Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were holding her back

Are your beliefs about alcohol making you miserable?  Lucy talks about how unhappy she was, when she first stopped drinking.

The way she saw  it,

“I was different now. I was weird, a failure – a social outcast”

 

There were no positives for drinking less

She could n’t see any of the positives of reducing her drinking. She’d grown up in a culture that adored alcohol, so not participating in that culture was really hard.

She had decided not to drink at all as she could never have just one or two. But she really wanted to drink. She saw it a part of a fun and happy life. Yes, there were health gains, but who wants to live longer if life is so rotten?

 

Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were making her miserable

The problem lay in Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol. She believed

1)    Alcohol makes you attractive

2)    Alcohol makes you successful

3)    Alcohol makes you cool

4)    Alcohol provides you with a better social life

5)    Alcohol transforms you into a rebel

6)    Alcohol helps you deal with stress

 

Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were wrong

When you look at each of Lucy’s beliefs you can see they are actually incorrect. Lucy realised they were lies. For example

  • Alcohol does not make you more attractive. In fact who has n’t been turned off by a drunken approach?
  • Alcohol is much more likely to get in the way of your success. Whether it’s about being a successful parent (who needs a hangover when dealing with an energetic toddler or driving the teenager to GAA practise.)  Or an important early morning business meeting when you’re tired because you stayed up drinking.

 

A better social life?

You can argue that in Ireland, social life does revolve around the pub. If you don’t drink it’s get absolutely boring listening to other drunken conversations. But do you really want your social life to revolve around drunken conversations? There are other options, which we’ve written about here

 

What are your beliefs about alcohol?

So if you’re going to be in control of your drinking, it’s really important to be aware of your beliefs about alcohol and see if they are true. Writing these down can be really helpful. You might also find our course here useful  in identifying your pros and cons of drinking.

Lucy’s full post is well worth reading and can be seen here .They also have a really nice range of clothing  and goods for people who want to show they are in control of their drinking. Click here for their shop.

Low alcohol drinks can help reduce your drinking

We previously looked at using low alcohol drinks in this post here. In this post, we’ll look at some of the low alcohol drinks actually available.

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of each person understanding and picking the right approach for them. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work and social factors. Your own feelings  and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

So whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right for you is a decision only you can make.You might find these questions here helpful for making your decision.

Here’s a selection of some of the low alcohol drinks available

 

Alcohol free wines

First up is Torres Natureo White which has 0.5% ABV 

Price is €7.95 – Available at O’Briens WineWineonline.ie, SuperValu , Tesco

Gaby served this wine to her friends without telling them it had no alcohol and they thought it was lovely. She says it is

Fruity and mild, it has flavours of nectarine, yellow plum and a floral touch”

Gaby also reviews a range of low alcohol wines in her very interesting post here. These include

  • Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate
  • Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
  • Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
  • G.D.Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2015

Gaby also tells you how much these wines cost and where you can buy them, so well worthwhile looking at her post here.

 

Aldi Featherweight range

Aldil launched the  Featherweight range which include a choice of Pinot Grigio or White Zinfandel in Irish stores in January. These wines retail for just €4.49 and have half the calories of other wines. Unfortunately they’ve just been withdrawn, I’m not sure why.

 

Alcohol free Beers

Alcohol free beers have come a long way. New beers are launching regularly. However many of them are not available in Ireland. Some beers still taste awful and most people believe they don’t taste like the real thing. But if you’re under pressure to be seen drinking they might be an option. I like  alcohol free Erdinger(alkoholfrei ) but it is very gassy so I can never drink more than one.

Some of the newer beers are getting better reviews.

Heineken recently launched the Heineken 0.0 which has no alcohol.

Also launched recently is a lager- Pure Brew from Diageo which has 0.05% volume. They claim

In independent taste tests, over 70 per cent of people were surprised to discover that they were trying a non-alcoholic beer after tasting it.”

The recommended pub price is €3.50 a bottle.

 

 Other low  alcohol drinks

If you can’t find any low alcohol drink that you like, you might want to try the Alcohol Free shop. They’re getting great reviews online. They sell a wide range of low alcohol drinks including beers, wines, spirits and cocktails. They ship to Ireland with a minimum order of 6 bottles which can be all different. They’ve  put together mixed cases so you don’t even have to choose. Click here for their website.

