Taking a look at your current habits can help you live a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Sometimes we don’t even realise what current routines could be negatively impacting our mental health, or what simple steps and habits could improve our overall wellbeing. It’s time to break the cycle and understand the habit loop to see what changes you can make. Read on to discover things to stop and start doing to reach your alcohol-free lifestyle goals and care for your mental health along the way.
Take a look at your coping methods
Feeling stressed, anxious and depressed can seem like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. What do you usually find yourself doing when you feel this way? Do you have go-to coping strategies? Is your first instinct to stay home, sleep, and not interact with anyone? Or is it to reach for alcohol to drink your worries away? It’s understandable to feel trapped, and only natural to want to make these negative emotions go away as quickly as possible. To feel better it’s important that you understand how to recognise your triggers and symptoms, and realise the connection between alcohol, anxiety, and your mental health. This way you’ll be able to take the best care of yourself and avoid unhealthy habits that are only making things worse.
- Start by tracking your mood. Be aware of when you’re reaching your limit and need a break from work, projects, and personal problems that may be overwhelming you.
- Recognising your triggers can help you avoid and limit negative situations that don’t contribute to your wellbeing and happiness.
- Preventing little stressors throughout your day can keep anxiety from building up too much.
Expand on this by embracing additional healthy ways to cope—breath control or meditation classes can be excellent strategies. If you’ve signed up to one of our challenges recently, you can try out the online mindfulness course as part of your package. Whenever you start to feel stressed, stop, replace drinking with these exercises and tell yourself that you’re worthy and that treating your body right will help you feel better. If you feel like you may need some additional support, you can also talk to your doctor or health care professional about options such as depression medications to help you treat your symptoms and cope.
Surround yourself with the right influences
Taking a look at your social life can help you improve your overall happiness. Of course, getting out with friends and loved ones is very uplifting, but it’s important to be mindful of your social habits and circles.
- Be especially careful to avoid going to bars and nightclubs where you’d be tempted to drink.
- Be aware of your friend's behaviours and avoid peer pressure to drink—which might not only be coming from those you go out with but surrounding you on social media.
- Be careful of your habits online as well, and think about the sites you usually visit or the influencers you like to follow.
- It might help to block sites where you can buy alcohol, or limit your interaction with influencers who are partying and drinking frequently on social media.
Instead, start surrounding yourself with the right influences. Try keeping up on healthy living by listening to some podcasts (like the latest OYNB season, Stories of Transformation) or reading healthy and positive advice that can inspire and motivate you. And don’t stop there. Start planning out and taking part in healthy group activities. Find fun things to do with friends that don’t involve alcohol. Trying new healthy activities can bring you a fresh perspective and newfound happiness.
Focus on your diet
On busy days, you may find you don’t have much time to give much thought to your meals, and you end up eating the same things or quick processed foods. Slowing down and taking the time to focus on your diet can make a big difference in your emotional health. It’s time to start getting all the proper essentials your body needs to help you to feel your best.
Make sure you choose foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, healthy oils, and protein. This will help you to have a well-rounded diet that includes all the nutritional requirements you need. When evaluating your diet, thinking about the foods you eat is a great place to start, but don’t forget that what you drink is equally important. What do you usually drink throughout the day—do you go for juice, fizzy drinks, or alcohol? Instead aim to stay hydrated with water. Although water may not sound appealing, your body will thank you for it. Try making it more refreshing and tasty by adding some fresh chopped fruit or cucumbers.
If you do feel like you’re craving an alcoholic drink, stop yourself and try some delicious alcohol-free drink ideas alternatives instead. This will help you stay on track with your goals, and avoid the damage alcohol can do to your overall health.
Have a schedule
Having a schedule in place can help you stay on track, be disciplined, and hold yourself accountable for mental wellbeing and self-care. If you’re used to less structure in your day, take small steps and ease into a new schedule gradually.
First, understand your current habits. Do you tend to stay out all night long on the weekends? Knowing your tendencies will help you spot behaviour patterns and decide what could be worthwhile changing. Setting boundaries is a great form of self-respect. For instance, instead of staying out late and drinking with friends, how about an evening movie? This will help you break bad habits, but keep the social side. Not only that, but by not drinking you’ll have mental clarity and avoid that unpleasant fuzzy morning-after head.
If you need help with setting boundaries and planning, take a look at personal planning tools, like a funky diary, high-tech app on your phone, or a PDF planner to help you lay out your day and week in advance. This can help you balance your commitments and give you time back to do something for yourself, eg take a stress-relieving yoga class, curl up with a book, play a musical instrument, or anything that makes you feel good.
Caring for your overall health and wellness will become easier as you go. Habits at first can seem hard to break. But slowly starting to replace them with healthy ones will help you t empower yourself. Staying focused, dedicated, and optimistic can help you create habits that will last, and that eventually become second nature in your daily life.