Alcohol & The Holidays
In the 50th episode of “Breaking the Bottle Legacy” with Molly Watts, Molly explores the complexities of maintaining a peaceful relationship with alcohol, especially during the holiday season. Molly delves into societal pressures and the prevalence of binge drinking during festivities, challenging listeners to question subconscious thoughts about alcohol. Sharing her personal struggles, she emphasizes the significance of self-awareness and mindful decision-making, urging individuals to confront negative emotions driving drinking habits. Molly reflects on her own journey, advocating for present mindfulness, imperfection acceptance, and the conscious examination of ingrained beliefs. Practical tips for navigating social situations are offered, including insights on self-compassion and fostering self-trust.
You’re listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 50. Hi, I’m Molly, after a lifetime living under the influence of family alcohol abuse, spending more than 30 years worrying about alcohol and my own drinking, believing I had an unbreakable daily drinking habit, I changed my relationship with alcohol forever. If you want to change your drinking habits than breaking the bottle legacy is for you. My goal is to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present, and future. Each week all focus on real science and using your own brain to change your relationship with alcohol. Nothing has gone wrong, you’re not broken. You’re not sick. It’s not your genes. And creating peace is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome. Or Welcome back to breaking the bottle legacy with me your host, Molly Watts coming to you from Oh, an absolutely dark and pouring and cold Oregon this morning. My goodness. It is just coming down. It’s coming down so loud that I can honestly hear the water coming down outside my windows. I don’t think it’s picking up on the recording. But gosh, it might it’s raining that hard. And it’s cold. Oregon in December, what can I tell you, it’s not my favorite month of the year in terms of weather. But of course I love the holidays and I can see some holiday lights still on outside early this morning. So that’s that’s nice. A, this episode comes with its own special bonus. If you are in my private Facebook group, you don’t have to do anything extra. I’ll be sharing it with you inside the group this week. If you are not in the group, Well number one, maybe you want to join us. There’s always a link in the show notes. But if you just head on over to Facebook and search for alcohol minimalists, you will find us if you join the group, you’ll have access to a lot of free resources that I’ve shared with the group including my recommended reading list for changing your drinking habits. A reflection and recovery worksheet for Off Plan drinking brain lessons and I’ll be adding this fun extra my top five recipes for low alcohol or non alcoholic drinks for the holidays. It includes some fun facts you may not realize about cream of course, like most have a really low alcohol by volume and taste delicious. I’ve pulled together some recipes from some resources you’ve probably not heard of I hadn’t. And you will definitely want to try these drinks. As someone who isn’t very adventurous when it comes to drinks. I’ve always been primarily a beer drinker or non alcoholic beer drinker. These won’t break the bank. And if even if you have to buy an ingredient or two, and they’re just fun and festive and feel like a great addition to the holidays. So if you don’t want to be a part of the group totally cool. Just head over to www dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a why walks with an S and right on the front page of the website. It’s available there too for a limited time. All right, on to this week’s episode. It is another in my series of alcohol and and it is called alcohol and the holidays. Obviously, this is a timely deset discussion because right now we are smack dab in the middle of the big holiday season. But I know for many of us whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, you know there are even other times of the year St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day Fourth of July. Alcohol is almost synonymous with the holidays for many of us. And I know that’s certainly true for me is certainly was true for me. And even after I had made a lot of progress on my daily drinking habit. The Holidays still felt different to me. Changing my mindset around them seemed way more challenging. Now, if you’ve read my book, you know that Thanksgiving was a holiday that I couldn’t imagine surviving without over drinking and overeating. And more on that in a minute. And while I didn’t feel the same need to numb out or Buffer away stress during Christmas or New Years. I definitely saw drinking as a way to increase fun over those holidays. I mean, really what is New Year’s Eve without drinking the night away and toasting in the new year right maybe like me, you’ve made some real progress in changing your daily habits or your typical weekly routine. But here come the holidays and you might Very well be feeling like cutting back on the holidays will be impossible. This episode we’re going to dive into that, what’s really going on there, and how you can actually have a wonderful holiday season and do it as an alcohol minimalist. There’s some forces working against us. I’ve talked about the creating awareness and the challenges in terms of the alcohol industry itself and society right. And, of course, drinking during the holidays is a relatively normal practice. Forbes magazine even wrote an article listed 10 reasons to drink during the holidays, mentioning that the sociable nature of the reasons behind holidays whether it’s the height of summer or the dead of winter, old friends and family members visit companies host holiday parties, streets are decorated