Mindful drinking for January and beyond

January 2023

There’s never been a better time to be more conscious of your drinking. And what better time to start than the beginning of a new year?

‘Dry January’, the act of abstaining from alcohol in the month of January, was first established by a UK-based health advocacy charity in 2013, and the wellness trend has since exploded in popularity all over the world. The campaign’s aim was simple – encourage as many people as possible to take a month off drinking and let them see the benefits for themselves.

Dry January is as much a tradition this time of year as putting away the Christmas decorations or setting New Year resolutions. And although it comes only once a year, the trend toward mindful drinking is slowly becoming an all-year around phenomenon.

Drinking mindfully means being aware of why and how much you drink, and taking a moment before you grab an alcoholic beverage. It comes in many forms and can be deciding to only drink alcohol on special occasions, limiting yourself to one or two drinks on a night out, or drinking lower alcohol percentage drinks.

Mindful drinking doesn't mean you have to go cold turkey, or even live the teetotal lifestyle, but rather to be thoughtful about your sips and the value alcohol adds to your life. Mindful drinkers are aware of the effects alcohol has on the body, and they’re cultivating a healthier relationship with alcohol. When you drink mindfully, you’re more likely to think about why you’re drinking. You can savour the moment rather than reach for that next drink. 

Mindful drinking can have incredible benefits for your body and mind after an indulgent holiday season. Studies show that your sleep can improve, you wake up with more energy, and you develop a healthier relationship with drinking. It also rebalances your brain chemistry and helps you experience more positive feelings.

Here are our top tips for how to drink mindfully beyond January and all year long:
If you’ve gotten into the habit of pouring a glass of wine or reaching for a beer after work, this is a signal that you need to do something else to help you wind down. Try finding an after work activity that doesn’t involve alcohol. A gentle exercise class, some yoga stretches or going for a walk or run can all help you to unwind and de-stress.
Before drinking, ask yourself what your purpose is. Are you drinking because you want to enjoy the delicious taste of wine with friends or because you love trying new cocktails? Or is it because you’re feeling socially awkward or need something to take away stress?
Whatever your goals are, jot them down. It may be to drink on fewer days, or to adopt a “Rule of 3” approach by only allowing yourself to drink 3 days a week and never more than three drinks at a time. Alcohol-free days can help break the rhythm and cycle of mindless drinking.
Research has shown that monitoring habits helps improve them. Write down what you’re drinking and how often so you are more aware of your drinking patterns. That can be in the form of an app on your phone or keeping a diary. This will allow you to keep track of your progress and stick to your goals.
There are lots of fun activities you can do to de-stress that don’t involve drinking. Try cooking a nourishing meal, take a bath, listen to a podcast, go to the cinema with friends or watch your favourite TV show. Having ways to distract yourself will help you break the habit loop of regularly opening a bottle of wine.
Finally, there are lots of options when it comes to tasty alcohol-free alternatives or a low alcohol percentage drink. Mocktails and alcohol-free wine are easy swaps when you’re looking to cut back on drinking. Try a non-alcoholic sparkling wine if you’re celebrating a special occasion or get your friends together once a week over a couple of bottles of alcohol-free beer.

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