 

Low alcohol drinks can be a good option

There is certainly still some way to go before the range of alcohol free drinks matches their alcohol versions.  In England there’s a much wider range available with lower prices.

However the newer drinks are worth trying and can be a useful part of your tool kit for reducing your drinking.

If you’d like to find out more about reducing alcohol harm please click here.

Are low alcohol drinks worth trying?

We covered alcohol free and low alcohol drinks previously, but there’s been a lot of developments, so it’s worth revisiting.

There’s huge interest in the sector now. Awareness of alcohol harm is growing, so the alcohol industry see it as one of the future  growth sectors. Irish  sales are now up to €10 million. Still tiny as part of the overall market, but going in the right direction and new drinks are being developed all the time.

 

What is low alcohol?

It’s actually very confusing as different labelling regulations apply in different countries. In most EU countries, drinks containing up to 0.5% alcohol are classified as “alcohol free”

While this may seem strange, when you know ripe fruit such as bananas have a trace of alcohol it makes more sense.

Drinks that contain no alcohol at all, are called “non-alcoholic” drinks.

England labels low alcohol drinks as more than 0.5% alcohol but  no more than 1.2%

 

What are the Irish regulations?

Strangely we could not find any. You can see the empty  screen on alcohol  from the Food Safety Authority website below.

low alcohol

 

Plenty of guidelines though  protecting the  alcohol industry, You can see below details of  laws protecting brewers from competition, by controlling what  brewers can put on labels.

low alcohol

 

When we got onto the Food Safety Authority, they stated alcohol labelling for consumers, was a matter for the Department of Health. We could not find any guidelines to protect consumers there either.

 

No regulations to protect our health!

According to Alcohol Action Ireland there is no labelling provisions for alcoholic beverages above 1.2% apart from the fact these products must display volume, ABV, as well as producer matters such as name and country of origin.

Proposals for labelling alcohol are currently being discussed at EU level and you can see Alcohol Action Ireland’s submission here. Again, alcohol industry lobbying has slowed this whole process down.

Currently washing machine powder has more warning labels than alcohol!

So a product that kills 3 people a day has no warning labels! It shows once again,  how  so many people end up drinking too much. Alcohol harm is not being given the attention it deserves.

 

Can low alcohol drinks help manage drinking?

As Lucy says there are very mixed views on this.  I have n’t found any reliable scientific research so far but views seem to fall into two camps.

People who have past experience of drinking too much or a  physical dependence on alcohol are probably better avoiding low alcohol drinks as it creates too much temptation to drink again. This camp think even trifles with sherry in them should not be eaten.

The other group think  people without a physical dependence on alcohol can use low alcohol drinks as a way to drink less.

Personally, I think it’s more complex than this.

What’s right for you?

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of understanding what the right approach is for each person. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work, family and social factors. Your own motivation and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

The important thing is to get started. Whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right is a decision only you can make.

In a future post we’ll  look at  some of the more popular alcohol free drinks from wine to beer.

Note 

If you found this post interesting, you might find Lucy’s views here on whether  not drinking at all or drinking less useful

Life tips from a concentration camp on reducing drinking

A few people asked about our  reducing drinking post last week. That maybe we were encouraging people to be Pollyanna. Older readers will remember Pollyanna as a book later adapted into films where a young girl called Pollyanna had this really positive and happy approach to life.

 

What’s wrong with Pollyanna?

So yes, Pollyanna could be sickly sweet, but what is wrong with being grateful for the little things in life? The opposite approach to ignore all the nice little things, and how does that help? Being grateful for the little things in life, has lots of benefits and even improves our  mental health

A very famous book, written in a concentration camp showed  how we interpret what happens us  can even make the difference between life and death.

 

The search for meaning

Victor Frankl wrote one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read called.

“Man’s search for meaning”

A prisoner in a concentration camp, he observed how different prisoners, guards and himself behaved in this awful situation. He then came to a number of conclusions on why some prisoners died and others survived. Many of his conclusions can be helpful in  when trying to reduce drinking.

