Setbacks – Understanding ‘Deprivation Syndrome’

January 2024 | 6 minutes

Do you suffer from ‘Deprivation Syndrome’? Okay, that isn’t an actual syndrome but it describes the feeling we can get when there’s something we want that we don’t think we can have. It comes with all sorts of sneaky thoughts about how we’ve earned it, or life isn’t fair, or we can see others enjoying it so we want it too, or, well sometimes, we just want it.

Similar to cravings, ‘deprivation syndrome’ can pop up unexpectedly for no apparent reason and really test your powers of self-control. When we notice a feeling of deprivation, it can be useful to acknowledge it first, before digging deep to explore what exactly you think you are missing out on.

Weigh up the pros and cons

You can tackle this one by writing a pros and cons list. Think of this as a what-am-I-gaining / what-am-I-giving-up list.

By making a shift in your mindset, rather than focusing on what you feel you can’t have, you focus on what you can have and what you can gain. Remember, Dry January is never about giving up alcohol, it is about gaining so much more. Think about gaining control, time, money, health and more when you go alcohol-free.

Now go and find yourself a treat. Don’t think deprived, think alternative pleasures. We can’t stress this enough – you won’t enjoy your month if you don’t find something enjoyable to fill the empty booze hole (that’s a theoretical hole BTW).

Warning: If you get a couple of days in and the thought of having a drink is increasingly occupying your waking thoughts, of you’re feeling physical symptoms such as shakes, sweats, nausea or an overwhelming need for a drink, then this challenge isn’t right for you at this time. Speak to your doctor for advice and support options. Read more about things to look out for, as well as a list of support available to you.

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