Just three more days of the calendar to be ticked off, and the collective willpower of the nation collapses in tandem. In households across the land, the arrival of February marks the year’s worst hangover; the passing of a successful Dry January celebrated with a thorough soaking, then mourned with a day of dehydration satchels and groaning. A chorus of ‘I’m never drinking again’ rarely lasts long.

Indeed, it’s all too easy to undo the good work of a sober month by returning to your old ways as soon as its finished. Instead, carry the good work of the January drought through with these; our 5 IDEAL tips on cutting down your alcohol intake in 2019.

CHERISH THE POSITIVE CHANGE

For those who have enjoyed (or endured) a month of sobriety, it can be a genuinely eye-opening experience. Physically, most abstainers report having a better complexion and figure; something no amount of beauty products can match. Mentally, a more positive mindset, greater energy and ambition, and clarity of thought are common; something no amount of brain training can achieve. And financially, the money saved on not going out and blowing your paycheck on the booze is really, truly significant. It’s crazy to think that all of this gets thrown away, just because of a change in the date.

DON’T LET SOCIALBILITY SUFFER

One reason that so many of us fall back off the wagon after a period of abstinence is the social aspect of drinking. A sad truth of British culture is that nearly all social events revolve around getting pissed, however polite the company. So, just because you’re cutting down or giving up doesn’t mean you should retreat into hermit status and abandon any meaningful connections you have with the outside world.

Yep, it’s still cool to go to bars and socialise. Indulge in moderation, if you can; set limits, enlist the help of your friends to stick to them, opt out of rounds, and when close to succumbing to the temptation to get tanked, remind yourself of the benefits of drinking less. If you’re cutting out alcohol entirely, the market for zero % drinks is booming, meaning two things; you’re very much not alone in your choice, and you can still enjoy ‘drinking’ without any of the detrimental impacts of alcohol.

Your social life doesn’t have to revolve around the pub though. Join classes, community groups and forums, and expand your network. You’ll make new friends and connections which aren’t so reliant on liver damage.

‘APPY TO HELP

There are plenty of apps out there to help you monitor and moderate your alcohol intake. Some take the form of daily motivational messages, hypnotherapy and mindfulness advice. Others help you track how much you’ve been consuming, and how much it’s cost you, in both pounds and calories. Many also offer the chance to engage with a community of like-minded people, which for some can be really helpful. You really are spoilt for choice with the amount of help out there in app form, so dive in. Most are free, too.

TREAT YOURSELF

One thing’s for sure; you’ll be shocked by the amount of money you save by drinking less. And just because you’ve chosen to cut out the booze doesn’t mean you should be living an ascetic life. So reward yourself for meeting goals you set; a sober month, perhaps, can be celebrated by buying yourself something nice with the equivalent money saved. A pleasant reminder that you’ve taken back control of your life, we think.

It’s not only money you’ll save. By spending less time in the pub and hungover, you’ll have so much more opportunity to achieve things that the foggy haze of booze has previously prevented.

REALISTIC GOALS, ONE DAY AT A TIME

It’s important to set goals which are manageable, so each day can be treated as a potential success. Simple steps can help make cutting down easier. Many swear by ‘dinner drinking’; that is, to only allow yourself a drink during dinner, allowing for a leisurely, sociable relationship with alcohol. Others buy in a spirt measuring cup, to make sure their g’n’ts at home don’t turn out to be quadruple strength. Some simply keep only the drink they want for the evening in the house. Whatever works for you is, of course, the best way forward.

If things are really problematic, then help is available. Don’t let stigma stop you from seeking it out.