 

Changing a situation

Victor writes

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

With our drinking culture, it can be very difficult to control our drinking. It can feel like a helpless situation. We can feel “why us”, when everybody else goes on drinking merrily.  But rather getting down and feeling helpless, we need to accept this is the way it is. We find it difficult to control our drinking. So we should look at what we can do to change things. We’ve discussed  ways of dealing with this from drinking low alcohol drinks, to new social activities, to saying No to friends.

As Victor says

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms,—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

So if Victor can do this in the horrific concentration camp situation, it can inspire us to take action and go against social norms.

 

Don’t aim for success

The traditional way of managing success is to count the number of days a person has stayed off the drink.

“I’m 100 days sober, or I’m 100 days AF” (Alcohol free)

If someone has one drink, then they’re back to zero days. So many people who  lose their “success” in controlling drink, by having one drink  then go on an almighty binge. They say something like

“Sure if I have one, I may as well finish off the whole bottle” 

Then they next day, they wake up hungover, feeling ashamed and guilty.

On the issue of success, Victor says

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

So unless it is helping  you, don’t focus on  the number of days, you’ve not had a drink as a “success”.

Do set goals for your drinking as we’ve described here, but don’t measure your success solely on these goals. Try to have a purpose outside of yourself, this could be anything from

  • Helping out with your elderly parents
  • Supporting your children’s GAA club
  • Helping the new young employee settle in to work
  • On your daily commute, listening  to a podcast  about an area or hobby  that interests you.

 

Can a concentration camp book really help in reducing drinking?

A concentration camp experience is so far beyond what most of us will ever experience. Hopefully there will never again be such a massive production factory of pure evil.

The book may seem to have no relevance to reducing drinking. But reducing drinking is not just a physical act. In our alcohol soaked culture, it requires a different attitude and a willingness to be an “outsider” to normal social culture as Simon describes so well here.

The conclusions Victor draws, which later became the basis of a new field of psychotherapy can be really helpful in trying to make sense of our lives. Making sense of our lives can help in reducing drinking.  This book really helped me, I hope it helps you.

Many public libraries have copies of this small book, which has been read by millions. It’s well worth reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being grateful can make you happier and help manage your drinking

Being grateful can really help when we’re trying to manage our drinking. It can be very easy to get totally negative about trying to reduce our drinking.

“Everybody else can drink normally, why can’t I?

“Why do my friends make it so difficult to not to drink?”

“I have no social life, now that I’m not drinking”

“Why am I finding it so difficult to control my drinking”?

So how to stop getting into the cycle of negativity? Here’s a few tips.

 

Being grateful that you’re trying to reduce your drinking

I know this sounds crazy, after all in our alcohol obsessed society, this is pretty challenging. But if you’re trying to reduce your drinking, you actually have more awareness of alcohol harm than most Irish people. You’re ahead of the crowd.  The majority of Irish people who drink, are harming themselves according to the Health Research Board.

So be grateful, that you have more awareness of the harm that alcohol does than many Irish people.

 

Saying thanks

Many people have commentated on the Irish habit of saying thanks when we get off the bus. I always feel more positive when I say thanks to the bus driver with all the other passengers as I get off. Showing appreciation to the bus driver makes me value the fact that the bus got me to my destination. I enjoy this lovely nice Irish habit and it makes me feel happy. So saying thanks and appreciating what you have can make you feel happier.

Focus on what we have

The writer David Steindl-Rast argues in daily life, gratefulness makes us happy. Susan Jeffers states if we focus on what we have, we feel better. If we focus on what we lack our life feels lacking. So if we focus on drinking less as a negative we’re more likely to feel bad. If we concentrate on the fact that we’re great for trying to drink less, we‘re more likely to feel happy.

 

But I can’t pay my mortgage, there’s no wine and the kids are hungry

It’s really hard to be grateful if you’re in this situation as many Irish families are. I know one family in this situation. They had a really tough time and even lost the ownership of their house. But they kept focusing on the positives – their children were healthy, they had friends they could borrow from. It was tough and stressful. But they remained happy, because they were grateful for what they have.

 

Try to be grateful for alcohol cravings

Alcohol cravings can be really tough. It’s a major reason why many people don’t control their drinking. So why would you be grateful for them?  Well, try reframing it. See the alcohol cravings as a concrete sign you’re taking really positive action to control your drinking. Then alcohol cravings become a badge of progress. (Note, this assumes you don’t have a physical dependence on alcohol, which needs medical attention. You can find out more here)

You can find more tips on managing cravings  here.

