Lucy’s Top Tips for Managing Alcohol Cravings

 Pour that wine, you deserve it

It’s easy to know what’s good for you, not so easy to act on that knowledge. When it’s YOUR head telling you to do something (‘Pour that wine, go on, you deserve it’ or ‘Just have a slice of cake – one tiny piece won’t hurt’), then ignoring it isn’t always what you WANT to do. Sometimes, at that moment in time, all you WANT to do is give into that voice, act on it, pour the wine or eat the cake. When an alcohol craving strikes, it feels like a bona fide part of YOU, shouting at you to do as you are told.

 

Learn to recognise a craving

Learning how to recognise a craving as simply that, rather than a real need or want that is stemming from you (as opposed to your addiction), is the first step in powering through and sticking to your resolve. Here are a few tips to help you do exactly that:

 

Cravings don’t last long

Cravings  last about 10 minutes – set a timer, grit your teeth and repeatedly tell yourself that this is a very short-lived ‘want’ and after a few minutes everything will return to normal. This isn’t going to last forever.

 

It gets easier

Each time you ignore a craving and refuse to give into it, your resolve strengthens. This means that next time it will be a little bit easier to rebuff that devil on your shoulder.
The initial week will be the hardest because the benefits are yet to be tangible – stay with it until you see the rewards of weight loss, brighter skin, more even mood or better quality sleep; witnessing the positive outcomes of sticking to your intentions will spur you on no end, and you’ll begin to see them after just a few days.

 

Give the craving a name

Learn  to separate YOU from the voice of the craving – picture the owner of that persuasive voice as an evil witch, a little demon or a horrible monster who is intent on ruining your life. Imagine yourself sticking your fingers in your ears – block out the voice from your thoughts. Giving into it means letting that monster/witch/demon win, so toughen up and stick up for yourself by saying NO!

 

Keep healthy snacks handy

Keep a supply of healthy snacks close by to make sure you don’t get hungry. Whether you are aiming to banish the buns or beat the booze, this will help you. When you feel hungry you are much more likely to cave into temptation and reach for the chocolate or wine. Some good suggestions are dried fruit and nuts, toast with hummus or malt loaf.

 

Distract yourself

Distract yourself. Get busy with a task or activity, and you will keep your mind engaged in something other than thinking of whatever it is you are craving. Whether it is cleaning the bathroom, sorting out your wardrobe or rustling up some healthy soup, getting stuck into a distraction will make those ten minutes pass by all the quicker, and with much less agony.

 

Editor’s Note :

Some really good tips here from Lucy.  Other  tips include, making sure you drink plenty of healthy fluids, doing exercise you enjoy and “surfing”  the craving and medication as described in our online course.  If you have any tips  you would like to share, please do comment below

4 habits for an alcohol free life

My 4 useful habits for an alcohol free life

When I eventually committed to an alcohol-free life, I embarked upon a meandering road to wellness. The transition didn’t happen overnight but was a one-step-forward-two-steps-back process for a very long time. There were moments of pure elation followed by extended periods of grief when I missed my old friend, wine, terribly. But I’ve finally developed awareness with regards to what’s got me here, and to (of equal importance) what keeps me here in the land of sobriety and contentment..

1.Respect The Body

Exercise used to appear pointless to me because I didn’t appreciate the intrinsic connection between the body and mind. As a species, we’ve not long since left behind a fairly primal existence, where fitness was key to virtually every aspect of our survival from reproduction to seeking out food. Treating our bodies right is what nature wants and expects us to do, and the end result of doing so is that we feel immeasurably better.

 

2.Train The Mind

An inability to relax and overthinking were major factors in my old desire to drink too much. However, it IS possible to train the mind sufficiently to control cerebral over activity, and we CAN learn to select the thoughts to which we pay attention. Through adopting a mindful approach to life, I’ve come to focus less on past regrets and future anxieties and more on what I’m engaged in right now.

 

3.Nurture The Soul

When I drank, I did nothing particularly interesting with my spare time except drink. But since becoming alcohol-free I’ve been reinvigorated with a thirst for cultural influences. Now I like to broaden my horizons wherever possible in order to catch up a bit on lost time – travelling, reading books, watching films (which I can now actually remember), and by engaging in other enjoyable alcohol-free activities.

 

4.Turn Faeces Into Fertilizer

My levels of self-worth were on the floor as a drinker, and for quite some time after I quit too. So many embarrassing drink-fuelled situations had fed into my consciousness and I truly believed that I was a horrible person who was rotten to the core. I would never go back to my old ways, but I sometimes recall how I used to be when drinking just to keep focused on how much things have improved. This has enabled me to move on successfully from a regret-filled past to a self-motivated, confident present. It means that everything happened for a reason.

Living according to these four habits truly helps keep me balanced and happy. With such a positive state of mind, I no longer want to drink away my reality. I hope they help you too.

 

What habits do you find useful in controlling your drinking?

We’d love to hear your anonymous  thoughts in the comments below.

How Exercise Can Fill the Wine-Shaped Hole

exercise

 

Exercise Can Fill the Wine-Shaped Hole and Make You Feel Fantastic!

There are so many negatives linked to excessive drinking – increased anxiety, poor quality sleep, weight gain, financial expense, and ill health…the list goes on. When you stop drinking, you instantly claw back hours of free time and exercise is a great way to fill it – not only will it keep you busy but it will also benefit you in so many other ways. Any exercise is good (but please consult your doctor before you begin an exercise programme if you are unfit) although the thing that really does it for me is running. Here are a few reasons why I love this activity – something that has truly helped me in staying happily alcohol-free…

 

Stress Buster

I used to drink heavily to ‘deal with stress’ although, as we all know, alcohol actually increases stress. Running on the other hand, genuinely, truly eradicates stress.

