Get into the spirit of dry January

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Whilst it’s true that most of us are a long way off needing to take the 12 Steps programme, a goodly proportion of the adult population of this country like to unwind at the end of the day with a glass of something and end up drinking too much alcohol.

And that’s not just the occasional day but most days – if not every day. So what’s a bottle of wine between two? Nothing to worry about surely? But it’s surprising how easily that can become a bottle of wine each. Or more. Every day.

If you’re feeling a sense of sheepish recognition as you read, bear in mind you’re not the only one. We’re not talking about the insidious binge drinking culture which defiles our town centres every weekend but a quiet revolution in drinking habits behind closed doors throughout the land.

These are the ordinary drinking habits of ordinary people with jobs and kids and mortgages and responsibilities they take very seriously. This revolution is measured in the media by occasional articles about our wine consumption overtaking other European countries, booming off-sales and declining pubs. Clearly, we’re enjoying drinking far more at home than we could legally if one of us was driving to the pub. And at a much lower cost too.

But the cost to the health of the nation is not quite clear. The biggest generation of boozers since the 18th century gin riots has not aged sufficiently to succumb to alcohol-related diseases in epidemic numbers. In the wake of Christmas excess, many of us are embarking on a dry January to offset the effect on waistline, bank balance and future well-being.

Maybe it’s time in the post festive lull to examine what’s going on here. Drinking too much is an integral part of our social life. It’s how we have fun, chill out, celebrate and occasionally fall over. It reminds us of our youth when we didn’t have a care and could put away 15 pints of snakebite on a Friday night and still want more on Saturday. It’s a reward, a treat, an antidote for all life’s woes. No wonder we don’t want to stop.

At the risk of sounding like a complete party-pooper, now might be the time to take individual stock of the flipside of all these wonderful benefits. Hands up if you’re too fat even though you eat healthily. Tick that box if you’re always knackered in the morning.

Ask yourself how much quicker you could pay off the credit card bills if you cut out weekday drinking. And here are a few more awkward questions: How’s your sex life lately? Do you sometimes forget how you spent the latter part of the evening? Are you often irritable and unproductive at work? Do you lack energy to get off the sofa at the weekend?

If any or all the above makes uncomfortable reading, here’s the good news. Drinking too much every day is an easy habit to change. If you need any incentive, just a week or two unlashed is enough to experience the benefits.

I speak from experience as a lifelong party animal who could take on a touring rugby team pint for pint. I’ve got my mojo back. There’s joie in my vivre. I’m nice to children, dumb animals and call centre employees. And it didn’t take 12 steps to do it.

Being a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner is helpful as I can give my subconscious mind a good talking to or use any number of creative visualisation techniques to change patterns of behaviour if ever my drinking should get out of hand.

I have helped numerous clients turn down the desire to tipple any time any place anywhere. And some of that good advice must rub off on me too.

Here are my ten top tips for cutting back

  1. Alternate a glass of alcohol with a glass of water
  2. Only drink on alternate days
  3. Pour half measures or use smaller glasses
  4. Take smaller sips and put your glass down between times
  5. Don’t drink at all on one, two three or more weekdays
  6. Don’t drink at home or on your own
  7. Only drink on social occasions
  8. Just have one glass of wine with an evening meal
  9. Don’t bulk buy or stockpile
  10. Just stop

Let’s face it, savouring a glass of fine wine, refreshing beer, mellowing Scotch, summery Pimm’s, sublime gin and tonic with ice and a slice, or whatever your poison is, is one of life’s great pleasures.

And it’s possible to enjoy this great tradition without becoming a lush, lager lout or mean drunk in your own living room and ruining your future health and happiness in the process.

Some guidelines to make dry January easy

Do not try not to think about drinking.

Don’t doubt your ability to choose not to drink alcohol. It’s not as if you’re giving anything up, you’re gaining more in health and energy benefits.

Be aware that you control your decisions.

Don’t change your lifestyle. You can do what you enjoy without alcohol.

It takes about 21 days to prove to yourself that you can change your habits. 
Each and every day you forget to remember to pour a drink is a personal victory.

Celebrate the benefits of being slimmer, richer and healthier.

Enjoy breaking the ‘wine o’clock’ or Friday night triggers with other more interesting ways to spend your time.

Never envy people who drink alcohol.

And finally, enjoy life!

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