with Christmas lights. It’s hard not to celebrate, says forbs. There are many other reasons that people drink during the holidays, and not all of them are happy. For many holidays are a time of loneliness and stress. Not everyone enjoys mingling at the office party. Of course, it’s a little different right now with COVID. Who knows, I mean, people but I think people are getting back together these days this year. Having old friends and seldom seen relatives under the same roof can lead to some, you know, awkward situations. financial and economic struggles are a real problem, where there is pressure to buy something to celebrate the occasion, while still struggling to pay bills and rent. In these contexts, it’s hard not to want to drown your sorrows in alcohol. So I get that. Given this, this confluence of celebratory and extra stressors. Forbes writes that it’s hardly surprising that many people indulge in seasonal binge drinking. The distilled spirits Council of the United States notes that a quarter of the $49 billion a year distilled spirits industries profits come from the month between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Do you get that one quarter of $49 billion a year that’s a lot of money. So strong is the temptation to drink during holiday weekends, that even people who are moderate consumers of alcohol tend to increase their drinking rates during the holidays. There was a study done by the Karen treatment centers in New York, the study is kind of old, it was done in 2013. But I think they do it on an annual basis. But it was run by Harris Poll. So it’s it’s legitimate. And it’s really just it what what it noted was that most Americans have absolutely no idea what high risk drinking looks like. And it loads them into a false sense of security during the holidays regarding their limits. Here’s what Dr. Harris strainer the PhD who at the time was the PhD, regional vice president of care and treatment centers. He said, alcohol is still the number one cause of damaging behavior at holiday celebrations throughout the US. We tend to see an increase in alcohol abuse during the holidays. And the findings show that many people have no sense of how much alcohol is healthy to consume, or how it impairs them when they go past the low risk limit. It’s a serious public safety concern when 60% of adult who attend holiday parties witnessed dangerous and even illegal behavior. Based on Karen’s survey results, it’s clear that many Americans are either unaware of the low risk limit or the high risk limits information or they don’t take it seriously. nearly 80% of US adults have attended a workplace holiday party and 93% have attended a family party. According to the survey, the survey asked adults aged 21 Plus what they considered to be the acceptable number of drinks during these occasions. Here’s what they found. 44% said consuming three or more drinks during family holiday parties was fine as long as the imbiber could quote unquote hold their liquor and refrain from driving. 32% felt three or more drinks was acceptable at workplace holiday parties, as long as the person could, quote hold their liquor and refrain from driving. Many of these adults polled also noted that these parties can quickly become booze fests where there’s no shortage of destructive behavior. 60% of those who attended workplace holiday parties have seen someone under the influence of alcohol behave in a pro Apparently 60% of those who attended family holiday parties also reported that a family member behaved inappropriately after drinking too much. So I’m really on a personal mission to educate people regarding low risk drinking limits. And it’s part of what being an alcohol minimalist is all about. When I say alcohol minimalist, what do you hear? Here’s what I know that I mean, what it means to me to be an alcohol man is minimalist, and I hope it’s what you understand and hear or learn, right. So number one is I stick to low risk limits for including alcohol in my life. As a woman that is no more than seven standard drinks in a week, and no more than three standard drinks in any one day. For the men listening, that is no more than 14 standard drinks in any one week, and no more than four standard drinks in any one sitting. I am talking about the standard drinks that are here in the United States. That means no more than five ounces of wine, one and a half ounces of distilled spirits. and 12 ounces of regular beer. If you’re an IPA drinker like me, it’s more like eight to nine ounces because of the higher alcohol by volume. Point is you’re going to need to educate yourself on your drink of choice what your alcohol by volume is, and make that correlation into what a standard drink is, there are calculators I will put a link in my show notes for a good one on figuring out how much alcohol is in your drink of choice and what a standard drink looks like. Regardless, low risk limits are important. And it’s an important part of being an alcohol minimalist. And it also doesn’t mean that I purposefully go out and intend on drinking seven drinks per week. I include multiple alcohol free days every week. And typically my total drink counts are probably around five. When I do include alcohol in my plans, I plan for it ahead of time. And I know in advance that I’m not going to exceed three standard drinks. And most often, if I drink two drinks, I know I’ve had enough and I don’t care to drink another. Thirdly, I don’t drink in response to negative emotion. Or do I make alcohol the focus of any event or activity looking to increase the fun because I know that alcohol isn’t what does that for me alcohol does not change negative emotions. Alcohol does not create fun. I’ll get to that. I’ll explain more of that in a minute. While the first two characteristics sticking to low risk limits and making a plan ahead of time are important. It’s the last thing I