“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
Alcohol After Work and What to do about it
When I talk to people they say that the thing they struggle with most is the habit of having alcohol after work and what to do about it. This can be a very challenging aspect of going alcohol free and the one that most people say they have problems dealing with. If this is you then you are certainly not alone, it was true in my case too except that my after work began at 2.30pm and although I thought I enjoyed those first couple of cold beers it soon spiralled into whole afternoons and evenings of wasted time.
This was one habit I was desperate to escape.
It is a habit if you really think about it. You come in from work, change clothes and reach for a drink almost automatically. My mother in law even stands in the kitchen holding her G&T with her coat still on.
If you are struggling with giving up your alcohol after work and what to do about it here are some tips.
Before you begin
See yourself enjoying an alcohol free evening. Visualization is a hugely powerful tool and one we work on a lot in the program, so imagining yourself going about your evening alcohol free and clear headed is great motivation and will help you get your head straight. I love meditation in the mornings so i would do some visualization which is where you imagine a goal, in this case not drinking after work, and see yourself in this situation, imagine how you will feel and play out the movie in your mind. Instead of automatically reaching for a can as soon as I got back in, I saw myself doing other things that I liked doing and missed doing but stopped doing as the alcohol got in the way.
I imagined myself going on a walk with the dogs after lunch and then doing the lunch dishes straight away and having a clean and tidy kitchen instead of slouching on the couch and getting pissed off at seeing the mess in the sink everytime I went back into the kitchen.
I saw myself helping the kids with their homework instead of getting annoyed with them when they asked me a question.
I imagined enjoying bath time and story time before bed instead of rushing to get it out of the way as quickly as possible so I could get back to my beer.
Most of all I saw myself waking up the next day feeling great and enjoying the morning routine and not shouting at the kids to hurry up and get ready because we were late, I felt like crap and was stressed.
It was nothing spectacular, I didn’t see myself hiking up mountains or spending hours in yoga, just simple everyday things without a glass in hand and feeling normal.
Understand the need for alcohol after work
Think about why you reach for that drink as soon as you come in. For me it was to separate the working me with the now it’s time to be a mum me. And then of course it was I’ve done a hard day at work, and the hard job of parenting so I deserve a drink excuse. However, this one drink to separate your two selves or give yourself a treat doesn’t stop there as we all know. Recognise the need and think what else will relax me or act as a break between my two roles? It could be 5 minutes quiet time on the couch or a quick breathing exercise. It could be preparing a fancy coffee after lunch or taking time out to have a dessert. It could be a game of football in the garden with the kids, a shower, reading for 10 minutes, blasting the music while you dance round the room – whatever takes your fancy try it instead!
Don’t glamorize that first drink
Instead of focussing on how much you think you enjoy that first cold beer or chilled glass of wine, fast forward to the end of the evening and remember how you usually end up feeling or what you end up doing. I knew that if I cracked open a beer straight away it would lead to another and another. By the end of the evening I would be stressed, frazzled, argumentative and shouty or just plain knackered, cooking a crap meal, longing for bed with nothing to show for it. By playing the movie ahead you can keep your motivation and not allow yourself to fall into the trap and end up with another wasted day.
Swap your usual for something else
What else do you like to drink but haven’t had for ages? Or what is it about your usual tipple you like the most? Try having sparkling water in a posh glass or swap your beer for a non alcoholic one. I have found my perfect non alcoholic beer and it is a cheap supermarket own brand so I’m saving some money as well as myself by switching. If you don’t want to try substitutes go for something else altogether that you like. If you hate juice or fizzy drinks don’t drink them as you will feel deprived when you needn’t. I am not a fan of juice or coke but I love tea and drink a lot of it. Since going alcohol free I’ve discovered a whole range of fruit teas and herbal infusions that I adore. Find your alternative and drink it with pleasure.
Avoid your witching hour
Whether it be 2.30 like me, 5, 6 or 7pm try and do something at that time so you’re not sitting on the couch, twiddling your thumbs and going crazy. This and the above might seem like a lot of work but it is so worth it and after a while, even the first week it will become so much easier as you begin to swap out the bad for the good. Do what you fancy that makes you feel good. Don’t feel guilty but see it as self care. Grab a book, tackle the garden, sleep, watch some TV, go for a run, meditate, cook. Do whatever you like to take your mind away from reaching for the fridge during these crucial moments. But, don’t do something you wouldn’t normally do and don’t feel you have to start a new sport, join a class or tackle the garage unless you want to. Taking on too much or forcing yourself to be someone you are not will cause unnecessary overwhelm and make you feel depressed or resentful.
Write it out
When you start the program, I recommend you get a journal to record feelings, thoughts and emotions as you go through your journey. Writing out a craving or a struggle is an excellent way to get your feelings out into the open, even if it is just for yourself. Dumping all of those negative thoughts, worries and internal battles will free you in a way you never thought possible. One of my students found that saying how she was feeling out loud and recording herself on her phone worked wonders as a release and she could listen back to see how far she had come and how much her feelings had changed. By the end of the program she realized she hadn’t used her phone in this way for over two weeks.
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Someone once said to me, ‘these are brilliant tips but I can’t go it alone’ If this is you, then don’t. Talk to people, vent, join support groups. We have a closed facebook group exactly for this purpose, people share their struggles and their wins. So if you feel you need to ask for help in the group at witching hour then do it, you are not alone. The most popular time for one to one sessions is between 5 and 7pm, so if you need to, schedule your session for then and together we will go through it.