The Holidays Approach
Every year about now, as the retailers start ramping up for another holiday season, we too begin suggesting that the best gifts you can give to yourself and others is forgoing yet another 3 months of alcohol drenched events.
Let’s take a look at current realities. Halloween, once the province of little kids in scraggly costumes seeking an annual sugar extravaganza, has turned into the biggest “adult” binge of the year. How about taking the alcohol out and putting the real kids back in?
Thanksgiving too often turns into family fights and someone face down in the mashed potatoes.
Christmas? It too, as well as Jewish and other religion’s celebrations, turn into, at best, only vaguely remembered and embarrassing examples which most of us vow will not be repeated next year.
Of course New Year’s is time for one last binge before starting off 2015 with a firm resolve, glassy eye, and trembling hand. At least until the Super Bowl shows up.
This time of year engenders a lot of good intentions which never turn into action (see last week’s article on the Stages of Change). The holidays just seem to have too many ingrained habits, excuses, and co-conspirators.
But some of you have decided that this year will be different. October is booked and only the second week in November is open for one more brave, pre-Thanksgiving, client who’s decided to make good on last year’s vow.
Then there are the first three weeks in December, all waiting for those of you who, having survived the October and November debacles, decide it’s time for a December to remember – one you actually do remember – and not in the usual “never again” way.
Still can’t quite manage to envision holidays devoid of alcohol? Then insure that in 2015 you’ll at least start the year with a fair chance of keeping that annual resolution. Our January calendar is wide open and waiting for you.
Little Thinks Do Add Up
When we’re working with you we do, of course, work with all of the big tools that will help you succeed – as in Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works. But in addition to the CBT, assertiveness training, motivational and dietary considerations, we also ask you to take a look at all of the little adjustments you can make.
Because our lives are, for the most part, a series of predictable patterns, habits if you prefer, we can make change easier simply by altering some of these patterns.
Changing the route we drive home from work so that we don’t pass our favorite bar/liquor store can eliminate having to make the choice whether or not to turn in.
Moving our home computer to a different room that you didn’t associate with drinking and web surfing can alter the automatic-hand-reaching-for-your glass response. No need to slap it down.
Altering you TV/furniture arrangement may kill that association.
Changing the time you come home and when you eat can help with blood sugar drops that feel like alcohol cravings but aren’t.
Changing where you go out to dinner with choices based on the food, not the wine list.
Small changes do have a cumulative effect and in the struggle to counter ingrained choices it’s helpful to marshal all of the support you can.
Of course humor also helps as a former client wrote last Sunday when she remarked that, “I think of you every time I pass a gym and don’t turn in the parking lot. Haha.”
She went on to note that, “Thanks, in no small part to you two, I finally ‘de-friended’ alcohol. I’ll still drink a Bloody Mary on a long plane flight or maybe once a month in a restaurant, but we’re kind of boring acquaintances, rather than best buds. Feels like a big life accomplishment and a great blessing. Gracias!”
Her accomplishment can be yours – learn the “big stuff,” pay attention to the “small stuff,” and that problem friend will be toast instead of “a toast.”