 

Getting started on being grateful

A useful tip for getting started is before you go to sleep, think of ten things that happened on the day that you are grateful for.  These can be big or little things. Initially you might find it difficult but start really small. Last night my 10 things were

  1. I had a nice chat with my sister
  2. I saw the most  beautiful pink cherry blossom tree in full bloom  as I was stuck in traffic
  3. The building work for a downstairs disability bathroom for my elderly parents is going well
  4. I saw a little child laughing happily with her  Dad on the way to school
  5. I managed to get in a full hour of hydrotherapy
  6. I managed to get enough of the paid work I needed to do, done
  7. My daughter had a good day in work
  8. I met my new neighbour for the first time
  9. The garden bed I’ve not gotten to weed is now actually blooming with lovely yellow flowers!
  10. I managed to stay patient with my Dad when his hearing aids just kept making that horrible high pitched squealing sounds in the car (think nails on a black board )

So why not try thinking of your ten happy things before you go to sleep? It can help you sleep better and really make a difference to daily life.

When toxic friends make for toxic drinking

Have you ever had a really bad toxic drinking experience as a result of a toxic friend? You’ve been trying to reduce your drinking, but allowed yourself to be seduced into drinking as I was here?

Many people who have tried to reduce their drinking probably have had this experience. We’re told we’re

“No fun”

“You’re boring, for not drinking”

 

Living in a toxic allogenic culture

The reason we get this harsh attitude from friends is we’re living in a toxic alcogenic culture. Alcogenic means heavy toxic drinking is normal.

As Ann Dowsett Johnston says

“We live in an alcogenic culture, awash with cheap liquor, where drunkenness is normalised..

We’re swimming in an ocean of cheap alcohol. Our children are in trouble. Women are too. We’re medicating what ails us with our culture’s cheapest drug. And as a culture, we’re in deep denial.” (Link here)

This culture is so strong that even at events for doctors and nurses on public health, you can buy wine at the welcome receptions.(Link here)

 

Paddy’s Day makes it worse

Paddy’s day makes this sense of being an outsider for not drinking heavily worse. The level of drinking has got so bad the Gardaí even issue warnings not to spoil the day.

Thankfully we’re seeing some chinks of light in this toxic culture. Examples include

Nation currently caught between embracing drunken stereotype or only having a few

Public told to re-evaluate Paddy’s Day Piss up Plans in Event of grand slam win

Young Michael Fry’s Sean Nos send up. The Minster for Cans denying that he does not like drinking

Foil Arms and Hogg’s video at the Patrick’s day parade with the 10 year old being told to drink.

 

We need to feel connected

After air, food and liquids, the need to feel love- to feel connected to other people is essential. We know that loneliness- not having regular connections to people is a greater risk factor for poor health then even smoking. In England they’ve even appointed a Minister for loneliness.

This is why it is so difficult to go against the social norms which is to drink heavily. So looking at the comedy links above can help us feel less isolated when we feel lost from our friends for drinking less.

 

Friends may not like us drinking less

We’ve talked previously about how to say no when friends keep pressuring you to drink. But maybe the problem is bigger than simply saying no. What if the only thing you have in common with your friends is drinking as Lucy discovered?

This is pretty tough. At the very time we’re trying to get our drinking under control, we find our friends don’t want us to have a healthy lifestyle. It can really feel like rejection. If we’re also feeling guilt or shame about drinking it can leave us feeling pretty low.

 

What to do?

Ask yourself a few questions

  • Have you anything in common with these friends other than drinking?
  • Do you enjoy their company when not drinking?
  • Are they likely to keep nagging you if you’re not drinking as much as them?

If most of your answers are no, then sadly you may have to accept these people are not able to provide the friendship you need.   Don’t blame yourself for this though. The problem is with your friends not you.  Allow yourself to grieve and feel sadness over this, that way you’ll be able to move on.

 

What next?

After you’ve accepted the loss of your friends, it’s time to take action. After all, those hours spent toxic drinking now have to be filled as well. Lucy has some tips on this.

In our toxic alcogenic society it can be hard to find other friendships. So next week we’ll have some tips on this.

