1. Keep yourself motivated
Our brains needs more time than we would like to turn a new behaviour into something we do automatically. So whether you’re cutting back on alcohol or removing it completely, your brain will need some time to process this change. Your brain has to create a new pathway – and avoid existing, well-used pathways – when you start swapping your usual drink order for a mocktail, or trying an alcohol-free alternative with your dinner. Luckily, the more times you do something, the stronger this pathway becomes. Repetition is crucial; when you’ve swapped for an alcohol-free alternative enough times, your brain will begin automatically taking this pathway.
2. Interrupt your brain
When you’re trying to resist giving into temptation, you need to interrupt your automatic brain – the existing pathways and habits you have. Enjoying a drink at a certain time of the week or in a particular situation are habits that your brain may be used to. So if you’re used to having a glass of wine with your dinner or enjoying a beer after work for example, you need to shake these habits up. Small changes like opening doors with your non-dominant hand for a couple of weeks can jar it out of autopilot and help build your willpower.
3. Surf the urge
If you’re finding it tough, another good technique to try is urge-surfing. Urges will pass, whether you give into them or not. Rather than trying to ignore the temptation for a drink, instead pay attention to the kind of sensations it causes in your body and really feel it. If you’re able to confront your urge head on, you’re far less likely to slip up and give into temptation.
How to pick yourself back up
Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to slip up and give into your urges. If this happens, don’t fret. Making a major lifestyle change is difficult, so if you do fall off the wagon and have a drink, there are a couple of ways to pick yourself up.
Don’t punish yourself for your slip-up. Instead, view it with self-compassion. If you treat yourself with kindness and understanding when you’ve had a set-back, rather than self-criticism or frustration, you’re more likely to achieve your overall goal.
Allow other indulgences
It puts a lot of strain on the brain to make too many changes all at once, and you’re less likely to achieve them all. So if you’re giving up or cutting down on alcohol, don’t worry too much about saying no to dessert as well – you’re only human.
Learn from your experience
Being constructive and learning from your slip-up can help too. Focus on the positives and how much you’ve achieved in your challenge already. And if you’re feeling down, a great way to enhance your mood naturally is through exercise.