Christmas is a time that is often associated with excess. Things like carols, gifts and food can seem never-ending this time of year, but while our waistlines and wallets will probably recover from their annual bashing, for many the excess alcohol that comes with the festive season can do damage that lasts far beyond the New Year.
In this latest guest post, LawCare explain how you or someone you know may benefit from Mindful Drinking, including how to spot when things might be getting to be a little too much and ways to make sure you’re in control.
The festive season is fast approaching and with it a myriad of opportunities to drink- the work Christmas party, client lunches, meet-ups with family and friends, everywhere you go there’s a glass of something on offer.
While having a drink in itself is not an issue, this time of year can be tricky for those of us who struggle to moderate our alcohol consumption or are going through a difficult time, or simply just don’t want to drink for whatever reason.
One in five people never drink or are cutting down. There’s lots of reasons people don’t drink, maybe they are now sober, are training for a triathlon, pregnant, don’t drink for religious reasons or even are just nursing a hangover or have to get up early the next morning.
Most of us don’t really think about how much we’re going to drink before we get to an event, and then it’s easy to lose track and go overboard as our glass keeps getting topped up. Mindful drinking is about being more conscious of how much you are drinking.
The key to mindful drinking is to plan. How many drinks will you have? 2-3? None at all? What will you drink if you don’t drink alcohol? Check out the drinks menu before you go to a venue or bring your soft drink of choice to a party. You don’t have to share your plan with others if you don’t want to – you can order, mix or top up your own drinks.
Mindful drinking may be really difficult for some of us who may have more deep-rooted problems with alcohol or are anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, stressed or dealing with a work or personal issue.
To help you assess whether you might need to consider cutting back take a look at our checklist. If you answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the following statements, you could have an issue with alcohol:
- I go out intending to have just one or two drinks, but then don’t seem to be able to stop.
- I’ve tried to cut down a couple of times: I managed a whole week once.
- I sometimes feel guilty about my drinking, and about the effect it has on other people.
- Other people sometimes comment on how much I drink. Why can’t they mind their own business?
- I have a couple of glasses before I go out, in case there’s not enough when I get there.
- I always feel better if I have a drink fairly early in the day, just to steady me.
- I know I’m not an alcoholic because I don’t drink spirits / I’m never drunk / I don’t drink as much as some other people.
Top tips for managing alcohol consumption year round
- Keep a diary. Write down how much you drink each day, in what circumstances, and how it makes you feel. After a couple of weeks, analyse it: look for patterns and, overall, be honest with yourself.
- Avoid drinking environments. Keep out of the pub. Go to a coffee shop or the cinema instead.
- Find a new hobby or interest, and put time and energy into that.
Seeking help for drinking
- See your GP and explain honestly how much you are drinking.
- Talk to your family, friends and/or colleagues and ask for their help. The chances are that they will be happy to support you.
- Find a buddy to cut down drinking with you.
You can also contact LawCare on our free, confidential helpline and talk to another lawyer who’s been there on 0800 279 6888. You can also access webchat, email support and additional resources at www.lawcare.org.uk