You don’t need to hit rock bottom to make a change

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Ange Chappel, Founder of Mind The Sip, speaks about her own experience with alcohol and her path to reduction.

It’s a common misconception that you need to hit rock bottom before you can start making changes to your relationship with alcohol. In my case, it was waking up after one very “long lunch” to the crippling realisation that something needed to drastically change. Nothing untoward happened at that lunch – in fact, that, of itself, was almost the problem. It was yet another event where it was all fun and games with endless wines over a meal, followed by cocktails at the pub, roadies in the Uber home, and drinks back at someone’s house. There wasn’t a moment of great embarrassment, nor regret for something I may have said or done (though I’d experienced that feeling too many times to count). Instead, in its place was the overwhelming urge for change. I knew, in that moment, it was time to take a hard look at my drinking habits and gain back control. It had been a slow burn, but I’d arrived!

So, there and then, I started by reflecting on my drinking patterns. How often was I drinking? How much was I drinking? And why was I drinking? I discovered that I was a walking oxymoron. I would focus on all thing’s health midweek, working out, eating healthy, no alcohol. But come the weekend, I would “make up for it” and overindulge in alcohol. This cycle was not sustainable.  I realised that my beliefs around alcohol were holding me back. I believed that alcohol was necessary for socialising and having fun, and that it was a way to cope with stress. But these beliefs were not serving me, and I knew I needed to challenge them.

I introduced alcohol-free alternatives and swapped out the real deal for their zero counterparts.  I also immersed myself in “Quit-Lit” reading other people’s stories of similar journeys helped me feel seen. I listened to podcasts whenever I could, journalled my moods, planned my drinks and connected with the sober curious and mindful drinking communities online.

I would gear myself up ahead of social occasions and ensure I was entering into an environment to truly connect with others. I engaged in conversation and was present whilst they spoke, not thinking about whether I’d like a salted or a chili rim on my marg, or who was the designated driver that evening. I would enjoy the food, the music, the atmosphere and really soak up everything the environment was serving, instead of waking up the next day with fragmented memories and cringe-worthy flashbacks.

One of my biggest takeaways is that it takes time!  I liken it to a gym membership.  You don’t decide to join a gym to get in shape and the next day wake up with a six-pack or a tight little peach (if only).  It takes time and work to get there.  Changing your relationship with alcohol is the same deal.  It takes time and practise to break the familiar habits and patterns that have been so deeply engrained.

I still enjoy a long lunch, and I still enjoy an occasional bevvie, but now, I wake the next day feeling refreshed and energised, ready to tackle the day ahead. I’m able to be more present with my loved ones, enjoy the little things I would have otherwise missed with my head under the doona, and take better care of myself and my family.

It’s been so gratifying bringing Mind The Sip to life.  Helping others like yourself on their journey to a more responsible and mindful relationship with alcohol, is the greatest feeling.  You are obviously here because you actively want to change your relationship with alcohol, my advice would be to start by reflecting on your drinking patterns and the reasons why you drink. Challenge any beliefs you have around alcohol that may be holding you back, and most importantly, be patient with yourself. You don’t need to hit rock bottom to make a change – every small step counts. Remember, it’s a journey, and every day is a new opportunity to make healthier choices. 

Mind The Sip’s recommendations are aligned with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines. Up to 10 standard drinks per week, no more than 4 standard drinks in any day. Noting that zero is always the healthiest and safest amount (moderation for some can be a slippery slope to excess).

Disclaimer: content provided is not to be substituted for medical advice.

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