Mind & Body

5 non-judgemental ways to break your unhealthy coronavirus lockdown drinking habits

20 per cent of Aussies have revealed they regret how much they’ve drunk in isolation. Dr. Erin Lalor from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation shares how to break the habit.

This year, many Australians will have spent around 66 days– if not more – in lockdown. Regardless of how we spent our newfound time indoors, the drastic lifestyle change was a lesson in just how quickly our daily routines can adapt and become a “new normal”.

Some of us learned healthy habits: indulged in self-care; cooked more meals at home; found creative ways to exercise. But times have been tough, and other new habits, like drinking more, may not be so good for us.

A new survey by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation polled 1,000 Australians to reveal one in five wish they had drunk less in lockdown. If you’re among them and want to reduce the amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking recently, you’re not alone.

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How to break the habit

#1. Create a daily and weekly routine for structure

Making a daily and weekly routine will help to structure your life and can offer distractions. Start to plan your days around something positive, like a daily walk or catch-ups with family and friends.

#2. Care about the habit you’re trying to break

If you don’t care about what you’re doing or why, you probably won’t get very far, or do it very well.

Reaching a goal is a journey. Take guidance and seek out support to reach your “destination”. Read up on the topic, speak to your friends and family for advice, and learn from your own experiences.

The more you care, the more you’ll know, and that’ll probably mean a better end result. Importantly, once you enjoy the benefits of breaking a habit, you’ll be less likely to go back to it.

#3. Reward yourself

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to lock in new behaviours. After making small changes towards breaking your habit, reward yourself!

Take the time, money or energy you’ve saved from cutting back your alcohol intake to do something nice for yourself. Regular rewards will empower you to stick at it.

#4. If you find it challenging, don’t despair – make it easier

If you set out to break a habit and don’t reach your goal, it’s OK. Be kind to yourself!

Take a step back and reset the goalposts to set yourself up for success.

Ask yourself, was your goal too ambitious? Did you want to go from drinking two drinks a day to one, but find yourself pouring that second glass anyway? Consider different approaches. Could you switch to a drink with a lower alcohol content, or buy smaller glasses that hold less liquid? Pour half glasses instead of a full glass, just to try?

#5. Know there are services ready to help

Finally, know there is lots of support out there. Making change sooner rather than later is always better. If newly formed habits, like drinking more than you used to, are impacting on your daily life, it’s likely you will benefit from expert advice and support.

Find out how your drinking measures up with an interactive Drinks Calculator and learn about the various pathways to alcohol support and advice via Support Services on the Break the Habit website.

Dr. Erin Lalor AM was appointed chief executive officer of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in November 2017. Find out more about the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s latest campaign at www.littlehabit.com.au