The key to lasting behavioral change is not willpower but a profound shift in perspective. If you're struggling with your drinking habits and are looking for ways to quit drinking, you've already taken the first step towards change. While quitting drinking can be a challenging and daunting process, it's important to remember that you're not alone, and there are many resources and strategies available to help you achieve your goal. In this blog post, we'll provide you with five science-backed tips on how to quit drinking and lead a happier, healthier life.
Recognize the Negative Effects of Alcohol on Your Health and Well-Being
One of the most effective ways to quit drinking is to acknowledge the negative impact that alcohol has on your physical and mental health. Alcohol consumption can lead to a range of health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. It can also worsen existing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and increase the risk of developing new ones.
To help you quit drinking, take stock of these negative changes. Do you deal with the dreaded “hangxiety” after a night of heavy drinking? Do you get into arguments more often with your partner? Has your sleep been messed up for a while? Think of what you want to improve in your life as a result of going alcohol-free. This can serve as a reminder of why you're making the decision to quit and provide motivation to stick with it.
Build a Support System
Quitting drinking can be challenging, and it's important to have a support system in place to help you through the process. This can include family members, friends, support groups, or a therapist. Having a support system can help you stay accountable, provide encouragement and motivation, and offer a safe space to discuss your challenges and successes.
Research has shown that social support is a key factor in helping individuals quit drinking. Individuals who receive social support from family and friends are more likely to quit drinking than those who do not receive support.
Develop New Healthy Habits
One of the challenges of quitting drinking is finding new ways to cope with stress and other emotions that may have previously been dealt with through alcohol consumption. To help fill this gap, it's important to develop new healthy habits that can provide stress relief and improve your overall well-being.
Some healthy habits to consider include exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling, or engaging in a hobby that you enjoy. These activities can help reduce stress and improve your mood, while also providing a positive outlet for your energy and emotions.
Atomic Habits by James Clear provides a practical framework for building and breaking habits. The book emphasizes the idea that small changes can lead to big results over time, and that habits are the key to achieving long-term success. Using the method discussed in Atomic Habits, consider the following.
- Start with a small habit. The first step in building a new habit is to start with a small, achievable action. This is important because it allows you to develop momentum and build confidence in your ability to make changes. For example, if you want to start a daily exercise habit, start with just five minutes of exercise per day.
- Connect the habit to a specific cue. Habits are often triggered by specific cues in our environment. To build a new habit, you need to connect it to a specific cue that will remind you to perform the habit. If you want to start a daily meditation habit, you could connect it to a specific time of day, such as first thing in the morning.
- Make the habit easy to perform. Another key to building a new habit is to make it as easy as possible to perform. This means removing any barriers or obstacles that might get in the way of performing the habit. When starting an evening reading habit, make sure you have a book waiting for you on your nightstand.
- Create a visual reminder. Visual reminders can be a powerful tool for building new habits. This can be something as simple as a note or a picture that reminds you of the habit you want to build. If you want to start a daily gratitude habit, you could create a visual reminder by placing a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that says "What am I grateful for today?"
- Track your progress. Tracking your progress is important because it allows you to see how far you've come and provides motivation to keep going. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as using a habit tracker app (like Reframe!) or marking off a calendar each day that you perform the habit. For instance, if your goal is to start writing daily, you could track your progress by keeping a log of the number of words you write each day.
By following these steps, you can create new healthy habits that will help you quit alcohol with confidence.
Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being, making it a valuable tool in the process of quitting drinking.
A 2018 study found that individuals whose substance misuse treatments incorporated mindfulness had a higher success rate than those who received standard treatment. This suggests that mindfulness can be an effective strategy for preventing a return to bad habits and maintaining sobriety.
To use mindfulness techniques to help you quit drinking, you can start by setting aside time each day to practice mindfulness meditation. This can involve sitting in a quiet space and focusing on your breath, while being aware of thoughts and emotions that arise. If you’re a beginner or do better with a bit of prompting, you can try out a guided meditation. We have several on our app you can choose from.
You can also try diaphragmatic breathing. This involves taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body. An excellent way to do so is to try out the box breathing exercise:
- Place one hand on your abdomen as you inhale through your nostrils for a count of four.
- Hold for a count of four.
- Exhale through your nostrils for another count of four.
- Finally, hold for a count of four again. This completes one breath cycle.
- Repeat the exercise for 5 minutes, or until you feel noticeably better.
Seek Professional Help
Finally, it's important to recognize that quitting drinking can be a difficult process, and professional help may be necessary for some individuals. This can include therapy, medication, or other treatments that are tailored to your specific needs.
Professional guidance can help us work through detrimental behaviors and thought patterns in a safe and supportive environment. And having extra accountability will help us stay true to our long-term goals.
If you believe your alcohol use has led to health problems — physical, mental, or both — please reach out to your physician. They can perform necessary screenings and refer you to appropriate treatment so that you can experience optimal well-being.
Reframe Is Here To Help!
No matter what your reasons are for quitting, the Reframe app is here to support you as you end your relationship with alcohol. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people ditch the booze for good, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way, too.
Each person’s situation is different, and that’s why we don’t presume to tell you how to live your life — we simply present the neuroscientific facts in daily readings to help you sort out the impacts of alcohol’s presence in your life. When you join the Reframe family, you also gain access to our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in calls. We’re a diverse and engaging community from across the world full of people who are asking the same questions you are, and wrestling with the same challenges. Remember that you’re not alone!
Best of all, you can try Reframe free for 7 days, so there’s no risk and a lot to potentially gain! Think about what it would feel like to finally live with the mental clarity, vitality, and confidence you deserve. We want you to live your best life, so if you feel your body telling you it’s time to give up the alcohol, you’ve come to the right place. Say goodbye to alcohol and live more with Reframe today! We look forward to seeing you in the app!