I came across a video today about establishing new habits that really made me think and so I have adapted the advice to help you with those habits you have that often trigger you to drink.
How you have your environment designed dictates much of your behaviour. If your wine glasses are displayed in a glass cabinet and your bottles of wine are in that ‘handy’ built in kitchen rack then you are more likely to be triggered to drink because your mind and body will just automatically move in their direction. If you come home from a stressful day at work, kick your shoes off and automatically walk into the kitchen, your body already knows the movements required to get a glass of wine. Do you have clocks displayed in prominent places so that you always know when it’s ‘wine o’clock’? Have you established an evening routine with the family that is centred around you being able to relax with a glass of wine? Do you reach for wine without checking in to find out what you really need in that moment?
Take a few minutes to think about your environment and what is going on in your home that enables your drinking.
- Put your wine glasses in a cupboard where you can’t see them.
- Move the wine rack out of the kitchen and into the garage.
- Store your wine on the highest shelf in the house that requires you to go upstairs with the stepladders to get at it.
- Invest in some gorgeous tumblers and display those in your glass cabinet.
- Buy storage boxes that fit into your fitted wine rack and use it for healthy snacks, dog leads etc, IKEA is great for this.
- Get rid of your clocks and live out of time for a while.
- Before you drink, check in to see if you are hungry. Place healthy snacks like fruit and nuts somewhere visible, preferably in the same spot you usually pour a drink.
- Drinking more water is always a good idea. Use pretty glass jugs filled with water and station them around your house. I have a bottle that sits on my desk and a jug that lives on my kitchen table. I now have a routine where I fill them up first thing in the morning and if I finish them by the end of the day I have had 2 litres. It always makes me feel great.
Giving up can feel like a massive undertaking and can also feel overwhelming when you know it’s going to be a while before you have mastered the art of being sober. Do you get demotivated quickly because you keep failing after a couple of days or weeks of sobriety? Often the problem is that your expectations are very high and you make them almost impossible to reach (check in with yourself in case this is self-sabotage).
Take a few moments to think about what overwhelms you when you think about giving up.
- Decide that you’re not going to drink for the next 5 minutes. Don’t give yourself any other expectations beyond that. If you manage 5 minutes ask yourself if you can last another 5 minutes. Doing this every day builds your resilience muscles and eventually you will be able to stay sober longer and longer.
- Decide on your new rewards and commit to doing them for 2 minutes. If getting fitter is part of your goals then put your walking shoes on and just walk around the block.
- Have one glass of water before you have alcohol and then decide if you still want one.
- Have your evening meal before you drink. Sometimes you’re just hungry and in coaching sessions a lot of women have told me that once they have had dinner they are less interested in drinking.
Change Your Entry Points
Often so much of what we do is automatic behaviour that you can have a drink in your hand and wonder how that happened. Are you aware of your drinking entry point? Is it that moment when you take your shoes off as you come home from work? Is it that moment when you close the door on the kids bedroom? Is it the second you close the door on the dishwasher?
Take a few moments to think about your usual movements leading up to drinking.
- Change your pre-drinking routine just one night a week to start with. Do something fun that everyone looks forward to. Play board games with the kids, go for a walk, call a friend. Disrupting your routine will enable you to ride that temporary habit trigger.
- Place your trainers where you take your shoes off and put them on, even if you don’t leave the house. Eventually you will.
- Arrange a call with a friend at the time the kids go to bed.
- Put a healthy reward on top of the dishwasher and have that instead.
- Set a 2 minute alarm where you just sit and do nothing. Promise yourself that for 2 minutes you will just be. Watch the thoughts that rise up.
Many of our habits are reinforced by the communities we live in. At the moment I feel like a bad neighbour because my front garden is overgrown with weeds and my neighbours is pristine. I always tell myself I don’t have time but actually I think I spend more time thinking about what a bad neighbour I am and justifying not doing it! What we wear, how we behave are dictated by the tribes we belong to. If you think about the clothes people wear in their particular tribes you see it everywhere – think hippies, punks etc. We model our behaviour on those around us so your ‘tribe’ is predominantly negative and you spend time with lots of people who drink then it’s going to be difficult to avoid drinking. However, when you are in a community that models the behaviour you want to adopt you’re more likely to adopt the desired behaviour because you will feel that you fit in.
Take a few moments to think about who your tribe is, where you spend most of your time, how you reach out for help.
- Find an accountability partner. Check out this post in the group to help you find yours.
- Reach out. I will always be there for you and so will your fellow Sobersistas.
- Stop thinking that the group is only there for success stories – it’s not true and those posts aren’t there to intimidate you and make you feel like a failure. They are what you will be writing in a very short space of time.
- Log in now and ask for support – it’s what you’re paying for after all.
Use Alternative Rewards
Often the immediate reward for drinking is numbness and/or relaxation. When you know staying sober is going to be a long term project it can feel deflating to have to look too far into the future. If you’ve tried and failed before you know that in the short term that the detox is going to be uncomfortable and your routines will be disrupted and you will have WAY too much time on your hands to think every negative thought you’ve ever had about yourself. Thinking about the benefits of sobriety when you know they are way off into the future is just annoying. What you can do is pull the long term benefits to the present moment by giving yourself an immediate reward.
Take a few moments to think about what you believe around how long it will take to really feel the benefits of sobriety.
- Work out how much money you spend on alcohol in a month. Let’s say it’s £5 a day, that’s £150 a month. Go to the bank and get £150 in £5 notes and pop them in a glass jar near your usual drink making spot. Every day you don’t drink take one five pound note and put it in a separate jar that is for a reward of your choice like a full body massage. Promise yourself that you will only use this money to buy your alcohol.
- Use the same idea but with coloured marbles. Fill a jar with two different coloured marbles and give drinking and not drinking their own colour. Take out the appropriate coloured marble each day.
- Decide what would feel like a reward for you instead of drinking and do that instead.
- Every day you don’t drink, post in the group. Claim each day as a massive success.
Much of our drinking comes from the habits we have established over time and repetition. This means that your new sobriety habit can be established in the same way.
Much love always, Jules xx