Explore the topic of mindful drinking, a concept that encourages you to be more aware and present as you drink to develop a healthier relationship with alcohol.
Drinking alcohol is so ingrained in our culture that it’s easy to overlook how much you might be drinking or if it could become a problem. According to the CDC, in 2018, two-thirds of adults aged 18 and over consumed alcohol in that past year, and 5.1% of adults over 18 engaged in what is known as heavy drinking (drinking more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week for men or seven alcoholic drinks per week for women).
If you believe your drinking might be a problem, want tips to quit drinking or are curious about how to be a mindful drinker, read on to learn how coming at alcohol from a more mindful place can change your relationship with drinking for the better.
‘Mindfulness Drinking’: Exploring the Concept and Its Effectiveness
Mindful drinking is a practice that refers to developing more self-awareness about your drinking and being more present when you drink. It’s a method that’s grown in popularity over the years as many people are reassessing their relationship with alcohol.
At its core, mindfulness drinking is about thinking before drinking. It’s often more difficult than it might sound. Consider how common drinking is at social events, at celebrations or even in everyday life. You might have a glass of wine each night while making dinner, propose a toast at a party or make plans with friends centered around drinking, like meeting up after work for happy hour at a bar.
By embracing more mindful drinking, you’re encouraged to actively think before you take a drink, as well as to track how many drinks you have over the course of a day or evening out. Even just taking a short pause before putting in a drink order and asking yourself if it’s truly what you want or if it will truly serve you is an important step toward drinking more mindfully. Rather than automatically going for a drink, you have a moment to evaluate what that drink will mean for you, and then you can decide from there.
The concept of mindful drinking also speaks to being more aware as you have a drink. Rather than tossing it back and moving on to the next one, slowly sipping or savoring a drink brings you into the present moment — a classic component of mindfulness. If you can’t savor a drink for what it is, you may be drinking for the wrong reasons, such as to change your mindset or lower your inhibitions. Those motivations are worth being honest with yourself about and thinking about changing.
Mindful Drinking: Can It Change Your Relationship With Alcohol?
Whether you want to stop drinking completely or simply reevaluate your relationship with alcohol, trying a more mindful approach is a great place to start.
By being more present in your decision-making about alcohol, you can better understand what it means to you. Pausing before ordering a go-to drink in a situation where you’d typically order without thinking can urge you to think about why it’s become such an ingrained habit. What would happen if you chose to forgo the drink that time? Do you lose a sense of confidence in your ability to socialize? Do you fear you won’t have as much fun or you’ll miss out on the fun other people are having?
Simply thinking about these questions helps you notice if alcohol has been functioning as a crutch for you in life and allows you to evaluate if you want to maintain that relationship or actively work to change it.
You can also explore mindful drinking by planning ahead before you go out to an event. If you set a boundary with yourself beforehand, such as planning to only have two drinks over the course of the night, it can help you be more present as you consume those drinks and more thoughtful about when you have them. Simply trying these sorts of thoughtful exercises with yourself can open you up to a new way of thinking about your drinking and rethink your relationship with alcohol. If you’re finding it difficult to stay within the boundaries you’ve set, you can consider why that might be and if you need help keeping your drinking in check.
The Power of Mindful Drinking: Examining Its Impact on Health and Well-Being
Choosing to drink more mindfully can benefit your physical and mental health. Reducing your alcohol intake lessens your chance of developing a number of common cancers, allows your brain to function more effectively and takes pressure off your cardiovascular system as well as your liver. Further, drinking less can help you get better sleep, which is beneficial for your mood, memory and ability to retain information.
Mindful drinking can also help you make important mental breakthroughs, teaching you to rely on other, healthier methods to boost your confidence and showing that you don’t need a substance to cope with certain parts of your life.
Frequent drinking can lead to higher incidences of anxiety and depression, so using mindfulness drinking to lower your alcohol consumption may stabilize your mood and decrease your chance of struggling with those common mental illnesses.
Another potential benefit to mindful drinking is that it’s a healthy way to help manage your weight. Drinking excessively can lead to extra calories your body doesn’t need, so cutting back often helps people shed pounds over time.
Reach Out for Help: You Don’t Need to Go at Mindful Drinking Alone
If you want to explore mindful drinking or are thinking, “How do I stop drinking completely?” know that support is out there for you. Experts are ready and waiting for your call at Sun Health Center 24/7, so please reach out to get started on a treatment plan with one of our professionals. We can help you reassess your relationship with alcohol so you can live your happiest, healthiest life.