7 tips for taking a break from alcohol

Taking a rest from alcohol is a great way to recharge. Here’s how to make kicking it easier.

If Sunday morning is more or less synonymous with “hangover” in your mind, a break from alcohol might be just what your body is screaming out for. This February, FebFast encourages you to take a 28-day holiday from drinking, giving yourself time to recharge, replenish and reset your habits.

Giving up alcohol – even just for a month – can have numerous health benefits. Past FebFasters have reported feeling more energetic, being more mentally alert, sleeping better, losing weight and having clearer skin during their alcohol-free month. Better yet, 73 per cent go on to reduce their regular alcohol consumption post-February.

Of course, if you’re used to catching up with friends at the pub every Friday or unwinding with a glass or two of wine after work, abstaining from drinking is easier said than done. Here are some ideas to help keep you on the dry path…

Change up your social activities

Get creative with your social engagements. Instead of saying “let’s catch up for a drink”, why not arrange a picnic in the park, a game of beach cricket, or an outing to an art gallery? If you have friends who like to get active, catching up for a jog or a walk can be a great social activity – or if they are a bit reluctant, promising brunch afterwards can make it more enjoyable. Think about what you have in common with your friends and ways you can enjoy each other’s company without drinking. A movie night, a board game marathon, a bushwalk, a drive out to the country, a craft session, a healthy lunch and a trip to the beach are just a few ideas.

Enjoy non-alcoholic drinks

Treat yourself to some tasty organic juice, or other non-alcoholic drinks that look refreshing and healthy. Pour it in a nice glass with a straw, some ice and a wedge of fruit on the side and enjoy every sip. At social events, instead of feeling out of place without a drink in your hand, try something simple like soda with lime – if the vibe of the party is fun enough, you won’t even miss the vodka.

Find different ways to relax

If you love a glass of wine to help you de-stress after a busy day at work, try to replace it with another activity that gives you that same relaxing feeling – a warm bath, a cup of tea, your favourite TV show, a good book (or a trashy magazine!), spending time with a pet, meditation… Whatever it is that makes you feel good, treat yourself to some time out to do it and let the stress of the day melt away.

Be the designated driver

Your intentions to abstain might waver if you arrive at a social event where everyone is drinking and encouraging you to join in. If you’re the driver, then you won’t have a choice. Closing off the option from the outset is a great way to avoid temptation and silence any friends hassling you about why you’re not drinking. Plus, if you do other people a favour by giving them a lift, that’s great karma for you.

Discover your drinking triggers

This is a good time to take note of your normal drinking patterns and recognise which feelings, people, places and situations cue you to drink. There may be things that influence you without you even realising it. Perhaps there are certain people in your life you always end up getting tipsy with. Maybe you associate certain times of the day, or different nights of the week with having a drink. Whether you link drinking with celebration, or socialising, or stress-relief, or commiseration, or calming nerves, recognising those triggers can be a beneficial exercise.

Get help with any deeper issues

For many people, drinking too much is a way to escape feelings of unhappiness, worry, stress or boredom. If you think there might be an underlying cause – say problems at work, relationship difficulties, feelings of loneliness, or even depression or anxiety – it’s important to deal with those issues. Talk to your friends, family, your GP or a psychologist, or check out the resources at beyondblue.org.au.

Remember the positives

Focus less on what you’re giving up and more on what you’re gaining: hangover-free mornings, more energy and vitality, clearer skin, skipping extra sugar and empty calories, better sleep, more mental clarity, greater productivity, lots of money saved… the list of benefits is well worth it!

To sign up for FebFast, visit febfast.org.au

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