Toolbox 101: Tools to manage habitual evening drinking

alcohol-free bigdrinkrethink journaling mindful drinking moderation sobercurious witching hour Mar 24, 2024

Rethinking your evening ritual: a toolbox for cutting back on alcohol

Welcome back to my corner of the internet where I’m pulling together some more tools to tackle the themes within the last few episodes of The Big Drink Rethink podcast. First my episode with Howard from Salcombe Distilling Co, when we looked at the role alcohol-free spirits can play in our lives. And then the episode with Maryanne Taylor, to coincide with World Sleep Day. ‘Mindful evening habits’ felt like a connecting thought, so here we have some tools to mindfully manage habitual evening drinking.

The ‘witching hour’

We all have that moment in the evening – I call it the "witching hour" – when the craving for a drink feels almost as natural as drawing breath. This is when your resolve is truly tested, and your habits come to the forefront. In fact it’s the time when we can find ourselves on autopilot, with a drink in hand, without even thinking about it. On the podcast, I explain how identifying this pivotal time could be the first step to creating meaningful change. The true magic isn't in resisting the urge but transforming it into something better.

The power of journaling

I've learned that sobriety isn't just about saying 'no' to alcohol; it's about saying 'yes' to a whole host of other things – things that feed the soul. Journaling is one such nourishment. It's such a simple tool, and yet it allows us to navigate the complexity of our emotions and the tangle of our thoughts. In this episode, I shared some prompts to help support you with evening reflections because the idea of using writing as a compass for your sober curious journey is one I have personally found insightful and transformative.

Swapping your evening tipple

We've been conditioned to associate relaxation and reward with an alcoholic drink. However, the narrative can be shifted and it starts with small changes. I began experimenting with drinking two full glasses of water when the urge to drink gripped me - and it does really help. It’s certainly more thirst quenching than alcohol (which truth be told dehydrates rather than hydrates) so it can eliminate ‘I’m thirsty’ as the rationale for an alcoholic drink. I also started cosying up with herbal teas and alcohol-free options which turned out to be a great alternative to my habitual glass of wine.

Routines reimagined

Your ‘witching hour’ provides the focus for change within your evening routine. I painted this picture on the show and I believe it wholeheartedly: we need to craft our own sober sanctuaries. This is where different strokes for different folks come into play. Be it a bath surrounded by candles, losing yourself in your favourite album or ditching screen time to reclaim "me time," it’s all about creating a buffer against the habit of reaching for a drink.

However busy you are and whatever obligations you have towards other people, subtle changes can often be made to the order of events within your evening (if not the events themselves). 

Parenting without wine 

For those of us with little ones, there’s an extra layer of responsibility – the imperative to be fully present. Adjusting meal times, involving yourself in their playful world, and maybe – just maybe – not associating their bedtime with the time you can finally drink, can all realign your perspective and relationship with alcohol. It certainly has for me.

The journey of redefining my evenings without booze has been an eye-opener. I've found joy in unwinding without alcohol and discovered that non-alcoholic drinks can be a satisfying alternative. It’s never too late to rethink your own habits and change your evening routines for good. 

Join me on The Big Drink Rethink podcast and let’s continue to rethink the way we drink. You can listen to and follow the show through this link.

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