How to take a break from alcohol so you'll actually stick with it –

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It’s been a while since I quit drinking (a choice I made mostly because alcohol plus a panic disorder and clinical depression either don’t mix at all, or mix all too well), but I still feel awkward sometimes at bars, and experience the occasional craving after a crummy day. Generally, I feel more secure and happier without alcohol – largely because I recall that my times with alcohol weren’t always merry, and I feel my health has improved without it.

But what if you want to take a break from or eliminate alcohol not because you have a drinking problem (in which case, mental health counseling and recovery programs like AA would be recommended), but because you’re concerned about the potential negative health effects? Or what if you just want to take a pause to reassess your relationship with alcohol? Or perhaps you’re abstaining just for the month as part of #SoberOctober or a diet plan like Whole30?

Quitting can still be tough (if it weren’t, Sober October wouldn’t be offered up as a challenge). We compiled a list of mental health experts’ and registered dietitians’ tips for how the non-alcoholic can get started going sober.

Stand back and ask: ‘How does drinking serve me?’

“When we are looking to change habits, including non-addictive alcohol consumption, we need to stand back and assess how the habit is serving us,” says Kristin Koskinen, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “Are there components of the habit that we aren’t willing to abandon, like the social nature of having drinks? Are there ways to work around it? What are the root drivers that make the habit appealing?”

People drink for a variety of reasons, Koskinen notes, but “stress-management and social connections” tend to

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