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How to drink less this festive season.

In the festive season, summer holidays or a short break away, the prospect of relaxation away from daily life without drinking can feel daunting. Parties, family get-togethers, raising glasses and toasting the season.  But if you tend to drink too much, then holiday seasons are super- stressful. Andy's drinking problem was an all year affair, but it spiralled in holiday season because there were more drinking opportunities and much greater acceptance of all day drinking. Here are 5 tips to reduce the risk of alcohol ruining your holiday period: 

Focus on the positives of drinking less

You will struggle to get through the holiday period if you are focused on the trouble that will ensue if you drink too much.  Instead try and reframe the issue and get really clear on what will be great about you not drinking too much.  Your brain likes positive messages much more than negative ones, so if you can visualise what a problem-free celebration period would be for you, it will give you motivation to avoid drinking too much.  Think about how much happier you and those around you will be -  you will feel better, brighter, healthier, your relationships will be under less pressure, you will remember more, be able to make the most of your time and give yourself every opportunity to enjoy the time if you aren’t drunk. 

Identify the danger points (and people) and plan around them.

If you know that the Christmas party is a risk, then book a cab to make an early exit.  If Uncle Steve is always topping up your glass, tell him you are on antibiotics;  if cooking lunch makes you feel stressed and anxious, delegate tasks and create space for yourself to get some fresh air or do some deep breathing.  It might sound silly, but creating ‘action plans’ can reduce the chance of you getting caught out and help you feel a bit more in control 

Use mental rehearsal.

Wait, what? Picturing the goal you are looking for can make the difference between achieving it and not.

Do you have a goal of a peaceful, family Christmas where you are present each moment? Do you want to have fewer arguments? More energy? To be able to enjoy a break from work without feeling like you need a holiday to get over this one?

Find a quiet place and simply visualise yourself achieving just that. Picture your success, feel how it feels, and take note of the sights and sounds. Have some real fun with it. Will everything work out exactly how you picture it? maybe, maybe not, but at least when temptation strikes, you will be ready.

Be kind to yourself.

It’s a time of year when we all pretend to be perfect.  But we aren’t and trying to live up to expectations is both exhausting and risks us failing and then the wheels falling off.  IF you know that too much time with loved ones has you reaching for the bottle, then try and create space for yourself. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect, just try to be present and enjoy what each day has to offer.  And if it does go wrong, don’t give up on yourself,  Be kind and remember that every day is a new start. 

Seek out support that works for you.

Holiday seasons often bring extra stress, so reach out for help if you need it.  Find a friend who will support without judgement or rely on the wisdom of strangers.  There are online communities like The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Facebook group which are full of people who are dealing with similar issues and often just hearing their stories can help you stay on track. 

Re-set after the holidays 

Once the holidays are over, consider giving your body a break.  It is the perfect time to spend a bit of time focusing on you and there are lots of programs available to help you, if you want to reset your relationship with alcohol.  The advantage of digital courses is that you can do them in your own time, in the privacy of your own home. To find out more about how changing your drinking can transform your life, join our free webinar or online course on quitting drinking

Follow these tips and give yourself every chance of enjoying the holiday season.

Join our Facebook support group to get help and advice for others in similar situations.

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Author of Sober In Seven and wellness and sobriety coach in the UK, here to use my own experience of overcoming alcohol addiction to support you on your journey to a better healthier life.

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