 

 

 

 

How to find your deal breaker

Last week, I talked about all the reasons why I found it so difficult to actually stop smoking and drinking and how I needed to find my deal breaker.

In this post, I tell you how I actually found my deal breaker.

 

I wrote down where I spent my time

I wrote down how I spent my time. Sounds simple does n’t it? This is how I found my deal breaker. Get a notebook or use your smart phone to record where you spend your time. If it’s possible take the next 7, 30 or 90 days to track what you are doing.  So many of us think we know what we do on a regular day to day basis. Believe me though, you probably miss big chunks of time that you don’t know about and what you do during those chunks of time.

 

I didn’t realise how much time I was wasting

For example, when I calculated how much time I spent smoking it had a much more significant impact on me than how much harm it was doing to my health. Why? Because I realised that it took me about ten minutes to smoke each fag. I puffed away about 20 a day. That meant I was sitting and smoking for about 3 hours a day.

 

I was wasting three hours every day

What was I doing during those 3 hours? Just sitting there, looking out the window. Wishing I wasn’t doing it. All the energy I was putting into making my family’s and my life better and healthier. However I was taking 3 hours every day to undo or destroy it!

 

I needed money

But here’s the truth about why I stopped smoking. I needed more money. It was that simple. I wanted to get my business off the ground and needed funding.

So one day I was standing in the kitchen. Leaning against the solid fuel stove warming my arse and smoking a cigarette. I asked myself

“where the hell am I going to get the money I need to launch a business.”

I knew the answer would feel uncomfortable as the first thing to go in any financial need is luxuries. Smoking wasn’t a necessity, it was a luxury. If I wanted my business to work and get that money, then the smoking had to stop.

 

Something had to be different

This time I knew something had to be different, and I had to decide how to to do it. I’d already tried the usual ways as I’d mentioned before. Nothing was working, so this time I had to get psychological about it.

 

This was going to be the last cigarette

I knew the cigarette I was smoking was going to be the last one. Even though I had about 15 left in the box. So I stood there and enjoyed every last second. Smoking until my fingers burned. I decided there and then there was going to be no big drama. No fanfare about how great I was for not smoking. I wasn’t going to tell a soul I was stopping. It didn’t matter. Anyway, to be honest, I think I would have only got the rolling eyes look from my hubby anyway lol…

 

I was going to do it, no matter how bad I felt

I just had to decide I was going to do it regardless of how deprived of shit I felt about it.

I walked to the back door and flicked the butt across the yard, watching it fly in the air, then hit the ground, all the while knowing I’d never do that again.

 

Stop thinking about the hard stuff

Then I got a piece of paper and started writing. My whole family was hanging around. Even my mother was visiting us for a few weeks. At that time, she was a smoker so I hadn’t picked the best time. But I had made the decision, so I was going to stick to it. I needed that money.

 

I wrote it all down

I filled the page with words that described the images in my head. The money I was saving by not smoking was going to get spent. A new laptop, software and other bits I needed.

 

My new life existed

I also wrote about what my life is now going to look like as a non-smoker. Playing with my children without being out of breath or having stinky breath. I wrote about my beautiful smelling home with no ashtrays and clean, fresh clothes. I wrote about spending those extra three hours a day gained doing online study and lots of other incredible things that were going to happen.

 

Everything is created twice

Everything is created twice. The chair you sit on to eat at the table was once a thought in someone’s head, the great thing about visualising anything is

“If you can dream it, you can see it. If you can see it, you can do it.”

So I got pictures of my new life on my kitchen noticeboard. It became a vision board. But I hadn’t heard of a vision board at that time though!  I told myself, if I looked at it every day, it would help me remember why I’m doing it. Guess what happened.

 

I’ve never smoked since

I’ve never smoked a cigarette since then. It has been many years now since I smoked. Hopefully, I won’t be ever wanting or needing a cigarette again. I have the technology I need to keep my thriving business going. When I wake in the mornings, I can breathe. My husband’s still in my bed but sure you can’t win ‘them all ha!

 

Find your deal breaker

My deal breaker was both my need to find money and the time I was wasting. Your deal breaker is probably different to mine. The important thing is to find what works for you. So track how you spend your day. Then start writing about the life you would like to have. Finally draw or find some pictures that represent your new life. Keep this somewhere, you’ll see it all the time.

