Drinking alcohol can be a typical part of day-to-day life for so many of us. Whether it be at the pub, with friends, or on a Friday night after work. However, there are some who need to cut down on their drinking for various reasons as we all know that drinking alcohol can be harmful if too much is consumed. But the question becomes how much is too much? And what are your reasons for drinking? If you find yourself constantly asking "why am I doing this?" or if it's negatively impacting other areas of your life, like your work or personal relationships then maybe it's time to cut back on how often or how much you're drinking.
Contrary to popular belief perpetuated by the 12 step programmes, research shows us that problem drinkers, who have not progressed to the stage of physical dependence on alcohol can cut back successfully, and I see this every day in my practice. Trust me, there is no great gift that you can give yourself! So, without further delay I will share ten of my tips to get you started on your moderation journey.
10 Tips on how to drink less alcohol without quitting for good
1.Set your limits on how much alcohol you will consume
Setting limits is a good idea when trying to drink less alcohol. Set your limit before you start drinking that way you will be more likely to stick to it, before the effects of alcohol can kick in.
2.Carefully ‘risk assess’ triggering situations where you may drink more
Sometimes it may not be as easy to drink less alcohol because you're in a situation that can make you want to drink more. For example, if someone is trying hard to cut down on how often they consume alcohol but goes out with friends who always end up drinking too much then there's an increased risk of the individual also drinking excessively during these outings. Therefore, it is necessary to follow one of three options (i) avoid such events (ii) Take extra care (iii) Go and stay alcohol free. Experience will show you over time what you are able to manage.
3.Delaying or Leaving early
Delaying your first alcoholic drink can be a simple and effective tool for staying within your limits. This may involve arriving at an event late or leaving early especially if the gathering is getting a bit booze heavy for you to moderate with ease. If you find your resolve slipping, take yourself off for a relaxing night’s sleep and think how good you will feel in the morning.
4.Keep track of how much you drink
Some people find it useful to download an app to their phone or a spread sheet on the computer, whereas others prefer to use a small diary. Here is an app you may find helpful from DrinkAware UK.
Keeping good records of your alcohol use is far better than occasionally thinking about how you have done. Over a longer period, you may also like to record the information on a wall planner or calendar. Psychologists call this technique ‘self- monitoring’ and there are compelling reasons why it will supercharge your moderation journey. Firstly, when you count your drinks, the figures do not lie. You will know for sure that you are making progress in a positive direction. Secondly, monitoring your drinking leads to increased self- knowledge concerning your drinking. You may discover times when you may overdrink that can shed light on perhaps a previously undiscovered trigger. And finally self- monitoring can be very motivating as you can see positive changes over time. If you have a slip, it can be useful to see how far you have come and it helps to put a lapse in perspective.
5.Use Positive self -talk
How we talk to ourselves is important, especially when we are changing our behaviour. We have to become our own best friend and give ourselves a boost particularly when we are navigating the early stages of moderation which can be daunting. All changes can be anxiety inducing but the trick is to push through and keep going as it will get easier over time as new behaviours become established. Having a positive internal dialogue helps you to stay upbeat and confident. “I’m going to have a good time tonight and really look after myself” or “I’m really proud of how far I have come on this moderation journey”. “Everyone has the right to move on in their life and that includes me”.
6.Use smaller glasses
When drinking at home and serving yourself an alcoholic drink, try using smaller glasses rather than larger ones.
7.Eat food when you drink
Having something to eat before or with alcoholic drinks slows down the rate at which alcohol gets into your bloodstream and takes effect on your mind and body. If we drink on an empty stomach the effect can come as a surprise and take us off guard before we can fully appreciate what is happening.
8.Read a moderation book or two
There are many different types of literature written by therapists or people that have taken this journey themselves who can help provide their own strategies and tricks for how to cut down without quitting. See my Best Books for Alcohol Moderation for some of my favourites.
9.Have alcohol free days
This might be a good idea for people who are accustomed to drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis. Ideally you should aim for four days a week off alcohol completely, this way you will look forward to when you allow yourself to drink and see it as a reward for all your hard work abstaining on your days off!
10.Keep Tomorrow in mind
It can be useful when you are planning to consume alcohol to think about tomorrow or ‘playing it forward’. Often, we get stuck in short-term thinking and focussing on ‘the now’ which can often lead to over drinking. As an alternative, think about your responsibilities and goals when the idea of ‘just one more for the road’ pops into your head. It can also be powerful to focus on how positive you will feel in the morning if you take good care of yourself and stay within your limits.
Do any of these sound like something that could help your situation? Let us know if you need extra support getting started or advice from someone who's also had challenges with drinking and overcome them. Clinical hypnotherapy and moderation techniques can be highly effective in reducing your alcohol intake and I am here to help. Please feel free to get in touch with me to book a FREE phone or Zoom consultation using the link below.
About Tansy Forrest
I am a fully qualified, insured clinical hypnotherapist and the owner of Tansy Forrest Hypnotherapy based in Balham & Clapham, South London.
I am passionate about helping people to reach their true potential. My philosophy is about enjoying life and understanding that you don’t have to run away from your problems, but instead deal with them head on. My tailored and unique approach during my therapy sessions is progressive rather than regressive, allowing my clients to achieve lasting change.