“I just want to reduce my alcohol intake but……………”
Have you heard yourself say this, and then feel overwhelmed about finding a way to reduce your alcohol intake or stopping altogether?
Does this then make you anxious or angry that you believe that you need alcohol to get you through the day?
If yes, you are not alone. Let me explain why more and more people are turning to alcohol and some simple questions you can answer to allow you, to find your solution to reducing or stopping the amount of alcohol you consume.
When I see clients often females, they are embarrassed to tell me they are struggling to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink. My question to them is “What do you want to be doing instead?”
The answer is often, “I would like to have just the one glass of wine, enjoy it and then stop”, or “I would like 3 days a week where I don’t drink and I’m not missing it. I want control back”
This then tells me what their goal is, but it also helps the client to put into words what they want rather than discussing how problematic drinking has become, they are looking to the preferred future with solutions rather than looking at the problem.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why it is good to limit your alcohol intake.
Weight gain – Alcohol is calorific, it will put weight on, and quickly
Poor sleep – You may feel that a few drinks sends you off to sleep quickly, but you will have poorer quality sleep, waking up in the night and alcohol disrupts REM (dream sleep) so you will feel groggy and less rested because of it.
Fertility – If you want to start a family or are starting IVF, reducing your alcohol intake has been proven to help give you a better chance of becoming pregnant.
Menopause – Alcohol can make some menopausal symptoms worse.
Higher chance of breast cancer.
If you suffer from osteoporosis, alcohol can make this worse.
There can be many triggers that occur and lead to us drinking more. Many of my clients are females aged between 30 and 65 years, life is busy for them. They may be juggling careers, children, finances, relationships, ageing parents and getting older.
On top of this during the pandemic they are now coping with home schooling, working from home, being furloughed, difficulty in getting food and all the stresses this brings.
Prior to the lockdown, you may have driven children to clubs and classes, gone to exercise classes, or just out and about meeting people. You were busy and didn’t drink as you were doing other things, there was routine and less chance to think about having a drink.
During lockdown people were home all day, every day. Life was different, no routine and when we become stressed a part of our brain known as the flight, fight and freeze part or sub-conscious part looks for ways it can help you. If after a difficult day you have a glass of wine because you say, I deserve this after the day I have had. The brain notices this and pattern matches that if we are stressed, we “deserve or need” an alcoholic drink. This is the new norm and we believe that alcohol = relaxation.
It becomes the ultimate decompression tool.
So, if you are having a difficult morning, the brain reminds you that alcohol will help, that’s what this part of the brain believes. This progresses to waiting for the appropriate hour to have that drink, and that hour can become earlier and earlier. The fight, flight and freeze part will give you as many reasons as you want to keep drinking as it believes this will help keep you alive and deal with the day.
There is another part of the brain, known as the intellectual part or your conscious part of the brain. This will try and tell you all the reasons why you should cut down, weight, health, financial etc
The trouble is the sub-conscious part is stronger, which is why we then find it difficult to stop.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to look for YOUR solution.
“When don’t you drink?”
You may say, I won’t drink if I am driving, or if I’m looking after children on my own, or if I am with relatives as I don’t want them to know. You may say, I won’t drink when I’m working, or I won’t before 6pm.
Whatever you answer, and I would like you to think of ALL the times you don’t drink, this will show you that you do have the skills and recourses to tell your sub-conscious brain that you are NOT drinking at certain times.
Include anytime during the day that you stop yourself from drinking even though you would like one. Also include all the times you are busy thinking of other things.
Now you know you do this more than you thought. You have the ability to use these skills at other times.
“What would you like to do instead?”
What and when are your triggers for drinking?. It could be, when I am cooking dinner, or the children’s bedtime.
Whatever they are, think about what you would like to do instead. Do this at a time you are feeling relaxed and have time to think. When you have decided on what you would prefer to do, imagine in your mind you doing this. Our brain does not understand the difference between imagination and real life. When we allow ourselves to day dream and imagine us doing these preferred things the brain thinks this is now already happening. You will then think of more and more things you would like to do as you feel the better effects of not drinking. This will then become the new norm, the new habit.
I am a hypnotherapist who can help people gain more control over their drinking habits, I am not a doctor and you should get in touch with your doctor if you are worried about any health problems, there is also information on the internet from Drinkaware and the NHS. If you are drinking heavily, then it is dangerous to suddenly stop, please get medical advice before doing this.
If you have any questions, please contact me through my website.