social anxiety for decades, it’s autopilot to think if you turn down a drink at a social occasion, people will judge you. They might, but does it matter? Truly it says more about their relationship with alcohol than yours.
Consider why you drink alcohol
Is it a deep love of wine? Or is it fear of missing alcohol?
For me, alcohol was my wingwoman for decades, a handy social lubricant. But actually when I recorded my drinking, I’d started taking the edge of the work week, or parenting with a glass of red wine. We’re not talking big boozing, but enough that when I took a break when pregnant – I noticed a huge difference – mainly to my mood.
My anxiety in particular, evaporated.
We all know the problem with drinking too much alcohol
We’re all familiar with the short term effects of alcohol – and the accompanying hangxiety or existential dread. But hangovers aside, when I experimented with a break from alcohol, I found it was costing me more than the price of a drink.
It numbed me, dulled my creativity, suppressed my ambition, and in the past when I suffered from binge eating, had led to food regrets.
But, what is too much alcohol?
You don’t need to be asking yourself, ‘am I an alcoholic’. Excessive alcohol, technically means anything above Australian alcohol guidelines, which say healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
So could you start to experiment with when you don’t drink?
What happens if instead of auto-reaching for a RSL pour of wine, you don’t? What happens if instead of “just one drink” you have none? What happens if when it hits Friday night at home, you crack open a can of mango passion sparkling water on the rocks?
You don’t need to cut out drinks completely, but drink less
As a former binge eater, I know too well, the thing about cutting out anything is, you feel punished and restricted. Rather than thinking of cutting down your drinking as an exercise in self-denial, try to think of it as a positive shift.
Rather than all-or-nothing thinking, I’m simply taking a break from alcohol until I no longer enjoy that. It boils down to being mindful.
Because the benefits of reducing alcohol are pretty epic
In case you need more motivation to stop drinking, what happens when you quit alcohol are some serious rewards.
- You experience better mental health and mood. Bye hangxiety. Read more about the relationship between anxiety and alcohol here.
- You experience better physical health. I won’t assault you with the volume of studies showing alcohol’s ill effects on our bodies, but will share that just two glasses of wine a day is linked to a up to a 50 percent increased risk of breast cancer and aside from tobacco, the World Health Organisation reports alcohol is the deadliest drug on the planet, killing more people globally than all other drugs combined.
- You enjoy better sleep. Research has shown when your body breaks down the alcohol during the night, it disrupts the quality of your sleep.
- You unlock more time to do the things you love. No more mornings wasted, no more evening dread. Bonus: extra productivity.
- You don’t burn a hole in your wallet. Two words: Cozzy livs. Wine costs more than water. Plus, cheap drinks aren’t that cheap when you factor in an Uber and pizza delivery.
- You have the opportunity to strengthen your family life and be more present. See ya brain fog.
- You role model a healthy relationship with alcohol to those around you. Plus, it’s nice to keep your dignity, because we’ve all said those words: ‘I’m never drinking again’.
8 tips to help you drink less alcohol
1. Record your drinks for a fortnight
Know when you drink and why, as well as how much. I recommend this interactive Standard drink tool which is both fun and eye opening for what counts as a drink. Then sidestep those alcohol triggers.
2. Become a NoLo home bartender
Save enjoying a drink to when you’re out instead. We’ve come a long way since sad soda water and lime. Lots of low and no alcohol products now offer those chink and fizz cues.
3. Reframe what gets wasted
Don’t finish your drink to ‘not waste it’, think about what gets wasted the next day as a result.
4. Find other ways to unwind
It might feel awkward at first, but how else can you signal a switch off. Is it a chill playlist? Is it a mocktail ritual? Is it locking phones away? Experiment with your alcohol triggers and create new rituals.
5. Practice saying no
Realising the world won’t stop when you turn down a Martini, gives you the confidence to continue. Milestones like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can be celebrated without alcohol.
6. Choose your decoy drink
When you’re social drinking, it’s often easier to have a drink in your hand that could be alcoholic, than have to bother explaining why you’re not drinking. For me, I found this the best way to stop drinking alcohol.
7. Become the ultimate alternator
Drinking less is as simple as alternating drinks – for one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic. There’s only so much liquid one human can consume.
8. Rehearse your reason
If you’re not drinking at all, or even just drinking less, have your one liner planned because you will get asked why. Whether it’s “I’m up early in the morning”, “I’m taking a break” or something more imaginative it helps to have an answer.
How to stop drinking when your partner drinks
There’s a reason for the phrase: drinking buddies. Being pregnant meant I went cold turkey drinking alcohol.
To preempt any potential conflicts or weird feelings my husband and I had a frank conversation about expectations of each other. We continued to share the ritual of a drink – mine was always non-alcoholic, while his alternated.
The consistent thing? No shot of judgment either way.
Dealing with setbacks
I’ll let you in on a secret about deciding to leave alcohol behind – there will be stops and starts.
Being booze-free in an alcohol-obsessed world isn’t always easy. Social occasions can feel extra hard – lead a horse to water, and why not pour a double? Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Remember, drinking less alcohol is about progress, not perfection.
Feeling unsure about telling people you’re taking a booze break? Got some FOMO or worries about how an alcohol-free lifestyle might impact your relationships?
The legendary Maz Compton and I have you covered with an audio guide that teaches you how to unwind, socialise and be fun – without a drink in your hand. You’ll go from FOMO to JOMO (joy of missing out) in no time!
Click here to jump on our waitlist, and we’ll notify you as soon as we share the guide.