How To Drink At Home More Mindfully

How To Drink At Home More Mindfully

After pubs closed their doors last month, supermarkets saw alcohol sales leap up 67%. If you feel you’ve slipped a little too comfortably into a 6pm G&T habit, here’s what four health and wellbeing experts have to say about the right drinking habits at home…

Understand What Alcohol Does

“When we drink to relieve stress, we do initially feel better. Our blood alcohol level rises and things feel slower; our mind relaxes and there’s some disorientation and euphoria. But 20 to 30 minutes later the body starts to purge the alcohol, because that’s what the body does with toxins. As this happens, we feel even more stressed. We start to feel uneasy, tired and anxious. This process takes two to three hours for just one drink, so you are trading 20 minutes of relief for up to three hours of discomfort. That bad feeling cues the brain to drink more, which is why one drink turns into two or three.” – Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment

Establish A Routine

“You don’t have to ditch booze altogether but, if you do feel you are drinking more than usual during the week, try to save it for the weekend to establish some kind of routine. Remember, this is what most people did before lockdown anyway. Try not to exceed 14 units per week – equivalent to six pints of beer or six medium (175ml) glasses of 13.5% wine. Also try to have a day or two off booze during the week if you can. It’s good to give your body a break, even if you are only having one beer.” – Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor

Think About Your Immune System

“Heavy alcohol consumption can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Excessive drinking affects the function of three different cells in your immune system, including the immune cells in the lungs and upper respiratory system, leading to an increased risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections.” – Elaine Hindal, CEO of Drinkaware

Set An Intention

“Our willpower is highest in the morning, so this is a great time to set intentions for the day ahead. I use the 5-Minute Journal and each morning it asks, ‘What would make today great?’ Quite often, my answer is, ‘No booze’ or a more specific, ‘Don’t start drinking wine on tonight’s House Party call with the crew’. Pre-empting trigger situations, then writing them down is a good way to remind yourself of your overall intention. Adding a ‘why’ makes it extra powerful.” – Toni Jones, founder of Shelf Help Club and co-founder of Mindful Mixers

Learn How It Affects You

“We turn to alcohol when stressed and anxious because it’s what we’ve been taught to do. Experience has taught our subconscious mind drinking helps us relax. However, try to notice what alcohol is doing for you. Right before you have a drink, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Note that feeling and check in with yourself 20 minutes after you’ve had a drink. How do you feel now? Wait an hour before the next drink. Did that first drink really do what you wanted it to do, or did it just make you crave another drink? This curiosity helps us notice how we’re feeling – you may discover something unexpected.” – Annie Grace

Boost Your Mood in Other Ways

“Boredom is one of the main causes of current excess alcohol consumption. If this sounds familiar, try to exercise as much as you can – keeping physically active boosts serotonin levels, meaning you won’t feel the need for a drink. The evening will most likely be the time of temptation, so keep yourself busy: cook a meal from scratch or phone a friend.” – Aragona Giuseppe

Stick To One a Day

“Try to limit your alcohol consumption to just one drink per day when on lockdown. This will help to take the edge off and give you the fix you need, and will mean you won’t snowball into more drinks than you intended. Also try to stick to spirits with a mixer – this way, you can better monitor your alcohol intake. Try giving yourself a half measure rather than a full.” – Aragona Giuseppe

Choose Wisely

“To make your drinking habits a little more mindful, look for lower-strength beers and wines when you’re next in the supermarket – these will naturally have fewer units of alcohol in them. Also try to use a smaller glass when drinking. This will mean you’ll be less tempted with larger glasses of wine or stronger measures.” – Elaine Hindal

Find A Community

“Isolating on your own? This is a great time to try out some local communities you may not have had access to previously because of location. Andy’s Man Club and Mental Health Mates both offer online community vibes for people feeling particularly cut off. Andy Ramage and his OneYearNoBeer movement, Ruby Warrington, Fat Tony and Shahroo Izadi are all serving up a dose of inspiration when it comes to habit change around alcohol.” – Toni Jones

Make the Transition

“To signal the end of the working day without turning to booze, change your space from ‘work’ to ‘play’. Create an evening vibe with different lighting, sounds and smells. On Friday nights, try Tony Riddle’s Move, Breathe, Chill sessions on Zoom. Then cook something delicious for dinner with some well-thought out drinks rather than thinking fizzy water will hit the spot (it won’t). Ice-cold, booze-free beer is my go-to. If you really fancy a drink, try a long, low-alcohol option, such as an Aperol or white wine spritz with added soda.” – Toni Jones


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