10 really good Distraction Techniques for Avoiding Alcohol Consumption: Addiction
08 Nov 2015
Increasingly, across all cultures, having fun and socialising has become synonymous with drinking. The legal status, societal acceptance and the glamorisation of alcohol has further impacted this culture.
More and more people are being led to believe that they are incapable of having a good time if they don't drink. Bars and pubs worldwide cater to people who have worked all day and are either tired or fatigued or both and just want to ‘unwind’. This has shown a sharp rise in binge drinking in evenings, weekends and holidays. The consequences of repeated binge drinking are far reaching: from medical emergencies such as road accidents and alcohol poisioning; to breakdown of significant relationships, work related consequences and poor mental health. If you identify with this, you would also agree that deciding not to drink is not as easy task, especially on a day to day basis. If drinking is a significant part of your life and you wish to avoid or reduce drinking at peak hours, you might find the following tips useful:
Spend quality time with family and friends -
It is extremely useful to bring to mind the family member/s or friend/s that you enjoy the company of; or have not seen in a while that do not drink alcohol regularly. Meeting an old friend for an alcohol free lunch or dinner or coffee can be incredibly satisfying and uplift your mood. It might just be the perfect break in your studying-work-drinking-sleeping schedule that you had been looking for. Similarly spending time with a family member or your spouse or partner without alcohol being involved can be refreshing and very positive for your relationships.
Avoid people, places and things that remind you of alcohol -
Take a new route home after work to avoid the bar you usually frequent or the liquor store you buy alcohol from. Learn to say ‘no’ to your regular drinking friends - this does not mean you’re abandoning them just that you have other things to do than just drinking. Tell everyone you’re having a break from alcohol for a while - you can say it’s for health purposes. Think about accepting invitations where you know there will be lots of alcohol and there’s a chance you’ll dink too much - sometimes it’s better to be missed rather than do the same old thing with the same old people!
Go exploring! -
Most of the time you might find yourself in a few select places where you end up going night after night to drink with the same people! Awake the explorer in you: check out the new restaurants in your area, catch a good movie, go bowling or to a concert or theatre show; or just go for a long drive or simply take a relaxing walk in natural spaces like your local park. Check out what your area or city has to offer outside of drinking avenues.
Make some time for yourself -
In our fast paced, work filled lives, finding time for yourself is necessary for good emotional and psychological health. Reading a good book, listening to your favourite music or simply sitting comfortably in silence for a while are great ways to spend your evenings and weekends; they will leave you refreshed and more grounded within yourself. Try not to give in to negative peer pressure; especially when you know how it’s going to end! Instead be strong and independent and build a life you’ll be proud of.
Channel your creativity -
Picking up a lost hobby that you used to enjoy like playing an instrument or cooking or painting is not only a better alternative to a night of drinking but also has huge benefits to your self esteem and relationships. Similarly activities such as yoga, dancing and generally investing in creative pursuits helps to connect with people in our life that matter the most to you in new and engaging ways.
Inform yourself -
Having a factual and objective understanding of how alcohol effects your body and your brain is essential to fight back all the assumptions about alcohol we tend to pick up from our fiends and peers. For example: contrary to popular belief, drinking alcohol does not help with sleeping. In fact regular drinking has adverse effects on the quality of your sleep and many more.
Recall and remember -
In the moment when you are about to go out for a drinking session with your friends or colleagues, you might only remember the past euphoria of the first few drinks or how you became less anxious and more talkative and ‘desirable.’ However more often than not if you pause enough to think beyond the ‘rose-tinted-glasses’ view of alcohol you will also be reminded of past times of painful hangovers, embarrassing situations, the wasting of money and realisations that the heavy drinking wasn't worth the consequences and often low mood the day after. Contrary to belief, being drunk is not attractive or clever; plus too much alcohol dulls your senses, so how can you be interesting to anyone else or interested in very much? So consciously recalling past instances of heavy drinking in their entirety is a very useful deterrent if you are honest with yourself and willing to be dissuaded from a night of heavy drinking.
Question your intent -
Understanding the intent behind drinking brings clarity into the reasons why drinking is a part of your life. Most drinking sessions are not as ‘last minute’ decisions as they seem. Asking the following questions creates awareness about your relationship with alcohol and weather it is as harmless or friendly to you as you may often allow yourself to believe: ’‘Why do i feel like drinking really? Is it because I am stressed out, anxious or low? Is it because I can not figure out any other ways enjoying myself after a hard day’s work? Am i avoiding something? Do i use alcohol to give me confidence and reduce anxiety? Did drinking work out for me last time for the same reasons? So does drinking really help or worsen my circumstances and cause me more trouble?”
Recognise your pattern -
With most people who drink regularly, there is a pattern of thoughts, feelings and beliefs that surround their drinking. Not all drinking is problematic, but when it consists of an important portion of your life then it is time to reflect that maybe it is not just coincidental that you are drinking every evening or every weekend; maybe you are not just drinking just because ‘everyone’ else is? Most people have a different pattern of drinking and most importantly have a different pattern of arriving to the point of drinking. So ask yourself have you continued to drink despite consequences to your relationships and health? Have you ignored or not heeded to the requests of your friends and family that have pointed out your excessive drinking? Do you feel you need to reduce your drinking? Have you let people down and not been reliable? Do you experience lapse in memory or blackouts after drinking? If your answer is yes to any of the above questions then you should address your alcohol use with a mental health professional. Over consumption of alcohol is a shame based illness - the more you drink and have negative consequences, then the more shame and guilt you’ll feel; then often you’ll drink more to escape those uncomfortable feelings - so the downward spiral will continue and can often lead to being alcohol dependent and becoming an alcoholic.
Talk about it with someone -
Regular and problematic drinking thrives in secrecy and denial. It is important and very helpful to talk about your concerns and thoughts with someone. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help - most good professionals ensure confidentiality. Also getting feedback from a loved one is very powerful way to understand the consequences of your drinking and how it’s impacting on your and other’s lives. Speaking about it with a loved one or those that care about you also increases transparency and trust is your relationships. Self awareness and understanding of alcohol and how it impacts your life is the first step so don’t hesitate to reach out to a counsellor or therapist, guided introspection is one the most powerful tools to distract yourself from drinking by taking time to think and look within yourself before you chose to drink.
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