Nurture your wellbeing: tips for reducing alcohol consumption

Are you concerned about drinking more than you know you want to, whether it’s a habit you want to break for health reasons or it’s affecting your sleep having a knock on effect the next day, or simply it’s because all the festive season parties are coming at once. Whatever your reason, we have some ideas that might help you achieve your goal.

Before we start, if you know how much you’re drinking then you can start setting some targets to reduce it. Take a look at our article on understanding units of alcohol to work out your consumption.

  1. The recommendation for healthy consumption is to limit yourself to no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. If you’re drinking more than this on a regular basis then you might start by setting yourself a goal to reduce your consumption to this level.
  1. Set yourself alcohol free days each week. Maybe start with one day free then add another. For some, it might be easier to decide not to drink at all for a period of time and see how that feels. It can be easier to drink healthily if you’ve been alcohol free for a few weeks. Indeed, many people choose to have a totally ‘dry January’ after the festive season.

By far the bigger problem for many is social pressure to drink and this can be difficult to manage.

  1. Our first tip is to offer to be the driver for the evening out. Being responsible for ferrying your mates around is the perfect reason to be alcohol-free for the evening.
  1. Alcohol-free drinks. There are so many of these available to purchase; beers, lagers, spirits especially gins and wines – you’re bound to find a 0% alcohol version of your favourite tipple that looks the same, tastes the same but without the alcohol you’re trying to avoid.
  1. A glass of tonic or sparking water with ice and a slice of lemon cannot be distinguished from a spirit and mixer.
  1. Find a friend who shares your goal of limiting alcohol consumption. Support each other throughout the event, checking in and encouraging each other to make healthy choices.
  1. If you choose to have a drink then go for a smaller glass to limit the amount you’re drinking.
  1. Pace yourself by taking small sips and engaging in conversation between each. This will help slow down your alcohol intake and keep you in control.
  1. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Drinking water alongside alcoholic beverages keeps the body hydrated, slows alcohol ingestion, reduces toxicity and hangovers, and lowers calorie intake. It’s a simple way to moderate intake.
  1. At parties, master the art of politely refusing another drink or if that isn’t accepted or feels uncomfortable then excuse yourself from the group and mingle with other guests. Reassure others that you’re having every bit as much fun as they are.
  1. Prioritise your wellbeing and remind yourself you’re there to socialise and enjoy yourself, not to overindulge. Taking care of your physical and mental health should always be your top priority.
  1. Eat before you go out, then during the event, fill your plate with snacks. Food slows down the absorption of alcohol, keeping you level-headed and less likely to overindulge.
  1. Disappear! If you feel the pressure to drink more than you’re comfortable with, politely excuse yourself and take a break. Find a quiet spot to recharge and regroup before rejoining the festivities.
  1. Plan your exit. Set a mental alarm for when you’re ready to leave the event. Stick to your plan and don’t let the party pressure you into staying longer than you intended.

Hopefully, you’ll find one or two of these tips helpful in pursuing your goals to healthier alcohol consumption.

Always remember that if you are concerned about your drinking then please do make an appointment to discuss it with your GP.