 

PS If you find this difficult you might find our Pros and Cons of drinking course helpful.

Ten clever ways to calm down your stressed out brain

Your stressed out brain is screaming. We’ve all been there. You’re at your desk trying desperately to meet your deadlines. But your mind is like a pinball machine and bouncing from one manic thought to another.

Or your seven-year-old just threw up on the carpet while you’re on the phone trying to reorganise mortgage repayments. At the same time. your teenager walks in excited about the (expensive) school trip to Paris. You haven’t even thought about what’s for dinner yet!

Women are great multi-taskers, but bejaysus sometimes it feels like there is a demanding crying baby with two pans and a dirty nappy, screaming and banging around inside our skulls!

 

That bottle of wine looks tempting

Some of us will be aware of the bottle of wine in the fridge. We ride out the clock until an appropriate time to open the seal and have a glass or two to calm down our minds. This isn’t the best of ideas.  Alcohol has better effects and is more enjoyable if drunk when your mood is good and you’re not overstressed.

So what do the “sober” women of Ireland use  when they don’t drink alcohol as a relaxant?

 

Top ten tips

Here are my top ten tips that I’ve used myself (more than once!) to stop myself gaining bald patches or doing prison time for murdering my husband ha!

 

1.Lay off the Coffee

I use to think at desperate times if I drank coffee like a builder (hot and strong) it would help me focus and finish the task at hand. Coffee is great for getting you started in the morning. But drink too much, and all that happens is you get a tired body and overactive brain and heart. A scary situation if you’ve never had heart palpitations before!

 

2.Take ten deep breaths if you’re stressed out

At first, I thought, ya, meditation is trendy, and I love doing it in groups. But I always struggle to do it by myself on a regular basis and stick to a routine.

So I started with just ten deep breaths before breakfast. I slowly did more and more, and now I can’t start working without doing it!

So try taking a minute and just take ten deep breaths when you’re stressed out and you feel like your brain is about to explode.

 

3.Carry a little notebook

As sure as the sky is blue you can count on remembering things or coming up with your best ideas at 4 am. Or while you’re in the middle of cooking dinner. I used to get so annoyed at myself because later when I would try to remember what I was thinking, I’d remember….…nothing.

That would always leave me wrecking my head and trying to backtrack my thought pattern to try and remember what it was. Now, I usually have a notebook nearby. I keep a school copy beside the bed with a few pencils and biros. That way when a thought comes I can write it down and forget about worrying as I know it will be still there in the morning.

It’s the same reason I carry another little notebook in my handbag and glove compartment.

Or if you don’t want to use a notebook try using a note app on your smartphone. There’s lots of free note apps available.

 

4.Share what’s bothering you

“A problem shared is a problem halved”

Talking to some one you know like and trust can be really helpful.

Just be careful who you tell. Because as soon as you tell someone your problems you’re giving them permission to provide feedback and help with a solution.

Do you really want Janice from accounting, who you’ve only met twice, to know you want to tell the boss to shove her documents where the sun don’t shine!

 

5.Use a mindfulness app

I like headspace. This is something you can download onto your smartphone. It has been a lifesaver for me, especially on long car journeys with my family when I sense a disagreement about to erupt. I plug in my earphones and listen, oblivious to the arguing going on. It also teaches my kids to sort out their own arguments.

 

6.Sit on the loo

Listen to your mindfulness app. If that’s not possible stick loo paper in your ears and listen to the sound of your blood pumping around your body.  Count the swooshing sounds and don’t come out until you’ve counted to at least one hundred.

 

7.Use Grandma’s remedies

Horlicks, warm milk, a bowl of warm soup, stew, or potato mash. Anything that is recognised as old-fashioned comfort food. Modern day comfort foods like fast food pizza or chocolates will not help calm your mind. And every time I reach for modern day comfort foods because I’m stressed out I just feel worse afterwards!

Sure I feel rewarded for the few minutes the food is going down. However the ingredients in some modern foods can make you even more hyper and anxious.

 

8.Bake, sew, knit….

Just do something repetitive that needs some concentration. You will find getting your hands into some flour (licking the cooking dough from the spoon or bowl) will change your thought patterns.

