Top 10 Tips for reducing your Tipple - Drink less alcohol and improve your health

In yesterday's blog I raised the question - has alcohol become your first choice stress management tool?  It's no wonder, for many of us that the answer is yes.  Unfortunately it causes more problems than it solves and can add to our stress and anxiety levels in so many ways. So today, here's my Top 10 tips to help you break the habit and reduce the amount of alcohol you consume:

Top 10 Tips for reducing your tipple

  1. Seek Help.  First things first.  If you have any doubts that alcohol has taken control of you or that you are experiencing significant health or psychological problems as a result or even alongside your alcohol consumption – Get Help.  See your GP, or check out these support websites for more specific and intense help:  NHS ChoicesAlcoholics Anonymous.
  2. Identify the underlying reasons. Spend some time (using the journal idea ahead) to identify the reasons for your drinking.  If stress is a factor, start to identify the causes and work out how to tackle those.  If a period of stress and heavy workload at work is the culprit then its time to also start looking at what you can do to tackle this.
  3. Start keeping an alcohol journal;and be honest.  Record every drink, including quantity (the real quantity – not ‘a tipple’) and strength (%abv).  Theres a great app from the NHS (National Health Service) which allows smartphone owners to easily record it. And click here for the computer version.  Reflect on your current drinking levels.  Start your journal now by answering these questions: How often do I drink? (Every day, 3-5 days a week, 1-2 a week, less than once a week).  Do I usually drink over the recommended drink limits?
  4. Introduce a drink free day in addition to your current drinking pattern.  Small changes can often be more successful than long lasting changes and lead to an increase in confidence and self belief that you can do this, so add an extra day in where you don’t drink.  Longer term this is better than a ‘no alcohol detox’ or ‘no alcohol new years resolutions’ which you break after a month.  Plan the day ahead and plan what you will do to distract or entertain yourself with rather than drink alcohol – perhaps starting that hobby that you never have time to do.
  5. Buy lower strength alcohol.  It needn't be 'low' or 'no' alcohol.  There is a whole range of alcohol drinks and even a difference of a few percentage points can offer a dramatic reduction over the long term in your alcohol intake
  6. Create obstacles to replenishing your drink.  By this I mean don’t stock up.  Buy for each occasion.  Avoid the special offers (Buy one get one free style).  Store the alcohol in an awkward and hard to reach place and return it there every time.  The effort required is likely to slow you down just a little.
  7. Intersperse your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and water.  This will help maintain your hydration levels and dilute the effects of alcohol.  After all, how drunk you are is simply a question of how much alcohol is circulating round your blood stream at a given time.  By keeping hydrated you are watering down the alcohol concentration.
  8. Create a drink cut-off point for each evening.  Aim to stop alcohol intake at least 90 minutes before bed.  Swap it with a drink such as a malt drink or hot chocolate (although do check for caffeine content).  Use the ninety minutes to slow down and unwind naturally and allow the effects of the alcohol to take their natural course whilst awake rather than whilst asleep.
  9. Have a meal.  Enjoy a healthy meal with your drink.  This ensures that the alcohol absorption is slowed and will hopefully slow down the rate you actually consume it.
  10. Do the opposite of supersizing.  We are getting used to larger everything from pop-corn containers at the cinema, to plate size and, yes, even our drink size.  Research shows that reducing the size of the container will reduce the amount consumed ‘mindlessly,’ i.e. without noticing what we are knocking back.  So:
  • Wine drinkers:  Get a smaller wine glass and only fill half full every time
  • Beer/ Lager/ alco-pop drinkers:  Use a glass and make it a small one.
  • Spirit drinkers:  Use a small glass AND buy yourself a spirit measure and measure out a single measure for each drink.  Compared to what you normally pour in (you know as if someone has just knocked your pouring arm at that critical glass filling moment), you will dramatically reduce your alcohol content.

Right, so there you have it.  Makea start by picking one or two tactics and then build from there.  It’s about undoing, over time, the bad habits you’ve formed over time.  And don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon from time to time.  Just get back on.  Over a year, these small efforts will pay big dividends.

You might want to check out my interview with Kieron Brady (cica.org.uk).  Kieron is a recovering alcoholic and shares his own insight into this thorny subject.

SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other.  Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.