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Dec 23

‘Tis the Season to be (Jolly) Careful!


Whether you are actively trying to limit your alcohol intake, or have managed to achieve sobriety in your life, Christmas is the one time of the year that remains a major relapse threat unless you remain on your guard.

You may well have become very adept at managing your drinking thinking, through techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and this keeps you on the straight and narrow during normal times, but for many of us, Christmas holds so many memories of skewed, distorted thinking where we associate good times and good feelings with alcohol and downplay or downright ignore the bad associations.

And whilst it may be relatively easy to control our rational, intellectual thoughts about drinking, it is much harder to overcome those which are driven by our emotions. (This is because emotional feelings come from a different, more primitive part of our brain, and travel to our conscious mind a lot quicker than our logical thoughts – but that’s for another article!).

The upshot is, when we find ourselves in situations which trigger these old emotional memories of “good times”, and we have all the social and environmental triggers around us to reinforce these feeling, the brain will tell the addict that they need the alcohol.

So before you pick up the keys and head off to the nearest bar, go through our 4 remedies to help you survive the tricky holiday season.

Firstly eat food. Ignore the demand for alcohol and feed your body with food instead. Problem drinkers are well used to using alcohol as a substitute for food, and a craving to drink can often be triggered by hunger. Take the cravings away and substitute it for a filling and nutritious meal. Eat small and often if you can – the best way to fight your alcohol cravings is to have regular meals throughout the day. Enjoy your breakfast, lunch and dinner and you’ll be surprised to find that the urge to drink alcohol gets less or almost non-existent.

Secondly, a temptation to drink alcohol may be a body’s cry for sugar.  Your body is able to source it from various foods including alcohol, so if you do feel the temptation to drink, try eating chocolate instead. Even if you do indulge a little too much on chocolate over the holidays, this is far less of a health problem than the alternative!

Thirdly, drink more water. Every time your brain screams out for alcohol, silence its demands with a glass of water. It has been recommended that a normal individual consume 6-8 glasses of water daily. You can still include normal beverages such as coffee, tea, juice but just up the quantity of plain old water. Start the habit of drinking lots of water daily. Buy a 2 L water bottle. Fill it up at the start of the morning and promise yourself by the end of work, that 2 L water bottle will be finished. If you do end up having to go to the bar after work with the boss, or with team-mates, your cravings will be far less if you are already full up with water.

Fourthly, get some exercise. Give yourself the burst of endorphins and the adrenaline rush through exercise. Try to take at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise a day. This will improve your self-esteem and increase your self-confidence. If you are bored at home and feel the urge to drink, go out and stretch a little and then go for a little walk around the neighbourhood. Get the oxygen flowing in the brain. This will silence the body’s urges for alcohol.

So keep these suggested steps top of mind, and try them out should an emergency situation arise. Do not give up all your good work just because you are seduced by old feelings and old memories, triggered by a few corny Christmas tunes, and the mass commercialised hysteria that Christmas has become . It is up to others if they decide to overindulge and act the fool – just don’t be tempted to join them!

Remember, the best things in life are the ones worth fighting for and taking control of your drinking, and ultimately, taking control of your life, is one of them…

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kick-the-drink.co.uk/archives/1954

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