It’s the start of a bright, shiny new month – the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and get back on track with your sober goals.
I know that quitting ‘forever’ is really intimidating. (If there was one thing sure to make me think ‘I can’t do this’ it was the idea of never drinking again.) I think focusing on shorter, more achievable goals is a much better idea. Before you know it, a month becomes 6 weeks, then 100 days and boom – suddenly you’ve changed a habit and acquired a happy, hangover-free lifestyle.
If you want to feel a whole lot better by the start of September, here are 5 tips to help you have an amazing, alcohol-free August!
1 – Upgrade your habits
If you remove alcohol from your daily routine and don’t replace it with anything, you will feel the gap. Stopping drinking isn’t just about quitting booze – it’s also about finding new, healthy coping mechanisms. Spend some time thinking about what your triggers are; the times, places and emotions that make you most want to drink. Then focus on what it is that’s really driving that habit. What are you looking for in booze? Is it relaxation, escapism or a signal that the working day is over? Start to think about what you can do to get the same outcome, without alcohol. Be positive here: when you put your mind to it, the possibilities are endless.
2 – Set yourself a physical challenge
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: one challenge is quite enough, thanks! But hear me out. A physical target has lots of benefits; it will help you with focus, confidence and give you something to do with your free time. Regular exercise releases happy chemicals into your brain and this is a lovely time of year to get outside. You don’t need to run a marathon or climb Everest – trying to do 10,000 steps a day or a couch to 5k running programme is quite enough.
3 – Plan ahead
In early sobriety, winging it or ‘seeing how it goes’ rarely works. I know planning doesn’t sound very sexy, but when we’re boy scouts about this and come prepared, it sets us up for success. For you, planning ahead might mean deciding in advance what you’re going to do on Friday evening (if that’s a tricky night for you) and making a plan for how you’ll handle any cravings. It might mean working out what your soft drink options are in the pub, deciding what you’ll say to friends or whether you should go out in the first place. Planning also gives you the opportunity to add in lots of treats and fun stuff too. You’re doing something really amazing right now so look after yourself.
4 – Educate yourself
Alcohol is the only drug on the planet that you have to justify not taking. So it’s really easy to forget that we shouldn’t need to consume a mind-altering drug on a daily basis. If you’re relying on booze just to cope with day-to-day life, it’s a sign that something may be wrong. In the long term, you need to think about the bigger picture – what can you do to create a life that’s so good, you don’t need to drink through it? A good place to start is by opening your mind to new ideas. Use your new-found spare time to explore things like mindfulness, self help books, motivational podcasts and articles on addiction. If you could spare 20 minutes a day for reading (or listening) who knows what you might have discovered by the end of the month.
5 – Start before you’re ready
There is never a perfect time to stop drinking. There will always be something: a wedding, a holiday, a stressful project at work, your inlaws visiting, etc etc. So try and resist the temptation to ‘wait until next week’! When you keep putting something off, it starts to feel more and more impossible. But when you start taking action it gives you an amazing sense of achievement and a confidence boost. You’ll be able to look back and think ‘well, if I can get through that, I can do just about anything’.