5 steps to breaking your ‘after work drink’ habit

It’s a routine thousands of people get stuck in: come home from a stressful day at work or with the kids, kick the shoes off, undo the belt and poor a glass of wine or crack open a beer. Sure, this is a nice way to relax and mark the end of a day, however, when that one drink turns into a bottle, things can start to get out of control.

If this is you, don’t worry – you are not alone. Statistics from our Daybreak mobile program show that nearly half of our members drink after work.

Most of our members (90%) have tried cutting back, however, few experienced any long-term success in changing their relationship with alcohol. These numbers show us that it is HARD to break the routine once we have developed a dependence on alcohol to unwind at the end of the day.

So how do I stop drinking when I get home?

1. Identify the need
There are a few techniques we recommend to our members who are trying and break this habit. The first one is understanding what the need for the alcohol is at the time. In this case, the drink would fill the need of wanting to switch off from ‘work/mum mode’ and relax into the evening. When we recognise and understand why we are drinking, it can help us realise that there are alternative, healthier ways to relax.

2. Swapping out the alcohol
For some, a drink after work is a way to mark the end of the day. So this could still be done with swapping an alcoholic drink to a non-alcoholic drink. We have had feedback from members in our community who recommend having a selection of tasty alcohol-free drinks at home ready to go. Daybreak Members have also shared with us a great tip – pour your alcohol-free drink into a nice glass, so that way you feel like it is more special!

Alcohol-free drink ideas:
Soda water with lime
Apple Cider Vinegar and tonic
Seedlip and tonic
Homemade ginger beer
Kombucha

3. Finding an alternative activity
If you know you get home at 5:30/6pm and pour yourself a drink, you could try something different at that exact time instead. A good idea could be to go for a walk, as moving your body after sitting at a desk all day can help you feel physically and mentally better and more clear minded. If you find you don’t have the energy for any physical activities, you could run yourself a bath or find a quiet place at home and listen to a guided meditation for a minimum of 10 minutes. If you’re a creative person, you could start a creative project to work on after work like sewing or making something crafty. Our members have found it can be helpful to try a few of these different activities to see what works best.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support
There are a lot of people in the same boat as you! Online communities like Daybreak are a great way to have support at your fingertips. You could also follow blogs you like, and read up on Hello Sunday Morning’s blogs and social media posts, as they are created to inspire you with some great ideas to help you change your relationship with alcohol.

5. Be compassionate with yourself
It is not going to be an easy routine to break, so be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit for trying! It might help to set small goals like, “I am only going to have a drink after work three nights a week, and the other nights I’ll go to a fitness class or read my book on the couch.”

If you become overwhelmed by strong urges when you get home from a hard day and all you want to do is pick up that wine glass, it may help to try this exercise one of our Daybreak health coaches shares with people who need support:

Think of the ocean, the urge is a huge wave, you know it’s big and it’s strong but it will subside if you hang in there. The waves/urges will become smaller and you will become stronger, and in time the waves become even smaller and further apart and far more manageable to deal with.

This looks very helpful but without a glass or two of red after work, I often find it difficult to go to sleep. Do you have any suggestions?

After work is my downfall – I don’t stop at one! These are good tips, but the best is to get some support; I can’t go it alone.

Great advice thank you

I have found drinking non alcoholic wine has worked. I drink it from a wine glass and it has all the sense of wine without the alcohol. Not sure if that is avoiding the issue but I have been doing that for the past month and haven’t pined too much for the real thing.

I wish my husband wanted to stop too it’s hard when I see him drinking and I’m trying to stop any tips

This is so timely as just this morning I said to my husband I felt all my hard work during dry july just went out of the window! It is that time of changeover from work to home that causes me so much grief.

It took me quite a long time to break the habit but I found cold turkey worked best. I didn’t drink at all for 6 months and then just every now and then after that. This week I realised I had drunk 4 nights in a row (it was a long weekend)! It’s a slippery slope.. I have found that reminding myself over and over of all the shitty things about alcohol (interrupted sleep, eating crap, reduced ability to get up and exercise the next day, guilt, money, weight gain, shitty skin) is the most powerful way to stop myself from reaching for the bottle.

I did the 100 day no grog challenge and found that drinking something cold and bubbly (mineral water) for example helped the transition nicely. When you do have the urge to have a drink after work, recognise that feeling/craving, drink that mineral water, relax and after a short period ask yourself if you still want that drink now.

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