We’re living in an era where Alcohol Use Disorder, Binge Drinking and Gray Area Drinking are at an all time high and it can be hard to discern what a healthy relationship with alcohol looks like. With the rise in alcohol misuse due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, unemployment and an overall decline in America's mental health, many are reevaluating how alcohol factors into their lives.
While abstinence from alcohol may be the solution for some, there are many who wish to simply change the way they drink, not quit. This could mean drinking less in general, sticking to certain types of alcohol, drinking on the weekends only– or better yet, setting an intention behind the way they drink. Rather than cycling through our unhealthy habits or using alcohol as a coping mechanism, the rise of a new way of drinking is becoming more popular and catching the attention of the younger generations; Mindful Drinking.
Coined by Rosamund Dean, journalist and author of “Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life,” Mindful Drinking means “bringing awareness to our behaviors in terms of our decision to drink alcohol: for example, tallying how many cocktails one consumes in a given night, or paying close attention to why, where and when one is drawn to drinking. (Blum, 2021) This approach to drinking is perfect for those looking to drink less and navigate their drinking from a place of intention rather than using alcohol as a habit or a crutch.
If you’re worried about your alcohol consumption or if you’re simply curious about drinking less, practicing Mindful Drinking can be a great step in the right direction. So if you’re interested in trying this approach, here are a few Reframe tips to help you become more mindful when it comes to your drinking habits:
- Ask Questions: Alcohol has become so culturally ingrained that we no longer question its presence. Birthday party? Booze. Wedding? Champagne. Date night? Drinks. Culturally, drinking isn’t just accepted– it’s expected. In order to change the narrative you need to ask yourself “do I need this glass of wine? or am I drinking because I think I should be, or to fit in.” Instantaneously you bring more awareness to each situation and begin to become more mindful of your drinking habits.
- Set a Limit: Here at Reframe we have an entire program dedicated to Mindful Drinking on our Cut-Back Track. This program encourages you to decrease your alcohol intake over time by setting safe, attainable weekly goals for how many drinks you want to have. We recommend that you decrease by 10% each week to avoid any negative physiological or psychological symptoms of PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome).
- Know your Intentions: For many of us drinking is simply a bad habit and like anything else that is repeated over time it becomes more commonplace the longer we continue to drink. Maybe you find yourself drinking to relax at the end of a long day, to destress after work or even to lessen your anxiety after an argument with your partner but while alcohol can be a temporary solution, it ultimately dulls today’s edge just to sharpen tomorrows. This is where things like hangiexty come into play, creating maladaptive patterns in our behaviors and lifestyles. In order to drink more mindfully, we need to know our intentions before we drink and make sure they are not a means of self medication or a coping mechanism. When we start to drink for those purposes we begin to tread into Gray Area Drinking waters, and even Mild Alcohol Use Disorder. A good way to start the practice of intentions is simply asking yourself “why do I need or want this drink” before deciding to imbibe (or not to!)
- Create a “Mindful Drinking Toolbox”: To practice more Mindful Drinking, ask yourself before each drink if you really need it or if you’re looking for a quick fix. Could the anxiety you're feeling instead be lessened by a boost of endorphins after a long run, or perhaps that 5 o’clock cocktail could be replaced by a 10 minute meditation for a dopamine boost? The answer is – absolutely. The practice of mindfulness and movement are two evidence-based techniques filled with ways to hack your happiness chemicals o-natural, minus the consequences that can come with a cocktail. According to MindfulToday.org, “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Some ways you can practice mindfulness are:
- Practicing meditation
- Breathing Exercises
- Grounding Techniques