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This past August, my husband and I committed to an experiment with the intention to take a pause from drinking and see what happened. We thought it might help us do a physical and spiritual reboot, tune into our inner voices and find deeper clarity. 

The process led to many unexpected and surprising benefits for each of us, and while we didn't decree a moratorium on beloved red vino or donuts, it has reshaped how we approach consumption and it’s kissing cousin, indulgence.  


The holidays can be so rough. Everywhere you turn there’s an ask or offer to have an alcoholic drink, a chunk of amazing cheese, or a piece of something dipped in chocolate that probably would have tasted delicious without it. I don’t think abstaining in totality works for me, but when temporary abstinence or long-term moderation is a goal, just like any other goal I have to set down ground rules, boundaries, and share them with someone I trust to help keep myself accountable. 


While this article in Romper focuses on how to drink less alcohol this season, the steps suggested can be applied to any behavior or attitude you think you need to put the brakes on. Shopping? Eating? Worry? Negative thinking? Think about these eight steps below, offered by a variety of specialists, in order to get on the right behavioral path, 12 step meeting optional!


  • Write down your goals - Science tells us that to write down a goal is far more impactful than thinking about it.

  • Have a plan - Don’t go into the party without knowing what you’ll drink instead. I like to request my beverage in a wine glass since the act of holding the glass is satisfying.

  • Get a Teammate - Don’t try to make big changes alone, in your own head. Find someone who won’t enable you but will rather empower you to be accountable.

  • Go Outside - Literally. Fresh air reminds us to breathe. Walking creates space, and sometimes creating space from a passive aggressive family member we’d rather not see, or a competitive colleague who really triggers you, is preferable to an extra drink.

  • Visualize - Imagine the future before it happens. See, hear and feel yourself in the situation, successfully.

  • Train Yourself with a “Tagulator” - Literally wear a bracelet with beads that you move from one end to the other each time you do the very "bad" thing you told yourself you wouldn’t. The exercise brings attention to the act in order to give yourself an all-important moment to consider doing it differently. Eventually, you get to move the beads as a reward for taking the alternative action.

  • Forgive Yourself - Fall six times, get up seven.

  • Just quit, for a bit - You could consider what I did with Annie Grace, founder of the Alcohol Experiment. The program asks us to "renegotiate your relationship with alcohol" and take a break (or not! Just read the emails every day! No pressure!)


None of the above ideas will hurt, and maybe one or three of them might just help you navigate your holidays differently.

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