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Drinking: Many people made a number of new resolutions when the new year began in earnest in January.
At the start of the year, many people make plans to eat healthier, exercise more, and give up vices.
Reduced alcohol consumption is one of the most frequently made New Year’s promises, but it’s also one of the hardest to keep.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez from Teachers College, Columbia University, offered solutions to the problem.
“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.
Clarifying your goal, according to Dr. Sarah Wakeman of the Massachusetts General Hospital will aid in the development of 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 pointed out that making realistic goals like changing your sleeping habits or starting an exercise regimen can help you stop 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.
Experts claim that the benefits to your health that come from cutting back on or quitting alcohol may increase 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.”
Setting SMART objectives is one way to stop drinking.
The acronym goes:
- Specific: Set attainable objectives and stop the habit
- Measurable: Log the quantity of drinking you intend to cut back on
- Achievable: Make sure there aren’t too many gatherings when drinking is anticipated
- Relevant: Consider the benefits of quitting for your life and health
- Time-based: Set goals and deadlines 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.”
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Share the goal
According to experts, notifying your loved ones about your goal will increase your chances of success.
Posting on social media, according to some, inspires others 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.”
As you become older, you may drink more alcohol at social events.
However, according to experts, alternate beverages are just as delicious and festive and may be used to replace the impulse to drink.
“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 now an industry for nonalcoholic beverages with flavors that are very similar to alcohol.
Some claim that the added substances are healthier and more soothing.
“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 completely give up alcohol, keeping track of your emotions and urges may help you identify triggers, according to Sarah Wakeman.
“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.”
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Experts claim that the temptation to stop drinking suddenly can result in horrible symptoms that may indicate the need 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.”