With a rise in social movements surrounding mental health, environmental impact and general consumption, Millennials and Gen Zs are taking on a new health craze– 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.
Over the past few years, the sober curious movement has really shone a light onto the negative effects of drinking and more people are beginning to question the way they consume alcohol. According to the NIH, An estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. With a strong focus on improving mental health for all, younger generations are making a concerted effort to drink less. Gen Z and Millennials have embraced sobriety over alcohol consumption. They have forced the alcohol industry to revamp how and what they market and sell. And there’s been a significant shift in what bars serve, even establishing all dry venues like Sans Bar of Austin, Tx and Awake in Denver, CO.
The Mindful Drinking Mindset
Millennials and Gen Zers around the world are drinking less than older generations did at their ages. A 2018 report from Berenberg Research found that respondents in their teens and early 20s were drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials — who drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers — did at the same age. Younger generations are surrounded by technology and understand the consequences of pictures and videos that can now live forever in the Cloud. They fear what will happen when they lose control and how their actions may appear on social media. As a result, they consume less than their parent’s generation did as teenagers. They are also drinking less than their parents are drinking today.
A survey of 3,400 Millennials and Gen Zers about their drinking habits discovered that 57 percent said they’d rather go to the gym for an hour rather than to a bar. 69 percent of them find heavy drinking culture boring. 86 percent of Gen Z feel mental health is just as important a consideration as their physical health. 70 percent consider binge drinking as a “very risky” activity, and 41 percent associate alcohol with “vulnerability,’ “anxiety,” and “abuse.”
Maybe you’ve decided to cut back on your drinking. Maybe you want to get into better physical shape. Maybe you’re tired of hangovers and hanxiety. No matter the reason, you are not alone! Hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded the Reframe App to change their relationship with alcohol. If you can relate and have wanted to try cutting back and drinking more mindfully, try **taking our 2-minute quiz to get started**.
Tips for Drinking Less
- Ask yourself: “Why am I drinking?” Play the tape forward and decide if you’re going to look back on this drink with joy, or with regret. If it’s joy, then have that drink. If it’s regret, then it’s best to reach for a healthier coping mechanism or a supportive friend.
- Plan some drink-free distractions: It could be taking a run in nature, having a hot bath or a healthy snack, calling a sober buddy, watching a Netflix show, hitting the golf course with friends… find what works for you and make a list that you can refer to when that craving hits. Having ways to distract yourself will help you break the habit loop of regularly opening a bottle of wine or spirits.
- Drink mindfully: When you do drink, try to fully appreciate every sip. Then you’re less likely to throw back more than you intended. 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!)
- Track your progress: Research has shown that monitoring habits helps improve them. This is why people who want to lose weight are advised to keep a food diary, or people who want to save money should keep a record of their spending. Ultimately, it all comes back to awareness. Being mindful of how much you’re drinking, and why, will make better choices happen naturally. Using your Reframe App, you can track your daily intake and set weekly and monthly goals to stay on track.
- Embrace the Rule of Three: Aiming to simply ‘drink less’ is too broad a goal. Be more specific in your ambition. That’s where the Rule Of Three comes in– try sticking to only drinking three days per week and never more than three drinks each time (your specific numbers might be different but you get the idea). It’s easy to remember and simpler than counting units.
Experiment with Alcohol-Free Drinks
With the rise of the “no/low” alcoholic beverage movement, the availability of non-alcoholic beverages has been massive. From mocktail menus, to alcohol-free bars, non-alcoholic bottle shops and even online subscriptions that allow you to order different kinds of drinks right to your doorstep, like Better Rhodes, there is no shortage of NA drinks to try!
Now some people may think “hey what’s the point in that?” But we’re here to tell you the amazing benefits of drinking non-alcoholic beverages over alcoholic ones:
- Dopamine: One of the reasons why non-alcoholic beer is an effective replacement for alcoholic drinks is because your body associates the flavor and smell with full-strength beer. This leads it to produce dopamine, the same chemical that makes you feel good when you drink alcohol. Research has also found that drinking non-alcoholic beer gives you the same feelings of reward as full-strength beer. This means you get some of the positive effects of alcohol with alcohol-free beer, without the negative consequences.
- It’s Actually Healthy: Non-alcoholic beer has several health benefits making it one of the healthiest drinks available behind the bar. For instance, drinking non-alcoholic beer can reduce your risk of heart disease, help you sleep, aid bone growth and reduce your risk of getting illnesses like the common cold.
- Less Calories: Alcohol contains 56 calories a unit. These are “empty” calories, because they provide no nutritional value. Swap a pint of 4.5% ABV beer for an equivalent 0% or 0.5% beer and you’ll be saving yourself up to 145 calories from alcohol alone. That’s about the same amount of calories as what you get in six teaspoons of sugar.
- It Helps Us Fit In: We live in a culture where drinking – rather than not drinking – is the norm. Yet the reality is that there are many situations where not drinking alcohol can make you feel like an outsider, especially when you’re nursing yet another lime and soda or cheap orange juice. This is where non-alcoholic beer or wine can help. It looks like beer or wine. It smells like beer or wine. It tastes like beer or wine– because it is beer or wine, just dealcoholized.