Not many people would know but Dry July is a not-for-profit organisation, which supports people affected by cancer. And the way they do it is by taking a month off from drinking alcohol.
Over 9000 people have participated in Dry July, but what research so painfully shows us is that the alcohol intake goes up in August. It is our way of showing that we made it through Dry July!
If you find that going through Dry July is hard for you, or that you go back to your usual alcohol consumption after Dry July, you need to get to the core of why.
Read on to learn 3 effective ways to not fall off the wagon and carry on with Dry July beyond the Dry July.
Get Clear on Your Why
If you want to drink less or stop drinking alcohol altogether, you need to get to the core of why you want to do it. Just to say that alcohol harms your health, or ‘I drink too much, so I better stop’ are not strong enough reasons.
They are good to get you from drinking that extra glass of wine or that Cosmopolitan. But they won’t move your body’s biochemistry needle.
One of the reasons that you drink alcohol may be your body’s co-dependency. This is of course addiction and needs to be treated by a health professional. Because you need to be prepared for the withdrawal symptoms.
However, almost all reasons why we overconsume alcohol are emotional. After all, you are an emotional creature, and your every behaviour is led by emotion. Yes, you make some decisions based on rationale, but after your emotions are aligned.
So, why do you feel like you need a drink?
Some reasons may be as simple as to relieve stress, reduce overwhelm, anxiety or simply take the edge off. But they can go deeper, and you may be looking for a way to feel loved, important, confident or the need to belong.
Once you understand the reason why you need a drink, you can start looking for other ways to fulfil that need. If drinking alcohol is your way to reduce stress, look for other ways that can help you with that. You can do a yoga class, learn meditation, and take up a new hobby such as painting. Or simply exercise.
If you suspect that alcohol is used to fulfil one of your desires, you need to unpack it further by checking why you feel unloved, unimportant or like you don’t belong. How else can you fulfil that need?
Look for Alternatives
Quitting drinking is like going on a diet. It is a very drastic step. Think about it. Most likely you drank alcohol until the 30th of June, only to go cold turkey the next day.
The jump is very big, and your brain goes into resistance. It starts with a little motivation talk about how great you are doing, and how you can definitely not drink the whole month.
But then it goes into the justification stage. After all, nothing bad happens if you have only one drink, right? And then you have that birthday party to go to, so it is ok to have just one drink there.
And without realising you drink more than you anticipated, and the self-guilt trip starts. Follow by negative self-talk about how you can’t do Dry July after all, and the whole concept is not as great as you thought.
This is all a normal reaction to any change in behaviour. If you do something consistently, it becomes a habit. And to break any habit is hard.
That is why you need to have an alternative to use instead of drinking alcohol.
Hopefully, you already unpacked your why behind the reason you drink, so finding alternative behaviour should be easy. You can mimic some behaviours such as drinking water from a wine glass. This way you recreate the whole scene, but don’t consume alcohol.
Or find a new activity that you can do every time when you think about having a drink. This way you train your brain to associate your need of wanting a drink with the new activity.
As a Health and Wellness Coach, I can tell you one thing about building new behaviours. You will relapse. Not because you are weak, but because it is in our DNA.
We are wired to survive, so we will always go towards the known. If something is unfamiliar to us, we will hit resistance. Once you realise that there will be a relapse, you not only can prepare for it but have a contingency plan.
If you know that you will take a step back, have a plan in place to rectify that behaviour. Sometimes it
may be as simple as a reminder, wrist slap or getting an accountability buddy. We are usually more ashamed of letting somebody else down, than us.
I understand that forgiving yourself can come hard. I am still learning how to do it more often. But going down the rabbit hole of feeling guilty or judging yourself that you are not strong enough won’t do you any good.
Remember that you always create energy. Negative self-talk will bring low mental energy and you may be doubting the whole process. However, if you admit that you made a mistake and forgive yourself for making one, then you create high mental energy.
Once you have high energy you can approach building a new healthy habit again and carry on.
How to Make Dry July Last
Whether you decided to do Dry July or not, reducing alcohol intake is a behaviour. And if you want to change a behaviour, you need to understand the why behind it.
The stronger the why, the more willing you will be to follow through. If quitting something is too much of a challenge for you, create a list of alternate activities. So, when the time comes, you can easily replace the unhealthy behaviour with a healthy one.
Ready to start something new? Get my FREE guide 5 mistakes you make that cost you energy in the morning. Once you identify the mistakes you make, you won’t feel stressed out and you will bounce out of bed feeling energetic and making healthy eating choices will be that much easier! Click here to get it now.