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8 Actionable Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol [Infographic]

By Nadya Khoja
Posted: August 05, 2022

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So you’re thinking it might be time to start cutting back on alcohol?

Maybe you’re not quite ready to stop drinking cold turkey, or consider going sober forever. You might just be feeling a little bit “sober curious”, or you’ve stumbled across the phrase “mindful drinking” a handful of times and thought you might give it a try.

The point being, you’ve definitely come to the right place to learn how to drink less alcohol.

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Understanding the psychology behind your drinking habits

Much like building good habits, breaking bad ones relies on the same behavioral patterns. 

When it comes to drinking alcohol and feeling compelled to continuously drink (to the point where you feel like you can’t stop once you start) it can help to understand what your trigger was in the first place. 

Once you recognize that trigger, the next step is working towards changing the intended action

Now let’s assume one of your triggers is receiving stressful information. The action you might typically take is to pour yourself a glass of wine. This action brings us to the next phase, which is experiencing a reward. You feel happier and more relaxed after your glass of wine.

At least, in the moment it might feel that way, but the side effects and the less immediate outcome is the feeling of increased stress, anxiety, and poor sleep quality. Not to mention, a good chance of feeling a pretty bad hangover the next day.

By exploring ways to replace the reward of alcohol, with something more empowering and beneficial to your health, you can start working on breaking a bad habit and replacing it with a healthy one.

For instance, the next time the trigger of receiving stressful information comes your way, take a moment to pause before unintentionally reaching for the bottle. Go for a walk, take ten deep breaths, and really try to stay mindful about your own decision making. 

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8 Tools and Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol from Sunnyside Coaches

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To help you on your mindful drinking journey, I spoke to some of the coaches at Sunnyside to hear what real experts had to share, and their own personal practices for cutting back on drinking. 

These are actionable tips from the team at Sunnyside. Sunnyside is focused on using habit changing techniques that are backed by science to help anyone who drinks reduce their alcohol consumption. Our customers are never pressured to quit and encouraged to set their own goals to cut back.

That being said, we understand sometimes a little nudge and motivation can go a long way.

Here’s some actionable tips you can put into practice today to help you drink less alcohol. These tips were shared by Nick Allen, Cairo Amani, Christine Cockley, Stephanie Faulkner, and yours truly. 

1) Attending a social outing? Bring non-alcoholic alternatives. 

When I know I'll be in a place where non-alcoholic beverages will be hard to come by, like a summer barbeque for instance, I bring a cooler bag full of non-alcoholic beers, sparkling waters and whatever else could be a fun alternative. This makes it easier to fit in with the crowd by having a beverage in hand, without risking overdoing it when drinking. I've been surprised to find many friends interested in trying the stuff I bring, it's a great conversation starter!

Cut back on drinking

2) Communicate directly with your friend group. 

Identify the friends you tend to overdo it with, and talk with them about your goals. See if they'll join you in building better drinking habits or invite them to use Sunnyside so they can start tracking their own drinks. I have one specific group of friends who I know tend to push it with the drinking and it can be tough to find the willpower to slow down. These friends have ultimately become my Sunnyside team, and we all work on keeping each other in check when we're together.

3) Build new after work routines.

These micro routines can be simple, like making a hot cup of tea right when you sign off for the day, or going for a walk to get some fresh air. It really helps to replace the routine of drinking with another ritual!

4) Set a plan and try to stick with the same pattern each week. 

For me having a set schedule where I know that from Sunday to Thursday, I won’t allow myself to drink has helped improve my willpower and help me cut back on these days. I don't have to decide each day if I'm going to open that bottle of wine, I simply know it's a no drinking day and replace that behavior with another activity. It's hard at first, but becomes automatic over time.

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5) Start with micro-goals. 

Cutting back on drinking is a big goal and any large goal can be intimidating at first, which might cause us to shy away from even trying. Set yourself up for success by creating smaller goals you can track such as, "This week I won't have more than 2 drinks" or "tonight, my limit is 1".

Break your goal into small steps or micro-actions that are not only easy to reach but also move you closer to your larger goal. This will improve your progress but also help keep your mindset positive. It feels incredible to be able to say "I won", so create smaller wins for yourself to encourage momentum toward bigger wins. Over time, you'll have cut back on drinking by taking it one day at a time.

6) Set a daily timeline and keep track of your drinks.

I like to plan for when I'll start drinking, how many drinks I’m allowed to have, and when l want to stop. For instance, "I'll start drinking at 7pm, stick to one drink an hour until 10pm and then head home for the night." This way I can stop drinking once I start

Throughout the night I’ll keep track of my drinks using the Sunnyside app. The habit of entering each one as I receive them really acts as a way to stay accountable. 

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7) Cook a healthy and sophisticated meal.

It may seem a little bit out there, but I find that when cooking something that is both healthy and challenging, it feels like a two for one win. The reason being, investing in a complicated challenge that requires creativity, organization and attention to detail, but that you can consume afterwards really taps into your reward center. 

Because you need focus in creating something complicated, I push away the desire to drink. And since the meal is healthy, I don’t necessarily want to undo my good progress with empty calories. 

Plus, if I do decide to have one glass of wine with my meal, at least I know I ate first and was mindful of my consumption. 

8) Use Sunnyside.

Practicing mindful drinking has enormous health benefits and can keep you energized, get better sleep and feel happier overall. At Sunnyside our goal is to help you develop better habits around alcohol consumption and in no way feel pressured to stop if that’s not what fits your lifestyle. Building accountability and awareness around your drinking patterns is what mindful drinking is all about. 

Sunnyside gives you simple, accurate tools to track your drinks that you’ll actually love to use.Sunnyside members see big results in their first 30 days, and it only gets better from there. Start with your 15-day free trial, then stick with it if it’s right for you.

Keep reflecting on your progress

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to keep reflecting on your progress. Improvement and habit changing requires patience and consistency, but it also requires forgiveness. If you miss your mark, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, reflect on your triggers, and think about how you can change the pattern the next time. 

Growth takes many different shapes, but incremental steps can help you see your progress over a long time. Take the 3-min quiz with Sunnyside to see how you can start changing your drinking habits and to build your personalized plan. Over time, you will see just how your progress has changed, and it’s a very empowering feeling. 

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Nadya Khoja

Nadya Khoja is the Head of Content at Sunnyside. She has been featured on Forbes, CBC, Wall Street Journal, and many other notable publications. She has spoken around the world, educating various business leaders about building and executing scalable marketing strategies.

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