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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

Maybe you want to avoid those nasty hangovers. Perhaps you’d like to lose a little weight. Or maybe you’re simply concerned about the amount you’ve been drinking during the pandemic. All of the above are good reasons to cut back on alcohol, even if you’re not ready to abstain entirely.

Some of the most compelling reasons to curtail your alcohol consumption are the health benefits. Your sleep should improve, since you’ll be spending more time in the deep, restorative REM state. Your mood should lighten without so much alcohol interfering with your neurotransmitters. Alcohol consumption is linked to many kinds of cancers, so the less you drink, the lower your chance of developing one of them. While regular heavy drinking can lead to sustained high blood pressure, this is reversible and can improve within about a month of cutting back. And these are just a few of the many benefits of dialing back on the drinks.

Ready to give it a try? Here are our top tips for drinking less while still enjoying your life.

Partake in a Podcast
If you’re looking for motivation, listening to other people’s experiences dealing with alcohol can be invaluable. One of our favorite podcasts is The Bubble Hour, where people share insights into how they’ve been able to overcome their drinking problems, along with some great tips on sober socializing. Another top pick is How I Quit Alcohol. Geared toward people who want to quit entirely, as well as those who simply want to drink less, it features discussions with ex-binge drinkers, alcoholics in recovery, alcohol counselors and other people who share their experiences getting sober.

Read a Book
For practical advice, Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life by Rosamund Dean is a good place to begin. Dean offers a solid, four-step plan for cultivating a new, healthy and more mindful relationship with alcohol. Another worth checking out is Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol by Ruby Warrington. Inspiring, timely and blame-free, Warrington seeks to answer the question: How different would our lives be if we stopped drinking on autopilot? There are also some fascinating books about people’s complicated relationships with alcohol. One of our favorites is Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic, a hilarious and heartbreaking tale in which the author gives us an unflinching look at her life before she abandoned alcohol and a brutally honest reflection on her sobriety.

Down a Mocktail
Many people still want to imbibe something celebratory even while abstaining from alcohol. Alcohol-free mocktail recipes have arisen to address this need — such as the lovely Tea-Totaler’s Toddy and the refreshing Maple-Ginger Cider Switchel. Mocktails are becoming so popular these days, there are even entire bars dedicated to them. Sans Bar just might be the biggest name in alcohol-free bar concepts right now, with its permanent location in Austin and pop-ups in cities like Los Angeles, Portland and St. Louis. These bars offer alcohol-free libations in convivial environments that foster community, as well as an array of zero-proof virtual events. So, with the abundance of alcohol-free options these days, and the allure of avoiding a hangover, consider opting for a mocktail for plenty of cheers without the morning-after tears.

Consider a “Sober Curious” Retreat
Most of the more established retreat centers now offer sober and “sober curious” programming. We particularly like the retreats organized by Recovery Elevator, which also does a popular podcast. They have alcohol-free events in lovely locations like Costa Rica, Peru and in the pristine forests outside Bozeman, Montana. Sign us up.

Find Your Online Community
If you need extra motivation or someone to hold you accountable, there are a range of apps or online support groups to help people set goals and intentions around cutting down on drinking, and to track their success. One good option is Club Soda. Promoting a mindful approach to sobriety, Club Soda hosts live events worldwide to help connect people who want to cut down, stop briefly or quit drinking altogether.

Another option is Tempest, which offers 24/7 support and access to coaches who can help personalize a plan and help you stay on track, whether you want to quit or simply curb your drinking.

Keep a Drinking Diary
To get a true sense of how much you truly imbibe, write down what and how much you drink for several weeks. Then, moving forward, write down each and every alcoholic sip you take. If you have to think about the alcohol you’re consuming, and have a record of it, you’ll probably be far more mindful about what you decide to drink. 

Dilute Yourself
Consider diluting your wine or cocktail with sparkling water and ice, and sip it slowly. It’s a refreshing, painless way to cut back.

Change Your After-Work Routine
If you’ve gotten into the habit of reaching for a glass of wine or a beer after work to help de-stress, try to change things up by finding some healthier alternatives. Adopt an after-work activity, such as going for a walk or run or another active endeavor. Consider taking up a hobby that doesn’t involve alcohol and spend your evenings doing that.

Enjoy Alcohol-Free Days
Choose a few days per week to abstain completely from alcohol. Log your successes on a calendar. You might even want to do something special for yourself on your dry days. Do some shopping. Have a facial. Take a new fitness class. Include enjoyable activities on your alcohol-free days.

If you want to cut back on your drinking, then congratulations. By simply acknowledging this goal, you’ve taken the first big step toward achieving it. And hopefully, some of these recommendations will help you on your journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

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