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Drinking: When the new year started in earnest in January, many people made a number of new resolutions.
Most people make resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and abandon vices at the start of the year.
One of the most popular and challenging New Year’s resolutions is cutting back on alcohol intake.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist working at Teachers College at Columbia University, presented remedies to quit drinking.
“For some people saying, ‘I’m not going to drink this entire month,’ might be really hard,” said Hafeez.
“So trying to do so may show you how easy or difficult it is for you.”
Here we take a look at ways that you can turn down drinking.
According to Dr. Sarah Wakeman of the Massachusetts General Hospital, defining your objective will aid you in developing the habit.
“The research we have on goal setting says goals are more likely to be achieved if they’re really relevant to you as an individual and not an abstract, like, ‘I should stop drinking because drinking is bad,'” said Wakeman.
She made the point that setting reasonable goals, such as altering your sleeping patterns or beginning an exercise routine, can assist you in quitting drinking.
“I really want to stop drinking because I know when I drink heavily, I don’t get up the next morning and I don’t work out is a very specific goal,” continued Wakeman.
According to experts, the health advantages of reducing or eliminating alcohol may boost your motivation.
“Drinking less over time can have really measurable benefits in your health in terms of your blood pressure, your risk of cancer, your risk of liver disease and other conditions,” added Wakeman.
“Over the course of a month, you may notice some short-term benefits like better sleep, a better complexion due to improvements in your skin, feeling more clear-headed and having more energy.”
One strategy for quitting drinking is to set SMART goals.
The acronym goes:
- Specific: Set realistic goals and discontinue the habit
- Measurable: Record the amount of alcohol you plan to reduce
- Achievable: In situations when drinking is anticipated, make sure not to join too many gatherings
- Relevant: Take into account the advantages of quitting for your life and health.
- Time-based: Set objectives and due dates for your efforts
“If you set a bar too high, you may fail,” said Hafeez. “So it’s better to set smaller goals to achieve it.”
“Nothing starts without an honest conversation with yourself.”
Share the goal
Experts claim that sharing your objective with those you care about will boost your chances of accomplishing it.
Some claim that making posts on social media motivates people to follow them.
“That’s where I think ‘dry January’ has kind of caught on,” said Wakeman.
“If you publicly state you’re going to do something, you’re more likely to stick with it than if you keep it to yourself.”
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You might consume more alcohol at social gatherings as you mature into adulthood.
However, experts claim that substitute beverages can be utilized to replace the urge to drink and are just as delectable and festive.
“For some people, it can be sparkling water, and for other people, it’s actually having a mocktail or some sort of (nonalcoholic) drink that feels fun and celebratory,” said Wakeman.
“Substituting one behavior for another can work because you’re tricking your brain,” Hafeez chimed in.
“That can absolutely help you avoid temptation.”
There is currently a niche for nonalcoholic drinks that taste a lot like alcohol.
Some contend that the additional ingredients are more calming and healthy.
“I’m skeptical of anything that claims to relax you or have amazing health benefits that comes in a glass regardless of what it is,” Wakeman added.
“But if it’s an alternative that allows you to feel like you’re not missing out on a social situation and helps you make the changes that you want to your alcohol consumption, I don’t think there’s any downside to that.”
Even if you don’t totally abstain from drinking, Sarah Wakeman suggests keeping track of your emotions and cravings to help you spot triggers.
“Even just measuring your behavior, whether it’s alcohol or exercise or your diet, can be an intervention in and of itself,” she explained.
“Even if someone’s not yet ready to make changes, just keeping a diary of when you’re drinking, what situations you’re drinking more and how you’re feeling at those times, can really help you identify sort of trigger situations where you may be more likely to drink.”
According to experts, the impulse to stop drinking abruptly might cause severe symptoms that may call for medical attention.
“The first thing to be mindful of is whether or not you actually have an alcohol use disorder,” suggested Wakeman.
“If someone’s been drinking very heavily every single day and is at risk for withdrawal symptoms, then it can actually be dangerous to stop abruptly.”
“That would be a real indication that you need to talk to a medical professional about getting medical treatment for withdrawal and not stopping on your own.”
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Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.