Sober thoughts: 10 easy ways to cut down on drinking
Emerge from the booze-fueled holidays prepared
Never is there a more boozy time than the holidays. For whatever reason, be it that you're treating yourself or that you're spending far too much time with family members who keep asking you why you're single, alcohol is in the steamy, stinky air leaving your tongue.
Drinking is often portrayed as something cool and fun, but you have to figure out the not-so-glamorous weight gain, pimples, headaches, and the whole roster of other damages by yourself. The truth is that drinking can be fun, but it's not something that should be a mainstay in your diet.
You don't have to go completely without, but to kick the holiday habit, here are some easy tips to cut down on your alcohol consumption.
- Switch your standby drink to a lower-proof alcohol or mixed drink. Trade in gin, vodka, or whiskey for something like a flavored cognac with seltzer, and you can easily cut down half the alcohol content.
- Drink a full glass of water before and after. It can also be any other non-alcoholic beverage, but when you fill up with water you won't be drinking to quench your thirst, and you'll stave off any potential hangover.
- Cut down how much time you spend in bars. Find a new place for meetings with friends, dates, or business associates, like cafés or movie theaters, where something other than alcohol is the focus.
- Make it about money. Track how much money you regularly spend on alcohol and aim to spend half of that by putting the other half in a savings account (or any old jar).
- Keep wine off the dinner table. It's all too easy to keep pouring when it's right in front of you, so keep a pitcher of water on the table instead. When you pour a glass of wine, cork it and put the bottle away.
- Only drink when you're in a good mood. Don't be that old stereotype of the sad sap at the bar drinking away their sorrows. It's all too easy to drink excessively when you're sad.
- Identify a routine, and replace it. If you usually have a drink at a certain time, day of the week, or after you've accomplished something, try substituting a non-alcoholic drink, like a fruit smoothie, or doing something else like taking a hot bath or watching a show.
- Make a rule for yourself. Maybe it's never drink alone, or only drink at dinner, or only drink on the weekends, but the discipline of one simple rule can cut your consumption in half.
- Remember why you want to stop drinking. Write a list of reasons—it could be to lose weight, sleep better, get more done, etc.—and stick it by your alcohol cabinet.
- Learn how to say no. Not the kind of fickle "no" that gives in to persuasion, but the kind that is confident and firm. Saying no is also a great opportunity to explain to your friends/family why you're not drinking, which will make it easier to spend time with them in the future.
It's good to be strict with yourself, but don't take it too far and demonize yourself if you break one of your rules or end up in an alcohol-induced stupor. Cutting back on drinking is a process and, as always, moderation is key.
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