Have you recently decided to cut down on your alcohol intake? Whether you want to cut down by a little or a lot depending on what your regular intake was there’s no denying that dealing with alcohol cravings might be a little trickier than you originally thought it would be.
You may find yourself experiencing some powerful cravings once you’ve decided to put the beer or wine glass down a bit more often and so we’ve brought you a list of tips and tricks to help keep those urgings for alcohol at bay.
No matter if it’s early on or later in your alcohol abstinence journey there are sure to be some ideas here that will help you to distract yourself and keep those cravings at bay.
Talk about it
It’s good to discuss it, sometimes for some people just talking about your craving with a close friend or someone in your support bubble can help make the difference between caving or just craving.
It will depend on how severe your situation is but talking it through with someone can get you through a craving and out the other side without resorting to a drink.
For now, the craving is inside your head and this feeling, this urging can get stronger and stronger. LET IT OUT! Talk with someone, whether in person or via an online sober support network like Sober Grid.
If there’s absolutely no-one to talk with then write down what you’re feeling in a journal.
Advertisers will bombard us with the same message repeatedly to get us to buy what they’re peddling, it’s called “effective frequency.” It works! It works very well indeed!
So, utilise your living space and turn it into your very own football stadium and pepper it with adverts for your sobriety! When you go to the refrigerator for a cold brew or a glass of wine then you’re more likely to stick to your sober guns if you’ve covered the door with your own adverts for keeping your sobriety.
If feasible do similar things in your workplace, or on your lunchbox reminding yourself why you’re doing this and how far you’ve come already!
Set a daily reminder on your phone stressing the reasons that you’re doing this and use a sobriety day such as Sober Time counter many days you’ve achieved so far.
Build a castle inside your mind to battle these cravings and why you’re no longer a slave to this way of life and thinking.
Exercise is a great tool; it increases the blood flowing to your brain and will help you to learn and think with more clarity.
Got a craving? Clear some space and do some bodyweight exercises, whether press-ups, sit-ups, squats, or lunges or whatever you prefer, once your heart is beating faster and you’re sweating you’ll find that you feel better, and your head feels clearer, and the craving may have vanished completely.
You can grab the dog lead and head out for a good walk with your four-legged friend if you have one readily available or head out and use that gym membership that you’ve paid so much for.
Reset and retrain your brain to keep those cravings in check
Build Your Own Unique Coping Toolkit
There are different strokes for different folks meaning that people behave differently from one person to another when faced with the same scenario. Because of this we recommend that you build your own personalised toolkit for coping when those cravings come knocking.
Your toolkit can be an actual box or container that holds things like a journal, or a favourite book or a treasured personal possession.
Your toolkit can also be outfitted with tools that you can’t see as well for example, breathing exercises, meditation tools/mantras and other mindfulness exercises and techniques or your favourite yoga routines.
You are the catalyst for your own recovery and every step that you take helps you learn better ways to cope.
Obvious really but not necessarily when you have that monkey on your back trying to get your focus back on the drink.
Always keep a list handy, in a journal or your phone or stuck to the front of the fridge of distractions that you can turn to when you feel the urge to relapse.
Your activities are entirely up to you but here’s a few that we recommend:
- Music (put some funky tunes on, get up and dance)
- Hit the gym, do some press ups, or take the dog for a good long walk.
- Clean out the spare bedroom or tidy a junk drawer.
- Spend some quality time on your favourite hobby (or take up a new one)
- Read a chapter or two of a good book.
- Watch a sit com or some good stand-up comedy.
Meditating, talking with someone in your sober bubble are also very good distractions that you could try.
You may feel more stressed out and tense than usual when you begin your sober journey or maybe that stress and tense situations may bring on those cravings more frequently than you may care to admit.
If this sounds like yourself then mindfulness exercises can help to keep you grounded and your awareness in the here and now while those cravings dissipate.
Try physical activity like, yoga, stretching and Tai Chi and deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
A change of environment can help immensely especially it you’re fighting a craving in the very place where you used to succumb to those cravings.
Grounding techniques are a great way to keep you grounded, strange as it sounds! Try the 5,4,3,2,1 method where you use your senses to list things around you.
Start by listing:
- Five things that you can hear.
- Four things that you can see.
- Three things you can touch.
- Two things you can smell.
- One thing that you can taste.
Take time to notice the little things around you that you may not always be aware of like the hum of the fridge or the pattern/colours in the wallpaper.
Go to Sleep
Sometimes when you’ve spent all day battling your cravings and they still won’t leave you alone then the best thing to do is call it. There’s a reason that they call it a new day. Go to bed do some breathing exercises and wake up the next day or an hour or so later if you’ve the time for a nap.
There’s a great chance that you will awaken with the craving having passed and you feeling refreshed. And it’s much better for you than giving in to a craving and waking up with that dreaded hangover.
There’s no shame in giving up a battle earlier in the day as long as you don’t give up the fight!
Go back to Why?
Why did you decide to go sober? What prompted it? How much damage to your health or life has alcohol contributed to? No matter how big or small the effect why would you want to go back to that?
List or journal your reasons for wanting to get and stay sober and read through them periodically and focus on all the good things that sobriety has brought you and will continue to bring you.
Watch some uplifting talks on the internet of other people who’ve made that decision to get sober as well, it’ll help.
And that little voice that chimes in on occasion, telling you to cave in and just have a little drink? Ignore it, it’s drunk.
Above all remember how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved throughout all the internal dialogue and exhaustion of battling your own inner demons and what an incredibly, stronger person has emerged from those battles.
Cravings won’t last forever, and these battles get easier as time goes by and Sober Bubble is always here to support you from the very start of your sober journey to beyond.