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The Benefits of Mindful Drinking

April 21, 2023
10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 21, 2023
10 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
April 21, 2023
10 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
April 21, 2023
10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
April 21, 2023
10 min read

Whether it’s a celebratory toast or a bit of liquid courage to approach that cutie we’ve had our eye on at a party, for most of us, alcohol is an integral part of socializing. But when the good time turns into an all-night binge or an unhealthy habit, it can be hard to recognize the warning signs. That’s why mindful drinking has recently become an important topic of conversation.

When we think of mindfulness, alcohol is probably the last thing we’d associate it with. After all, many of us drink to escape reality and numb our feelings, not connect with them on a deeper level. But we’re here to make a bold claim: mindfulness and alcohol consumption are not mutually exclusive — we can mindfully engage in healthy drinking behaviors. And when we do, we reap tons of benefits. Let’s chat about them in this blog post.

What Is Mindful Drinking?

First of all, what exactly is mindful drinking? This practice is about being conscious of our drinking habits and making intentional decisions about when and how much to consume. It means acknowledging the impact that alcohol can have on our mental and physical health and understanding that it can be both a positive and negative influence. Mindful drinking is not about giving up alcohol altogether; it’s about drinking in moderation and having a full understanding of the consequences of overdrinking. It’s also about understanding that alcohol is not the only way to have a good time and that there are many other ways to enjoy ourselves without it.

When we drink mindfully, we allow ourselves to feel all of the sensations that arise while we’re drinking. We notice how we feel before we take the first sip, asking ourselves whether we’re anxious, sad, irritated, happy, or numb. If we find that we’re drinking to bury unpleasant feelings, mindful drinking would entail putting the glass or bottle down and deciding if something else would serve us better — like maybe a nap, a snack, or a conversation with a loved one.

Mindful drinking also entails that we pay attention to how the alcohol tastes, how it makes us feel physically, and how our mental state changes. The more we practice mindful drinking, the better we become at honoring our limits and not using alcohol as a means to escape.

Benefits of Mindful Drinking

Mindful drinking offers a variety of benefits for both our physical and emotional well-being. Here are a few of the most notable:

1. Improved physical health.

Regularly drinking to excess can lead to a variety of physical health issues, including liver damage, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. It can also mess with our sleep by throwing off our body’s natural cycles, which can make us more prone to illness. Mindful drinking helps reduce the risk of physical health issues because it encourages us to drink less, thus avoiding taxing our bodily systems.

2. Better mental health.

Habitual drinking can also have an adverse effect on our mental health. Though many of us may drink to alleviate mental health issues, countless studies have shown that too much alcohol can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Mindful drinking can keep us from throwing many of our chemical systems out of balance, which can perpetuate our mental health challenges. Furthermore, drinking too much can cause us to engage in behaviors that may lead to shame or guilt, further stressing us out. By paying attention to how much (and why) we drink, we can avoid overdoing it and can keep our emotions and actions in check.

3. Stronger relationships.

Drinking to excess can often lead to strained relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners. Mindful drinking helps ensure that we’re not making poor decisions or falling into responsible behavior patterns, protecting our relationships from excess conflict.

4. Enhanced cognition.

Prolonged alcohol use is associated with impaired cognition and can even make us more prone to developing Alzheimer’s. Years of heavy drinking can literally shrink the brain by leading to neuron degeneration, killing many of the healthy brain cells we need for optimal cognition. Mindful drinking both significantly slashes our risk of neurodegenerative diseases and leads to short-term cognitive improvements. Many individuals report feeling less brain fog and more mental clarity when they stop drinking as much.

5. Healthier complexion.

Finally, we can’t end a discussion on mindful drinking without touching on its effects on our physical appearance. Many of us may have noticed puffy eyes or dull skin after a night of heavy drinking. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it forces the body to excrete more water through our urine. We end up dehydrated, which can show up physically as a dull complexion, dry skin, and brittle hair and nails. The good news is that our bodies are capable of restoring themselves to balance once we start practicing mindful drinking.

Mindful drinking can ultimately give us back a lot of the control we surrender to alcohol when we drink habitually. It gives us control of our health, our emotions, and our actions, setting a solid foundation for a life of intention.

How To Practice Mindful Drinking

If you’re ready to experience the benefits of mindful drinking, a few tips and tricks can help you get started.

First, it’s important to set rules for yourself. This can include limiting yourself to a certain number of drinks per night and switching over to mocktails, soft drinks, or water once you’ve reached the limit. Setting these rules can help you stay in control of your drinking and ensure that you’re not overdoing it.

It’s also easy to get carried away with drinking if you’re not mindful of how much you’re consuming. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to take regular breaks. This can mean spacing out your drinks or taking a longer break through one of Reframe’s cutback or sobriety challenges. Stepping away and viewing our relationship with alcohol nonjudgmentally can give us important insights into where we’d like to make changes.

Also, when it comes to mindful drinking, it’s important to alternate your drinks. This means switching between alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks like water, soda, or a tasty mocktail. Doing this can help keep you hydrated and avoid any unwanted hangovers or hangxiety the next morning.

Finally, make sure you’re eating! Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to feeling the effects of alcohol much faster. Before you start drinking, make sure you’re eating a nutrient-dense meal with plenty of protein. This can help slow the absorption of alcohol and ensure that you don’t get too drunk too quickly. Prior to drinking, avoid eating foods that can trigger indigestion or heartburn, like spicy chicken wings or a greasy burger. Also, skip the refined grains like white bread or white rice and instead opt for complex carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa. These will keep your blood sugar more stable and can prevent overeating later on in the night.

Start Your Mindful Drinking Journey With Reframe!

The first step in making any major changes is awareness. When we embrace mindful drinking, we can tap into profound levels of awareness around our drinking habits and our relationship with alcohol. This empowers us to take control of our alcohol use. And when we drink mindfully, we benefit in so many ways — from a reduced risk of several diseases to more balanced relationships. The benefits are truly endless!

So, are you ready to kickstart your mindful drinking today? Our world-renowned app will give you the steps to start cultivating a mindful lifestyle, not just in terms of your drinking habits, but all around. From our evidence-based Cravings Timer to daily drink, mood, stress, and appetite tracking, we’ll guide you on your journey 100% of the way.

Oh, and we can’t forget to mention our daily neuroscience-based readings and reflection activities, which will continue to empower you with knowledge and wisdom to supercharge your personal growth. At Reframe, we’re about science, not sigma. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to empathize, connect, and evolve… together.

We’ve got an incredible program waiting for you, so head on over to the App Store and download our #1 iOS-ranked app today. We can’t wait to help you unlock your full potential and experience the myriad benefits of mindful drinking. See you soon!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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