The way we view alcohol plays a big role in our lives. If we over-drink, it’s not just bad for our bodies, but it’s also not good for our mental health, our relational health, and our emotional health. It’s important to try to have a “healthy relationship” with alcohol if we make the choice to drink. With the current coronavirus pandemic, more people are turning to alcohol to pass the time and even to cope with the climate.
In fact, Market Watch shared an article about how online alcohol sales jumped a whopping 243% thus far during the pandemic. People are turning to alcohol in a way that they haven’t before, and that can lead to some unhealthy habits. Though people aren’t necessarily drinking and driving like they might if they were doing their drinking in bars, it’s still essential to follow smart habits at home. Here are some tips for establishing better drinking habits—if you stick to these throughout the pandemic and afterward, your body, mind, and relationships will thank you.
Understand What Alcohol Does to Your Body
Your first step to establishing better drinking habits lies in understanding what alcohol does to your body. You won’t be tempted to lessen or abstain from liquor consumption if you don’t understand the way it’s affecting your body. We have a previous blog that delves into the different ways alcohol affects your body—read through that and then do some research of your own to see how even just one drink can change how you view yourself, how you talk to loved ones, and how it can unravel your body.
Keep Track of What and When You’re Drinking
Your next step to forming better drinking habits is to keep track of your drinking habits. This means looking into what and when you’re drinking, writing it down, and noticing patterns. For example, with the current pandemic, a lot of people are drinking more than they used to. It’s a good idea for them to keep a journal of what days they’re drinking and what they’re drinking. Is it just one glass of wine with dinner? Or is it three or four glasses every single night? The more aware we are of our drinking habits, the more likely we are to take healthy steps forward.
Measure Your Drinks
Similarly, a healthy step toward better drinking habits is actually taking the time to measure out your drinks. Many people think that they’ve only had one vodka soda, but the amount of vodka in the glass is actually more of a double compared to the standard drink size. Try your best to follow standard drink sizes so you can count your drinks accurately—this goes for wine standards, too. If you want to get on the path to a better relationship with alcohol, then you have to be accurate in how much alcohol you’re actually getting.
Set Goals or Limitations
Once you’ve discovered what your drinking habits look like at the moment, use that tracking to set goals for yourself. These will be more like limitations—you should strive to either drink less or drink smarter. Start small—maybe you know that you’re over-pouring your wine glass, so your goal should be to stick to standard pours. From there, you can build up your limitations; we’ve listed a few good limitations to set for yourself to establish better drinking habits.
- Stick only to standard drink sizes
- Cut down on the number of drinks you have in a night—if it was three, step down to two. If it was two, cut it to one.
- Limit how many days a week you drink—if you were drinking every night, switch it to every other day, and then twice a week.
- Avoid the liquor that triggers you—if tequila truly does entice you make bad decisions, don’t drink it. Know your limitations, and then follow through with them.
Take a Buffer Break
Following the above tips for establishing better drinking habits will definitely put you on a better path, but if you’re not following a smart “routine” then your habits could still be improved. For example, if you’re finishing your three glasses of wine in an hour, then that’s a good opportunity to make your drinking habits better. Think of it this way—give yourself a buffer break when you’re drinking. Don’t go straight from finishing one drink on to the next. Filter in a buffer of a non-alcoholic drink before you reach for the bottle again.
Don’t Forget Food and Water
In that same sense, do yourself a favor and ensure that you’re properly nourished before you drink. As you’ll learn in our previous posts, alcohol will affect your body more if you’re drinking on an empty stomach. Besides, it’s better for your physical health if you’re sticking to a healthy diet and getting enough water in the day. Even if you only have one drink a night, if you’re not eating beforehand, that’s an unhealthy drinking habit you need to fix.
Know Your Triggers
Your triggers before the pandemic may look different from your triggers during it. If people posting about them drinking on social media wasn’t a trigger before, it might be now because you’re spending more time on your phone. If you want better drinking habits, then a key step is to understand what triggers you to want to drink. Maybe it’s the stress of working from home without a break that makes you crave a drink, or maybe it’s the days where you have less going on. If you know your triggers, you can take the steps necessary to combat them and stay on the path of healthy drinking.
When You Crave, Find an Alternative
When you’re triggered, or when you’re craving more than your limitations allow, then you need to turn to alternatives. Think about it as ways to distract you from your craving. This can mean hopping on an AA virtual call or going on a walk and getting a workout in. It can mean putting your phone away and cooking yourself an elaborate meal. Make a list of healthy ways you can cope with cravings and put yourself in a healthier head space than you were before. Alternatives are imperative to finding a healthier relationship with alcohol.
If you find that you’re still having trouble improving your relationship with or cutting out alcohol, reach out to professionals. You don’t want to make any mistakes that you’ll regret, and professionals can help you get on the right track. If you do make a mistake—like getting behind the wheel or releasing anger in an unhealthy way—then reach out to Jared Justice. As a Clackamas County DUI lawyer, he’s here to help you with all the legal issues that may stem from a mistake made under the influence of alcohol. Drink responsibly, and reach out when you need to.