mentioned not drinking in response to negative emotion, or looking for alcohol to increase fun. That is really where the strength of being an alcohol minimalist lies. And it’s how I know that my new relationship with alcohol is so different now than what it used to be. Even during the holidays, my thoughts around alcohol now have changed my desire to drink. And that’s really what being an alcohol minimalist is all about is different. Being an alcohol minimalists means that I’ve changed my desire to drink alcohol. I’m a part of a lot of different online communities where people are working on their drinking habits, which is fantastic. And yet the number one thing I see in people’s posts about their drinking is that they don’t connect their desire for drinking with their own thoughts about alcohol. Often they’re focused on just counting the drinks and monitoring the amount they’re having. And I get that and I totally support that, you know, as a part of this process. Obviously it just said being an alcohol. Minimalist means sticking to low risk limits. But the important part of doing the thought work is what I really want people to understand is how they’re really going to change their desire. I understand this because, you know, when I was working first working on changing my drinking habits, I never really understood the power of my own thinking when it came to my desire to drink. I believed I was genetically predisposed to desire alcohol more because of my alcoholic parent, my alcoholic mother. I actually believed as in thought it was 100% true that I liked beer. The taste of it too much to not drink it every day. I was also 100% Convinced that alcohol helped me relieve stress and anxiety and that I needed it to unwind. I had practiced thinking these thoughts for so long, they were beliefs, they were truths to me. They ran in my subconscious part of the habit that I had established with my drinking, and I never questioned them. I never understood how those thoughts those beliefs, fueled my desire to drink, and to keep drinking. And I see people posting all the time about how they were doing okay with cutting back, but then they had a really hard day and overtake, or I see people post that they started off strong in the morning, thinking they wouldn’t drink. But by the end of the day, they just didn’t have the same result. And, of course, lately, I see I’m seeing posts about the family, the holidays and these family stressors we were just talking about, and not knowing whether or not they can stick to their plans because of the anticipated stress, or because they want to celebrate. It’s it’s normal, right. And, of course, these beliefs are all rooted in past experiences. They’re rooted in societal norm, they’re rooted in the alcohol industry kind of pushing their agenda and supporting these beliefs. And it’s the evidence that we’ve created in our own lives that currently support those beliefs that we have, it’s hard to think anything different, because that’s all we’ve known. So do you know the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I’m going to just assume it’s a common enough tale, and I won’t retell it here. But what I want you to remember is that Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas, present, and Christmas future. In the story, Ebenezer is able to see his life, past, present, and future. And from those experiences, he changes who he is what he believes about himself, so his future will be different. This is exactly what I want for you. And it’s what’s possible for you and your relationship with alcohol. Now, you’re not going to have a ghost to help you travel to the past, present, or future. But hopefully, with my help, we can do this ourselves. And we will put on our scientific observer hats and reflect on the past, get curious about the present. And then we’ll work on changing our thoughts about the future. We’re not going to be able to travel ahead in time, like Ebenezer did, but we can work on creating a future, a Christmas future that is different and is better and hopefully as an alcohol minimalist. So when you look back on past holidays, what do you see? When you travel back to Christmas pasts? Were you overindulging and paying the price with feeling hungover and anxious the day or days after? Was alcohol the focus of your family gatherings were or your or your holiday parties? How did alcohol enhance or take away from the holidays? And feel free to you know, stop, write these down? Write down your answers, literally journaling? Of course as you if you don’t know this already, and you’ve heard me talk about it on the podcast always good for helping you. clarify your thinking. When you remember holidays of the past, do you have nostalgic feelings about your drinking? Or are there some negative associations with drinking that are there? If you could travel back in time and talk to yourself? What would you say? In my book, I share some of my old beliefs about Thanksgiving and how the thoughts I had created a feeling of stress in me that fueled my desire to over drink and over eat. I look back on past Thanksgivings. And I can literally remember one time specifically pouring a beer in the early afternoon before we traveled over to my mother in law’s telling myself that I needed to drink to cope with the day. By the time Thanksgiving dinner rolled around a few hours later, I was suffered several drinks in far past the low risk limits. And I went on to overeat to as I tried to numb and buffer my way through the event. I look back on that day and I realized that I had a lot of working stories about both my stress and what I believed was helping me relieve it. Now looking back at that holiday, I don’t do it with regret or disappointment or reproach. I look back and I simply try to remember how I felt at the time. And with the help of the behavior map and results cycle, I can try to find the thinking that led to those feelings even now I can look back and I can remember what was going through my mind. And this helps me see how I not only fueled that desire to drink, but also how I perpetuated the feelings of stress with my own thinking to. Now, I also remember many Christmases where I wasn’t stressed, but truly I was enjoying myself. And I believed that drinking would add to the fun and enjoyment without any real consideration of the consequences to my overall health, my safety, my sleep, or the rebound anxiety, I felt that was caused by the increase in those excitatory neurotransmitters that were released, trying to offset the chemical does depressant of alcohol. And I’ve talked about that in past podcasts, you can go find out more if you’re not clear what I’m talking about there. When you’re working on the past, right? We don’t want to get stuck in the past the past is really something that we’re looking back at with our scientific observer hats on, we’re going to be curious and compassionate with ourselves. We’re going to uncover old stories. And that’s it. The past what I believe about the past today only exists in my thoughts. Now, the past doesn’t need to keep traveling with me, it doesn’t need to keep carrying me down, you know, holding on to me, I get to choose what I make it mean. And what I make it mean is an education opportunity for myself now, right. I have told the story on this podcast of my birthday in 2020 still passed, but I’m going to really talk about this more as an example of being in the present right when I had started working on my daily drinking habit. So in 2020, I had greatly reduced my drinking on a daily basis. But over my birthday weekend, which is in November, I thought I would celebrate. So I drank past those low risk limits having four or five IPAs on both Friday and Saturday nights. And on Sunday morning, I woke up and I could feel the anxiety very prominently. I was weepy, and my heart was racing. And I felt the tension in my chest. And it was the first time that I was very aware of that feeling and made the connection to my overdrinking. Before we started working on my relationship with alcohol before I became aware of the science, before I had started making more mindful choices. I never understood those trade offs, I never was aware of the trade offs or was aware of those feelings that I was making with alcohol. Drinking four to five drinks on weekend nights was very standard for me prior to 2019. But by November 2020, I had reduced that my daily drinking habits significantly. And I didn’t very often exceed three drinks per night. And so those that event was exceptional. And I knew it. And because I had done this work, I knew exactly what was happening to happening to me physically in my brain, I knew that the neurotransmitters, the excitatory neurotransmitters were being spiked, and that I was feeling that rebound anxiety. And I could tell the difference of drinking to excess versus my more mindful approaches of more recent months then, the thing is, even though I was aware, I felt terrible and I had to endure it all day. And that was, you know, one of those eye opening events, it actually it actually spurred me into immediate action. I was still having problems sleeping on Sunday night and Monday night and I decided right then and there I was going to take my very first extended alcohol free break. And I had a 12 day alcohol free breakups the first time, first time in more than 20 years that I had gone 12 days without drinking alcohol. And it was because of my own awareness and my realization of what was happening when I was over drinking. So I want you to do that now right now with your own celebrations and your holidays in the present. No matter where you are in your journey. If you are listening to this podcast, I have to believe you are here because you want to start making a change and you want to move closer to being an alcohol minimalist. You are becoming more mindful and aware. So let’s look at holidays present. What do you believe right now about alcohol? And how will it be a part of your holidays? What do you believe about your family gatherings and parties? Do you anticipate being stressed or are you seeing an end? Do you see alcohol as a way of helping you ease that stress? Are you looking forward to celebrating and see alcohol as your agent of fun like I did? Or are you worried that you You’re going to overindulge and that you simply don’t have the willpower you will need to survive the holiday season. What stories about alcohol? Are you telling yourself that fuel your desire to drink? Here’s the thing with thoughts. They are just sentences in our brain. And every single thought we think, is optional. We are, of course, a lot of them run in the subconscious. And part of this work is bringing those subconscious thoughts up to the conscious mind and becoming aware of them. And the thing is, we’re very accustomed to simply believing everything we think without questioning it, without trying to see another point of view where our truths might not be so true. How much of what you currently believe about your life is a fact. And how much of it is your own narrative. It is a fact it is a circumstance of my life, that I have a full time job on site, where I spend eight hours a day, five days a week, I can choose to see that as a blessing, I can choose to see it as a burden. The only thing that is true is that I have a full time job that requires me to be there. Do you see the difference in the narrative? I could tell people, you know, that I I can choose, I can say I love my job. I love being able to be on site and have ongoing communications and relationships with my co workers. Or I could choose to see it as I hate the commute. I wish I got to work from home. Right? If only I worked from home, things would be so much better. It’s all a narrative. It’s a narrative that I choose. And when I choose a more positive narrative, I feel better. Are there thoughts that you could change to help you relieve your stress? When you think about your family or your budget or your time? Do you want to believe they are the reason you feel stressed out? What else is true about the circumstances in your life. When you understand the power of your own brain with how much influence you have in your life, to create the feelings you want to have, or avoid feelings you don’t want to have like stress and anxiety. It can change how you feel about the holidays. And it can change your desire for alcohol. One of the hardest parts of practicing this thought work is practicing new beliefs. So future beliefs, right? This is Christmas future if you’re with me still on the Christmas carol analogy. New beliefs are just thoughts that you repeat over and over until they become a new belief, right? When you first start to try when you try to first start believing something different, especially something that goes against all the evidence you’ve created in your life up to this point, it’s going to feel a little awkward, you’re not going to feel confident. In fact, you will likely feel very uncomfortable. That’s okay, keep going. Keep working on finding a thought that you can believe right now. You don’t have to know with certainty that you can change your drinking habits that you are capable of minimizing alcohol in your life. And you’re not going to keep using it to change how you’re feeling. But you can believe that you’re learning how to change, you can believe that you’re capable of not giving up on yourself. And you can believe that you will allow yourself the time to figure this out. Honestly, I’ve never been good at visualizing the future. And what I’ve learned about myself on this journey is that the future arrived without fanfare, without some big aha moment when I said oh, this is it. I’ve made it. My future eased into the present. And what I want never dreamed would be possible became not only possible, but it was who I am. I am an alcohol minimalist. And I arrived here slowly, surely with stumbles. But I did it. And that future is now my present. And I know you can do that too. My holidays will be focused on seeing friends seeing family, baking, rapping, watching movies, playing board games, watching football Of course, and enjoying a drink here and there. I won’t have to worry about my sleep. About my Health, about my safety, or how my drinking might impact my anxiety. Will there be stress? Oh, I’m sure my mind will go find some. And I’ll have to step back just like you and remind myself that there’s always another story to tell. There’s another perspective available to me that might help me feel better. And I will work to find it. When days feel more overwhelming, and I simply feel like doing the thought work feels too hard. I’ll turn on the hot water and sitting in a hot bath, and try to unwind that way. Taking alcohol out of the equation doesn’t mean that my life is, you know, perfect. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It doesn’t mean it’s always happy. It’s always 5050. That’s life, and dealing with my human life is so much better, and so much more real and so much more authentic as an alcohol minimalist, and that includes the holidays, too. Okay, that’s all I have for you this week, my friends. If you want a copy of those awesome holiday, low alcohol, no alcohol beverages, please come join the Facebook group, or head on over to www dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a why and watts with an S. For those of you that want to stick around for another minute, I want to remind you have proof positive my small group that is starting in January. I’m going to be working on two different programs in January. And for anyone who wants to join me, we’ll be meeting weekly, and I’ll be sending out daily inspirational meant messages to the group. Here’s how you join. Step one, you go to dry you weary.org That’s the group through moderation management that is doing January alcohol free. It’s 100% free, no investment, but it is a great support group and it’s just awesome. You’re going to learn a lot, and it’s a perfect way to start taking an alcohol free month. Step number two, go to nutrition overeasy.com/upgrade. To sign up for the 30 day nutrition upgrade from Monica Rai Nagel. This is a 30 day program that is designed to meet you exactly where you are, and help you make better decisions regarding your diet and nutrition. Now that program is normally $49. But with my discount code, Molly 20, that’s Molly with a y to zero, you will get it for $39. So $39 Both programs. And you’ll be doing an alcohol free month, and an upgraded nutrition program together with me to kick off 2022 In the very best way we can. That’s why we’re calling it proof positive. We are taking small steps together toward changing our relationship with alcohol and small steps towards improving our nutrition. I’m doing this work with you. And even if you’re not perfect, and I know I won’t be specially on the nutrition part. I I know that being a part of this group will really start the new year off in a very positive way. Links will be in the show notes. So I hope you will go over there register at both places. If you do that you’re automatically if you register for dry weary and you register for the nutrition upgrade you are automatically improved positive links will be in the show notes. And you know, until next time, although I am tempted to say God bless us, everyone. For those of you that have forgotten that we were doing a Christmas carol themed episode here. That’s what that was for. I’ll simply say instead, choose peace, my friends. Thank you for listening to breaking the bottle legacy. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Take something that you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com