What is mindful drinking?

How mindful drinking can help you and your health.

You may be surprised to learn that a standard 175ml glass of 12% wine has an astonishing 133 calories which is the equivalent of three Jaffa Cake biscuits. However, it will come as no surprise that alcohol can have a myriad of negative effects to your health including weight gain, liver and heart damage, and increased risk of depression and anxiety. That is just to name a few.

Shift towards reduced drinking

COVID-19 has given many the time to pause and reflect on the condition of their health extending to their relationship with alcohol. Many people are now looking for ways to improve both their mental and physical health as well as boosting their overall sense of wellbeing. We are starting to witness a cultural shift away from binge drinking and heavy drinking dominating social activities and gatherings. This sort of ‘awakening’ that is starting to trend of looking towards a healthier lifestyle has been helped by the Generation Z who are drinking less than ever before whilst opting away from alcohol and towards low-consumption, and even complete abstinence from alcohol. It is widely reported by Berenberg that people in their teens to early 20s are drinking 20% less than millennials did at that age.

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What is the practice of mindful drinking?

This shift towards a cleaner, healthier lifestyle combined with a sharper focus on looking after and boosting our wellbeing has led to the evolvement of the mindful drinking phenomenon. Mindful drinking is the practice of being aware of how much alcohol you drink and more importantly why you drink. By practicing mindful drinking, it often leads to healthier relationships with alcohol and less consumption. It is about being more present in the moment with each drink that you consume. To do this mindful drinking advocates that you take a pause before each new drink and ask yourself the key question: does this drink support me? Taking the time to truly reflect on this question is important, so you can make the best-informed choice when it comes to deciding on whether to have another alcoholic drink, and in turn make a wise choice that affects your health. It is this one loaded question that can be the key to unlocking a healthier relationship between yourself and alcohol. This can lead to a better understanding of your relationships with others such as family, friends, and colleagues.

How to practice mindful drinking

Beyond this powerful question, lies an array of other techniques that you can employ to help you practice mindful drinking, including:

Understand your reasons: Take time to consider the reasons why you will be drinking non-alcoholic drinks in advance of an event/activity. That way, if asked, you will feel confident by knowing your reasons well.

Creating a flexible plan: Putting a plan into place that has allowances for slight change to take place is important. For example, you may plan to only have two alcoholic drinks on a Friday but through checking in after each drink you decide to have a third drink because it is the right decision for you and on Saturday you then decide to have no alcoholic drinks.

Drink choices: Planning your drink choices in advance can help you with sticking to your drinking plan. Make a strong start to sticking to your drink choices by ordering your own drinks and avoiding taking part in rounds.

Being aware of your surroundings: Take the time to acknowledge the people you are drinking with and where you are located when you are drinking to help you review why you are choosing to drink in certain circumstances.

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What are the health benefits of mindful drinking? 

Practicing mindful drinking can enable you in the long-term to reduce your alcohol intake and this comes with a wide range of health benefits. But how much is too much alcohol? What are the safe limits? Knowledge of safe limits of drinking is generally not widely known. Being aware of the recommended units of alcohol for a week is crucial knowledge to be armed with when setting yourself goals to improve your relationship with alcohol and in turn your health. The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week which should be spread across three or more days.

What are the health benefits for reduced alcohol consumption?

  • Reduced risk of putting on weight as alcohol is often high in empty calories which can lead to weight gain
  • Less sleep disturbance and negative affects to your mood and memory
  • Sharpened concentration and high energy levels
  • Better skin and reduced risk of teeth decay and oral disease
  • Reduced risk of cancer and liver disease
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels

If you are interested in learning more about healthy habits when it comes to drinking then give our Healthy and Hydrated blog post a read. 

An action plan for mindful drinking

We have gathered some tips below to help you create your own flexible action plan so you can confidently and happily practice mindful drinking:

Rule of three: Take the time to set out your personal rules for drinking to give you a structure and motivation for looking after your health. If you are looking for ideas around setting goals then give the rule of three a go such as setting the limit of three drinks for a given day.

Non-alcoholic alternatives: Do your research when it comes to finding tasty non-alcoholic drinks which could include looking at the drinks menu for bars ahead of time or asking bar staff about options available.

Organise alcohol-free activities: Plan time for activities that you enjoy where alcohol will not be involved or be a temptation such as attending an exercise class.

Appreciate your drink: Importantly, take your time with each drink and savour each sip. Only choose drinks that you enjoy the flavour of, and take it slow. Always asking the golden question: does it support you?

If you are looking for some useful tips and advice on sticking to new healthy habits, then have a look at our Healthy Habits blog post.

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How can mindful drinking help with looking after your health?

Mindful drinking can help to sustain low to moderate levels of alcohol intake and in turn a healthy relationship with alcohol which will enable you to reap physical and mental health benefits; and not have any restrictions when it comes to private health insurance.

You may be surprised to learn that health insurance policies do not commonly cover treatment for alcoholism or substance addiction. It is always important to be looking after your health before and during holding a policy. Private health insurance does however cover most acute medical conditions if you are fit and healthy. Policies can be tailored to meet your individual requirements. Conditions commonly covered include:

  • Cancer including palliative care, diagnosis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc.
  • Heart disease including aftercare cover
  • Stroke aftercare
  • Sports injuries unless you’re a professional sports person
  • Mental health issues including counselling and psychiatric care
  • Complementary therapies such as physiotherapy and osteopathy
  • Alternative therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, etc.

If you or anyone you know is looking for support for serious problems with alcohol such as alcohol dependency, the NHS has a list of useful resources including helplines and how to find alcohol support services in your local area. It is important to talk to your GP in the first instance if you have more serious concerns with your drinking. 

Moving forward: Looking after your health with mindful drinking 

Mindful drinking can help you to pay attention to your choices around drinking and lead to living with attention to your health. It can support you to live a healthy and happy life in which you are fully in control of your decision-making. Making informed decisions that will benefit you and your overall health in the long-term.

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If you are interested in learning more about mindful drinking and potentially networking with mindful drinking groups, there are a variety of events and workshops available to attend. Becoming a member of a mindful drinking club provides access to a community that shares experiences, mindful drinking tips, and best practice. Clubs such as club soda promote a positive community in which members can access resources, online courses, alcohol-free drinks guides and much more to support them on their mindful drinking journey. 

With 21% of adults now saying that they do not drink alcohol at all, we are witnessing a huge trend of people taking control of their health and lifestyle choices that is showing no sign of fading any time soon.

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