The three-step approach outlined below will help you to work out how you can say no – and manage your alcohol intake not just this month, but beyond into the rest of the year.

Step 1: Becoming aware – Hello Sunday morning

Hello Sunday Morning is an app that helps you monitor your drinking and your relationship with alcohol – to become aware of how you currently behave.

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You simply check in once per week to see how much alcohol you consumed, assess your mood, and work out how you feel about alcohol.

The app plots the changes over time, so you can easily see the relationship between these three elements and become more aware of how alcohol (or alcohol abstinence) affects you and your life. At the beginning of this month download the app.

Check in on every Sunday in January – 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Step 2: Notice your triggers

Writing down what happens in your life each day can help you uncover the triggers for drinking – or not drinking.

Grab an exercise book that you can use as a one-month diary, starting on January 1.

Each evening before bed, write down: any times during that day that you felt like an alcoholic drink, what happened in the lead-up to that feeling and what you did instead of drinking alcohol.

If you didn’t feel like alcohol on that day, great! Write down what happened that day.

sober january_4Write without judgement, just observe your day as if you are an outsider. Notice what happens.

Why is writing things down important?

Most people are strongly visual. Thinking something is one thing, but writing it down reinforces what you have learned. It’s a simple and effective tool to help you change. Just a few meaningful words is often enough!

Step 3: Rewire your behaviour

Steps 1 and 2 provide the framework for understanding how you interact with alcohol. You start Step 3 in parallel – that is, every time you feel like a drink, have or do something else.

Other healthy things you can do instead of drinking include: 

– drinking a non-alcoholic drink, such as water, tea or soda water
– cooking something healthy and delicious
– being the designated driver
– going for a walk
– taking some deep breaths
– getting immersed in a book
– catching up with a friend
– riding a bicycle
– playing with a pet
– playing a game
– watching TV
– phoning a family member you haven’t seen for a while

You will notice that some of these things will end up in your diary (Step 2). You’ll be recording a trigger for drinking, and then noticing the replacement behaviour.

Putting it all together

No matter how you start sober January, you will definitely feel better by the end of January.

Take time out on January 31 to reflect on how far you have come, what you have achieved and how good you feel.

Flick back through your diary and the Hello Sunday Morning app, and notice what has changed. Notice all the times you said no, and said yes to something else instead.

How did that feel? What will you do in future?

Connect with Expert Melanie White

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