Have you been thinking of ways to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle? As you explore your habits and set goals, your relationship with alcohol may be one to consider.
It’s not uncommon to hear about a “Dry January” or “Sober October” – basically a month free from alcohol.
Regardless of the time of year, taking a break from alcohol can help identify the motivations behind your drinking patterns and reset your mind and body. The intentional elimination of alcohol can encourage the creation of new skills to cope with stress or difficult emotions that alcohol tends to numb. While it can be a challenging commitment to make, there are countless benefits that can come from a month (or more) free from alcohol.
In a recent NPR podcast, a straightforward strategy was presented to begin the process to:
- Start by asking yourself, “ What is my relationship with alcohol?”. Assess quantity, frequency, who you tend to drink around or with, and some of the reasons for drinking.
- Make a plan for how drinking can be replaced by other activities. Explore the many ways you can achieve a sense of pleasure, reward or relief from another source.
- Take note of mental health. Oftentimes, people rely on alcohol to numb uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety or stress. Research has shown that over time the more you drink the less effective alcohol will be in decreasing anxiety. As one’s tolerance for alcohol increases, it takes more if it is to achieve the numbing effect that one is seeking.
- Be prepared for social pressures in environments such as happy hours or events where alcohol will be present and create a plan that will help you to resist peer pressure and stay on track with your goal.
For a more detailed discussion on this strategy, take a listen to NPR’s Podcast “6 Ways to Take a Break From Drinking”. As always, GROW Counseling is here to support you if you are ready to explore your relationship with alcohol or any substance that you feel has kept you from living to your full potential.
Written by: Michelle Rathburn