Or the clicking of needles can be really soothing. Making something using our hands can really help us to relax and soothes our racing minds. Useful when you’re sitting in the car park waiting to pick up child number two from GAA and worrying whether your elderly Mother took her medication to-day.

 

9.Get up and move

Go for a walk. If you’ve small children put their coats on and pop them in the pram. Or if you’re at work tell your boss you think you’ve left your car lights on.

You’d be amazed how just breathing in the air (cold Irish winter air) can give you something else to think about. I promise you’ll feel great when you get back into the heat!

 

10.Play your favourite playlist

I stumbled on this once, when I was looking for piano music to go with a video. I checked out Spotify and left it playing. It’s my go-to playlist now when  I’m writing. It stops  the ping-ponging in my mind. Once you’ve choosen the type of music you like Spotify will then create suggested playlists for you. I use “Music for concentration” on Spotify. There’s playlists for different moods or you can create your own playlists.

 

Hope you find these tips useful. If alcohol craving is making you stressed out, we have some tips here.

 Be kind to yourself if you’re drinking heavily

In this St Valentine’s week we thought it might be useful to talk about loving yourself if you’re drinking heavily. Many people drinking heavily are unware. They don’t know they are harming their health or causing problems in their lives.

 

A vicious cycle

The really hard time is when we realise we’re drinking heavily.  We try to cut down but fail to control our drinking. That’s when the self-blaming and the awful sense of shame starts. Combined with a hangover this makes us feel awful. Perhaps our family and friends start giving out to us.

Often this starts a vicious cycle which ends up with us literally hating ourselves because we can’t control our drinking. We end up drinking heavily to bury these feelings.

 

Society’s attitudes towards drinking don’t help

So many of our writers describe how attitudes towards drinking really don’t help people drinking too much. Examples include

You’re pregnant, my friend screamed when I stopped drinking

Beanyweeny on how she felt forced to drink

Lucy says heavy drinkers fit in better

Do our friends make drinking less easy?

As a society we venerate alcohol, but once people have a problem with alcohol they’re shamed. Women who have a problem with drugs (which alcohol is) are  seen as having a personal failing as Dara describes so well here

 

HealthCare Professionals may make us feel worse

Valerie felt so bad she went into residential treatment. Four separate times.  None of which worked. This was n’t because Valerie was a hopeless case, but because she did n’t get the right treatment. It was all about confrontation and acknowledging how badly she had behaved. Valerie ended up feeling worse. Eventually she  tried to kill herself. Her 18 year old daughter Louise screamed in the Emergency Department they were n’t leaving until Valerie saw a psychiatrist. It then turned out Valerie had post-natal depression for 10 years which had never been picked up.

Once she got the right treatment, Valerie made a full recovery. She even wrote a book about her experiences  (Available here).  Lifewise would never have happened without Valerie. Valerie shows  no matter how bad your drinking is, there is always hope.

 

Be kind to yourself if you’re drinking  heavily

It’s difficult not to get caught up in unhealthy self criticism when drinking too much. But as Valerie shows this is just not useful. Our thoughts and feelings influence us so much. If we feel good about ourselves we’re less likely to drink heavily.

If we keep harshly criticising ourselves then we’re less likely to be successful in life generally.

So next time, be kind to yourself when you have a blowout.

 

Be a kind friend to yourself

Imagine you have a best friend Mary  who you love dearly. Last night she drank way too much and made a fool of herself. She’s now feeling ashamed and mortified and wants to talk to you.

As she talks you would n’t tell her

Yes, you’re a stupid useless twat who always make a mess of things”

As a kind friend you’d listen to what Mary has to say. Maybe it’s about

“She was feeling really anxious about the job situation, so she drank to ease the anxiety. so she could relax”

So  you’d discuss how Mary could avoid this situation in the future. There’s plenty of possible solutions. Because of your kindness and willingness to listen, Mary is able to talk  and come to a decision about how she is going to deal with this in the future.

The point is if your best friend Mary is feeling ashamed and mortified, you don’t give out to her. She knows she drank too much. So you are patient  and help her to find a solution to drinking too much.

So if you would do this for your best friend because you love them, why not do it for yourself?

So instead of criticising yourself for drinking too much, try treating yourself as if you were a kind friend. You might be surprised at the impact it has on your drinking.

 

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash