What would Christmas be without boozy dinners with friends and alcohol-soaked office parties? After all, this is the time to celebrate and have fun. The trouble is that when it comes to drinking there is a fine line between letting your hair down and letting yourself down.

Just in time for the party season, Harley Street hypnotist Kevin Laye has written a new book, Positive Drinking, packed with simple but effective tips to help ensure you have fun but stay in control.

SET YOUR OWN LIMIT

Before you go out for the night, take a few moments to set up a drinking strategy. Run through a few cause-and-effect scenarios - if you stop when you’ve had enough, you’ll have a great time; if you don’t, it may get messy.

Think about where you’re going, what you’re going to do, how much you’re going to drink and how you’re going to behave. Consider your own safe and healthy drink limit. Now imagine being in your favourite bar or at dinner at a friend’s house. Think about drinking two glasses of wine or three pints of beer, and notice how delicious they taste.

Keeping this image in your mind, tap the fleshy side of your hand 20 times, then, with two fingers, firmly tap under the end of your collar bone, on one of the pointy bits under your chin, about ten times. Repeat the process.

Now imagine trying to drink a third glass of wine or a fourth or fifth pint of beer. Your throat should feel as if it is closing up, and you will find it difficult to imagine drinking more. This is a simple exercise based on the scientifically proven practice of Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which applies light, rhythmic pressure to acupuncture points of the body. It may seem bizarre, but studies show TFT really does work.

THE EYE RUB

If your great weakness is a drink at the end of the day to help you unwind, try this alternative relaxation technique (which is also based on TFT). Take your index finger and find the outside edge of the eye socket bone, then rub down and along the bone until you find a dip in the bone - a ‘V’ or ‘U’ shape.

Put your second finger next to the first, so you have a finger tip each side of the dip in the bone, and lightly trace a circle inwards with a little bit of pressure. Do this 10 times or so. Now do the same thing, tracing the circle in the opposite direction. Go back again, but this time press really hard so it’s almost painful, for 10 circles.

Reverse the direction once more, but this time very gently, just stroking the skin. You should feel light and floaty.

Now think of something stressful. It should be difficult because the eye rub has such a deeply relaxing effect that it wipes out the desire for a “relaxing” drink.

THE WATER CHASER

Order a water chaser with every drink you buy, interchanging each drink with water, tonic or soda to allow your body to pace itself. It is an effective way to stop yourself becoming dehydrated (a major cause of hangovers) and it saves you money, too.

HOW TO SAY ‘NO’

Peer pressure is just another term for bullying. Sadly, the Christmas season is heavily populated by dominant types who may want to get drunk and drag you along with them. Be strong, and if you don’t want an extra drink, simply shake your head from side to side and say: “No.” Think about it. Coffee is delicious, but if anyone suggested a night out and nine pints of coffee you’d think them insane. Alcohol is no different. If it doesn’t feel right, just say no.

YOUR BODY KNOWS BEST

The body has an intrinsic sense of what is acceptable for it to ingest or inhale and what isn’t. If you’re not sure whether or when to stop drinking, ask your body if the next drink is a good idea.

Try this: stand with your feet 25cm apart and parallel. Keep your spine straight and your head evenly weighted on top of your spine.

Calibrate yourself by thinking of the word “Yes” and notice that your body will usually move slightly forwards. Now think “No” and feel yourself move slightly backwards. Sometimes it does the opposite, so take that as your calibration for the day.

Now ask yourself if you should have another alcoholic drink. Notice which way your body moves to give you your answer.

An alternative technique is to use your finger and thumb, rubbing them together very gently. Think “Yes” and it should feel smooth. Thinking “No” should make it feel rougher, or different in some noticeable way.

If you have trouble using your finger and thumb, try using a credit card and rub it gently on its smooth side. “Yes” will be easy and “No” will have more friction and feel sticky. That’s what to look for when you ask yourself: “Should I have another drink?”

KILL THE CRAVING

When we see, hear, taste or smell something, it triggers an automatic reaction, good or bad depending on whether we like it or not.

But you can learn to amplify these reactions so you can harness them to help control cravings.

Try this exercise: think of your favourite alcoholic drink and squeeze together the thumb and little finger of your right hand. Imagine having a glass of this drink in front of you right now. How does it smell? How does it taste? How do you feel?

Amplify all the sensations until the positive feelings of pleasure grow. All the time keep squeezing that thumb and little finger together. Then stop and break that state of mind by thinking of something else.

You have just created a positive anchor and the idea is, with practice, whenever you need a boost, all you have to do is squeeze together the thumb and little finger of your right hand to access all those thoughts.

Now think of something that repulses you (perhaps a food) and imagine the smell or taste and being forced to eat it. Keep going until you feel nauseous. As you do this, squeeze the little finger and thumb on your left hand until the feeling of disgust reaches a peak. This has created a negative anchor. When you are drinking and your brain knows it’s time to stop, but your hand is reaching for more, access these anchors. Once you’ve practised this, you should be able to fire off feelings of disgust on your left hand every time you feel the urge for a drink.

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Extracted from Positive Drinking: Control The alcohol before it controls you! by Kevin Laye (Hay House). - Daily Mail