SKIP THE HANG­OVER FOR GOOD

AS WE RE­FLECT ON OUR HEALTH CHOICES FROM TIME TO TIME, WE CAN FOOL OUR­SELVES WITH EV­ERY EX­CUSE IMAG­IN­ABLE WHEN IT COMES TO ONE MA­JOR PLAYER: AL­CO­HOL

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | WELLBEING -

En­joy­ing the odd tip­ple is a so­ci­etal crutch that can de­velop from a “some­times” to an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence with con­se­quences. Have you ever con­sid­ered that down­ing a schooner of beer is equiv­a­lent to a gen­er­ous slice of cho­co­late cake or sip­ping a glass of wine is com­pa­ra­ble to chow­ing down on three fish fin­gers?

The en­ergy con­tent of al­co­hol isn’t the only fac­tor — we should also con­sider long-term ef­fects. Those that choose to live booze free or limit al­co­hol re­port bet­ter sleep habits, less mental and stress-re­lated ill­ness, a re­duc­tion of gas­troin­testi­nal can­cers and im­proved en­ergy lev­els. The myth that one or two drinks a day is good for you is just that — a myth. A study pub­lished in the in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet in 2016 shat­ters this myth and con­cludes there is no safe level of drink­ing al­co­hol. Each gram of al­co­hol needs to be metabolise­d by our body — and this comes at a cost to long and short-term health.

If you’ve been pon­der­ing the thought of giv­ing space to your re­la­tion­ship with al­co­hol, there is no way to sugar coat it. It requires care­ful at­ten­tion and aware­ness. Tak­ing own­er­ship of your habits with hon­est re­flec­tion helps mo­ti­vate the change,

but like any­thing you would like to omit, the first 30 days are hard. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

BE AC­COUNT­ABLE

Pre­pare for the change by telling anyone in your net­work your in­ten­tions. You may even in­spire your friends to join you, which will make things eas­ier. A visit to your GP can give you a clearer pic­ture of your cur­rent health sta­tus with mo­ti­va­tion to improve cer­tain as­pects. Call in help from coun­sel­lors if you feel sup­port would be ben­e­fi­cial. Just as food can be a crutch, so is al­co­hol. A diary that records your drink­ing habits along with emo­tions and ac­tions at the time of drink­ing can un­earth pat­terns you may not be aware of. One com­mon habit is sit­ting down with a glass of wine each night for din­ner. Why is it re­peated? Sim­ply be­cause you did it the night be­fore and the night be­fore that.

CHAL­LENGE YOUR MO­TIVES

Re­flect each day on why you drink and your be­liefs about how al­co­hol en­hances your life. A com­mon one is that al­co­hol helps us de-stress at the end of the day. The truth is, it cre­ates more stress for our body and mind to endure.

STAY ON GUARD FOR TRIG­GERS

En­vi­ron­men­tal trig­gers fuel habits — per­haps be­ing asked by a waiter at a res­tau­rant if you would like a drink or stay­ing back at work on a Fri­day brings ex­pec­ta­tions to so­cialise. These are all nor­mal parts of going through the process of self­dis­cov­ery and un­der­stand­ing that choices are there to be made. Cre­at­ing space be­tween the action and re­ac­tion is one way to help deal with these in­tense feel­ings. Paus­ing to bring at­ten­tion to what is an emo­tional re­ac­tion helps take the wind out of a rash de­ci­sion’s sails. Re­mem­ber there could be years of de­train­ing that needs to be con­sid­ered and you are rock­ing all your old be­liefs about drink­ing, so be kind, pa­tient and bring per­se­ver­ance to the ta­ble — it will be a de­ci­sion you’ll thank your­self for later.

If al­co­hol is a prob­lem for you or some­one you know, please seek advice from a pro­fes­sional or call a helpline. There are trained tele­phone coun­sel­lors avail­able in ev­ery Aus­tralian state and ter­ri­tory.

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