Are you interested in cutting back on alcohol consumption?
Alcohol underpins many social situations. It often feels “necessary” to drink in order to maintain friendships or business relationships. We often feel it is “necessary” to have a drink in order to relax or have fun.
It is okay to have drinks in moderation, but it's never necessary to drink. No one is born with an alcohol deficiency. We didn't need drinks when we were a kid to have fun and connect.
Somewhere along the lines, the idea that ‘drinking = fun' crept into our heads – and too often it drives us into blurry nights and hungover mornings.
To truly enjoy alcohol (if you want to), you can't let it have power over you. As a guy who used to like to have a little too much fun, here are 5 unique tips I used for drastically cutting back on alcohol consumption.
5 Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol
1. Re-frame Your Thoughts On Drinking
In college (at least as a male) the common thought is the more you can drink the ‘cooler' you are. If you can chug 10 beers you're tougher than the next guy.
I used to feel guilty and lame for not partying hard or leaving early and skipping those extra beers.
However, true strength comes from being comfortable sober.
Strength is having the courage to create your own reality and not need to escape from it.
We all want to improve. Once you can internalize the premise that sobriety is a virtue, you may find it easier to quit or cutback.
2. Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you suddenly cut back, you'll likely experience extreme physical cravings. However, those cravings aren't only for alcohol, but also for the sugar (and calories) your body is used to receiving when it's time for happy hour.
For the first week I quit, I bought myself a pack of ice cream sandwiches. I would eat one at the end of the work day. I'd treat it as the same ritual to unwind.
These treats satisfied the sugar addiction so that my brain only had to fight one craving (alcohol) at a time.
Eventually I cut back on the ice cream sandwiches as well.
3. Soda Water and Limes
Sure, you're cutting back on drinking but you still want to socialize. May I recommend ordering soda waters with lime?
The drink gives you something to do with your hands and satisfies any oral fixations you may have.
Beyond that, everyone will just assume you're drinking a cocktail. You won't have to answer the “Why aren't you drinking?” question a million times.
If someone asks me directly if I'm drinking or not, I tell them the truth. However, if I decide to go out and stay sober, I find it easier to just do it and not make a big announcement about it.
Not only does ‘hiding it' take the pressure off you, it makes others feel more comfortable. Just because you're not drinking doesn't mean other people don't have too. Let them have their fun and they'll assume you're right with them!
Bonus: You'll get to see how strange bars really are as the night progresses. It's good fun and a bit shocking to the sober eye.
4. Practice Meditation/Mindfulness
I do 21 minutes of standing meditation every morning and 21 minutes of seated meditation every night. While it wasn't my intention, these practices have led me to drink less.
As you grow more mindful and in tune with what you want from life, you'll also grow more cognizant of the fact that drinking is just a distraction from your true calling.
When we don't drink, we spend more time building our dreams rather than sitting around (drinking) and talking about them.
5. Professional Help and Counseling
Addiction is a disease. I was lucky enough to not have what most would label as “alcoholism”, but if you do, there is help. If ice cream sandwiches and Jedi mind tricks aren't cutting it, there are always AA classes, therapy options, and other professional help.
You don't have to fight addiction alone.
Whether you decide to drink or not is up to you, but you have to control the habit before it controls you.
I've thoroughly enjoyed my new, more mature relationship with alcohol and hope that some of the tips and tricks in this article help you to do the same. Thanks for reading!