With the festive party season almost upon us, Lisa de Silva offers some wise and thoughtful words on the topic of alcohol awareness, and some suggestions on ways to keep consumption under control
There’s no doubt that the past couple of years have been challenging. Living through a global pandemic, coping with successive lockdowns and dealing with ongoing uncertainty over jobs and income have taken their toll. So, it’s no wonder that a glass of wine, a pint of beer or a G&T has come to feel like an essential part of any self-care regime.
The trend for drinking alcohol at home has steadily increased over the last decade and the impact of Covid-19 has done nothing to soften this trend. For most people, this isn’t a problem. We look at images of young people falling out of nightclubs or slumping on pavements comatose with alcohol, and while we may smile, we certainly don’t identify with them.
Yet, there is a fine line between enjoying a drink and needing a drink. We’ve all laughed at the idea of ‘wine o’clock,’ ‘mummy wine’ or ‘daddy beer,’ but interestingly there’s a small but growing trend towards sobriety, as the negative effects of alcohol on our health and wellbeing become more widely known.
Being alcohol aware does not mean giving up alcohol, but it does mean understanding the physical and emotional impact it has on your body and your mind. Alcohol is addictive and according to the NHS is the second biggest risk for cancer after smoking. It’s linked to weight gain, dehydration of both your body and skin, as well as insomnia.
Ironically, while we may think drinking alcohol makes us more relaxed and sociable, in reality, it increases anxiety, acts as a depressant and can exacerbate mental health issues. In contrast, the benefits of abstaining include better sleep, regulated weight, clearer skin, less anxiety and more energy for taking on new challenges.
If you are sober curious and wondering whether your life might be better without alcohol, the most important question to ask yourself is why you drink? When you pour that tipple, what are you hoping it will deliver? Confidence? Relaxation? Friendship? A reward of some kind? Are there other ways you can create those feelings without having a drink? Might your life and health be better without drinking alcohol?
For those looking to stop or moderate their alcohol intake, try setting yourself a 30-day sober challenge and plan activities that help you 'switch off,’ that don’t involve alcohol. Read some ‘quit lit’ books to inspire you and if you can’t break the habit of having a drink, keep the same ritual, but choose non-alcoholic drinks, such as artisan tonics, botanical alternatives to spirits or alcohol-free beer and wine. You can even download an App to track your sober days and the money you’ve saved.
Why not give it a try and see how much non-alcoholic fun there is to enjoy?