 

Weight Control

I’ve never been good at watching my weight long term. I can do it for a few days, omitting the cakes, ordering black Americano instead of full fat lattes, but it never lasts and eventually I cave in and get stuck into a big bun and a creamy drink to go with it. Running means that I can maintain my weight, even taking into consideration those moments of weakness.

 

Social Event

If you’ve stopped drinking alcohol and no longer wish to go to pubs, running with a small group can be a brilliant way of meeting new friends and getting your ‘fix’ of social interaction.

 

Confidence Booster

Finding out that your body is capable of achieving goals once considered out of reach injects confidence, simple as that. I know that I am fit; I have the ability to commit to something and stick at it. I run in the rain and the snow and the wind and the cold – I feel fearless when I run. Running has probably been the biggest boost to my self-confidence over my lifetime.

 

Mood Enhancer

Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, and endorphins make you feel happy. Running is no exception, and I cannot recall ever going for a jog and returning home feeling emotionally worse than I did when I set off. As I have struggled intermittently with depression, I find the endorphin-boost I experience from running to be essential for my mental wellbeing – and it comes with none of the associated hangovers, bad moods or weight gain that alcohol used to bring.

 

Editor’s note

If you’re looking for suggestions check out the  Get Ireland Active website

Top tips for Managing Emotions (Booze Free)

I successfully managed to avoid feeling any emotions for the best part of twenty years. Every time I felt angry, sad, happy, bored or worried, I would have a drink. And not just one drink, but several. I saw a counsellor a few years prior to quitting drinking permanently and he told me he thought my emotional maturity was stuck somewhere around the age of fifteen – a petulant teenager. At the age of thirty…

When you first cut out alcohol from your existence, experiencing the full hit of emotions can be tough. Every feeling seems weird, and extreme emotions can feel really uncomfortable. Initially, sitting with these feelings can seriously increase cravings for alcohol because that’s how our bodies are accustomed to dealing with them – blotting them out.

The thought that kept me sober during the early alcohol-free months was that if I gave in and had a drink, I’d be right back at square one. I knew that I was becoming more adept at dealing with my emotions, and even though the biggies (anger, heartache) were plain horrible, I truly wanted to feel them. I wanted to grow as a person, to move on mentally from that fifteen-year-old girl who couldn’t cope with the more challenging aspects of life. Every time I found myself sitting with a difficult emotion, I tried to be mindful of it – to understand why I was feeling like that, and to treat myself kindly.

Here are my top survival tips for getting through the process of learning to feel emotions…

This too shall pass

OK, you may feel awful but it’s not going to last forever. Accept that the range of human emotions includes good and unpleasant, but all are fleeting. Go with the feeling, embrace it, and trust that you’ll come out the other side soon enough.

Get into exercise

I love running, and nothing helps me cope with unpleasant  emotions better than a jog through the woods. Endorphins, fresh air, escaping the demands of others…the benefits are many!

Feeling emotions is good

Feeling emotions properly means that you are growing as a person. You’re building emotional resilience. When the storm has died down, you’ll be a much tougher cookie than you were before it began.

Do  things you enjoy when you’re feeling down

Alcohol does not help you cope with problems or unpleasant  emotions – it just masks them. All you are doing by drinking on your troubles is avoiding the inevitable. Discover alternative ways to deal with tough times: a candlelit bath, a stroll in the countryside, coffee with friends, a shopping trip…there are plenty of things that don’t involve drinking that will help lift you out of a slump.”

Editor’s Note

Lucy gives some really good tips on managing emotions. It can be useful rather than labelling unpleasant  emotions as  “negative”” or “bad” to see them as motivation to take action, much like the physical  pain in our hand, warns us to take our hand out of the fire. Without that physical pain, we would leave our hand in the fire and get burnt.

Top tips for avoiding the dreaded alcohol hangover

While I don’t encourage heavy drinking, here are some do’s and don’ts for reducing the damage caused.
The classic alcohol hangover symptoms include a pounding headache, nausea, exhaustion, thirst and dizziness. If your hangover is particularly bad, you will be sweaty, your hands will shake and your pulse will race.
Unfortunately, so far there is no 100%  hard evidence on the solutions  for hang overs apart from not drinking but here’s a few do’s and don’ts that might help

 

Do keep hydrated

Alcohol reduces fluids in your body which in turn causes those horrible hang over.
Drink a pint or so of water before you go to sleep and keep a glass of water by the bed to sip if you wake up during the night.
Dioralyte which can be bought over the counter from chemists is specially designed to replace fluids quickly. So take this before you go to bed or even set your mobile phone alarm to go off early in the morning, drink the Dioralyte and go back to bed.

 

Do plan your drinking

Plan in advance how you will manage your drinking.
For example if you are going to a wedding, every 3 rd drink could be water and you could plan to spend time on the dance floor after every 2nd drink- without a drink in your hand!
Keep a bottle of water, a banana or light healthy snack and Dioralyte in your hotel room.

 

Do choose drinks with less alcohol

The number of standard drinks is based on the volume of alcohol in the drink. In wine it can range from 18% to 8% so drink a wine with less alcohol.

 

Don’t

Drink Carbonated (fizzy) drinks as it speeds up alcohol absorption
Use pain killers like paracetamol because it puts more strain on your liver and aspirin can upset your stomach.  Antacids may help your stomach if it’s upset
Eat nibbles which are spicy or salty as they encourage you to drink more.
For more tips on reducing alcohol harm why not listen to our short  audio or take our free lesson