MAKE A PLAN. “But I am a spontaneous free spirit and I hate plans!” That is wonderful! I love that about you, MAKE A PLAN.
The planing and prep actually begins WAY before your first drink. Set yourself up all day to still have will power leftover by the evening. In coaching, this can be an ongoing process because it often goes much deeper into: where are you not taking care of yourself? what do you need to say no to? where do you need to ask for help? what decisions can be eliminated? But the short version and an easy place to start is: meditate, sweat, fuel your body, and say no. Look at your day, what can you eliminate for a while? Where can you create some space? Can you ask for help? Some of these changes might be forever, some might just be for a bit (but saying no is now one of my most favorite things!).
Fueling your body: this has nothing to do with health right now, at this point this is literally making sure you are eating at regular intervals, you have food around to grab when you are hungry, and you are making sure there are not points in the day your body is completely depleted. This also includes drinking water. Buy a water bottle, carry it around, and set reminders if you need to but drink it all day. Wake up and chug water before you do anything else to start the day hydrated.
Meditation: I have written more about meditations here and here but the short version is this can start as a 3 min mantra meditation. Wake up, chug your water, sit alone somewhere, set a timer for three minutes, close your eyes, and repeat “I am unstoppable.” Check out the millions meditation apps there are and find one you like, there are free meditations everywhere, but make it easy or you won’t do it! (pro tip: pick out the meditation you will do the night before or if you are like me you will end up lost on Insight timer trying to make a decision and just end up frustrated and out of time).
Exercise: this also has nothing to do with your body or body image. I believe moving your body is one of the quickest and most effective ways to change your mood. When you quit drinking, you will have a period of time that your hedonic set point has to reset because alcohol has given your body artificial highs for so long that normal things will not give you the same dopamine hit as it should. Sweat and exercise can often hit that point when other things can’t. You do not need to run 10 miles a day. But you do need to move at whatever capacity you can.
Next, look at your day. What time of day is the hardest for you to avoid drinking? I know this is pandemic-work-at-home times so all rules are off, so right now we are not focusing on saying no to the random mimosa but what is the time of day that is most difficult for you. Typically, it is sometime in the evening, either around making dinner, when work ends, kids go to bed, Netflix turns on, etc. Next, look at your ritual around drinking. When you stop and really analyze it there is always more than just “I drink”. Maybe it is I always pour a drink when I get out dinner ingredients and have my first drink while cooking, I tuck my kids in, go into the kitchen, and make a drink, maybe it is I always have a pre-drink before my game night Zoom so I will be on drink #2 before it starts.
Now, create a plan to change up your routine. If the actual routine is something you are able to change or eliminate, start there. If someone else can start dinner while you take a walk that’s great, but it is more than likely the routine will stay in place because of wanting and/or necessity: you will still make dinner, you still want to hang out with friends, the workday still ends, the kids still go to bed.
I am going to use dinner as an example….Old routine: Pour a glass of wine while cooking or when dinner is delivered. New routine: I have planned ahead and I decided this morning that my fun drink this week will be the new kombucha flavor I grabbed at the store. Before I cook dinner/order dinner, I am going to get some fresh air. I will go for a 5-10 min walk or sit outside for 5 mins or lock myself in the bathroom for 5 mins. I will take those couple of minutes and visualize how I want my night to look: I see myself pouring the kombucha, I imagine the first taste, I see myself sipping it while cooking or eating. I see myself pouring a second glass as I light a candle or diffuse oils to change up the smell in my house. After dinner, if I wasn’t able to get fresh air pre-dinner, I take a couple of minutes to be outside or feel the cold air on my face. I let myself feel how good it will feel to get past dinner without drinking. I fast forward all the way until I go to bed. I see myself lying in bed completely sober and feeling proud, happy, satisfied, and knowing I am going to sleep like a teenager (at least my teenager). After the quick visualization, you act!
I work with clients on building a toolkit but a good place to start if you get stuck is to ask yourself these two questions and pick a way to stimulate one of your 5 senses: grab a mint or piece of chocolate, diffuse some oils or light a candle, organize something, go on a walk and listen to funny podcast, take a cold shower (or run your hands under cold water), meditate.
Tomorrow’s Q/A: How long to I have to commit to this?
*I do feel like I need at add on here that my speciality is working with clients that would be considered “gray area” drinkers. I have worked with clients that are also receiving intervention from a doctor but with the doctors support. If you feel like you are physically dependent on alcohol, please get support from a medical professional before detoxing.