The Practice of Mindful Drinking

The concept of having a conscious approach to how we live our lives has been long practised through mindful eating, mindful breathing and now mindful drinking. In 2017, a group of people in the UK called Club Soda decided to host an event called the Mindful Drinking Festival. This was hugely successful and a new trend emerged. Around the same time, Britain saw a rapid decrease in alcohol consumption, particularly among its younger population. Now social media such as Facebook and Instagram are leading the charge in this trend.

Mindful drinking is the conscious approach to alcohol consumption. This begins with paying attention and noticing where and when you drink and who you drink with, even if you drink alone. When you drink mindfully, you have a heightened awareness of the effect alcohol has on your body and mind. You also remain in control of the way you think, feel and relate to the world and others. Fundamentally, mindful drinking is about having full awareness about your relationship with alcohol and understanding how and why you drink. It’s also about knowing that you are in control of that relationship.

Benefits of mindful drinking

Approaching drinking with more awareness has many benefits. For starters, this means your decision to have each drink is well thought out. If reducing your alcohol consumption is one of your goals, then mindful drinking can help you achieve this.

Mindful drinking can assist with more responsible drinking and potentially be a middle path to sustained change. Being present, paying attention and just noticing what is going on with yourself and around you, in a non-judgemental way can lead you to a sense of calm and kindness. The benefits of this can lead you to a place of acceptance and to be open to understanding your relationship with alcohol. You can start to decide what role you want alcohol to play in your life. This can motivate you to make healthier choices.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to mindful drinking.The key is to be present in the here and now. Pay attention to every sip you take, and with intention focus on the sensations it may evoke at that moment.

Mindful drinking can improve the quality of your sleep, resulting in restoration in energy levels and a heightened immune system. This generates more energy for physical exercise. Mindful drinking also helps you tap into your self-awareness more frequently and empower you to feel more in control. This can instil a sense of self-confidence that results in better decision-making.

If you use alcohol as a coping mechanism to numb or avoid uncomfortable feelings or situations, then mindful drinking can help bring awareness to more helpful coping methods. It can help with setting goals and committing to achieving your health and wellness plan.

While many people are still in lockdown and adjusting the way they socialise via the virtual environment, mindful drinking could enhance your social life too. There is a greater choice and range of tastes in low- and non-alcoholic drinks and an increased interest in health and wellbeing, especially in response to COVID-19. People are aware of making healthier choices. Below are six practical tips to get you started.

Six Practical Tips for Mindful Drinking

1. Plan ahead

Plan where you are going or what you would like to order. Research what beverages are available. Tweet the supplier or venue beforehand to check if they supply low- or non-alcohol drinks. Otherwise, find another place that will accommodate your requirements.

2. Check in with yourself before an occasion

Take your time preparing for the occasion regardless of whether you are going out or planning a virtual soiree. Begin with a 10-minute relaxation breathing exercise to help you feel calmer. Download a mindfulness relaxation app to get you started.

3. Stick to your intentions

Don’t act on a flash of indecision. Give yourself a moment to anchor your thoughts and reconsider your order. Ask yourself, ‘Is this what I want right now?’ and ‘Does this behaviour support me physically, mentally and emotionally?’. Stay present and mindful. Remind yourself of all the benefits of sticking to your intentions.

4. You are not alone

When you are socialising it’s easy to feel like you might be missing out on a good time if you don’t let your hair down. Broaden your perspective and start to notice how many other people around you are being mindful about their drinking too.

5. Savour your drink

Savouring is about pausing to appreciate the aroma, flavour and texture of each drink. Focus on the sensation of the beverage touching your lips. Stay in the moment and immerse yourself in the experience and ambiance of the environment you are in. Draw your attention to your feelings. Love what you drink or don’t drink it!

6. Set the example

Be proud and own your decision to practise mindful drinking. Say it out loud and kindly remind yourself that you don’t need permission nor anyone’s approval to make a decision that you know is right for you.

No matter which path you take when changing your relationship with alcohol, Hello Sunday Morning and the Daybreak community are here to support you along your journey.

Dominique Robert-Hendren MAPS 2021

Chief Clinical Psychologist

19 Comments

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  • This is great! First I’ve heard of ‘mindful drinking’! I was basically on that path (tasting, sipping, being more aware) when my husband and I decided to take a break from alcohol a month ago. These are helpful tips, thank you!

    By Lisa
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    August 14, 2021
  • Excellent article with helpful suggestions on mindful drinking for those who are on a journey to reduce/quit alcohol consumption. Thank you

    By Jane
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    August 14, 2021
  • This a great article. I believe mindful drinking is a way out of the horrible cycle of alcohol. After stopping drinking for a couple of years I can now enjoy a glass a red without guilt. I know consciously that wine is toxic in large doses. I know it makes me sick, I know it changes my brain chemistry, I know it lowers my immunity.
    The poison is in the dosage.
    Mindful drinking has given me a chance to revisit a glass of red – with a good outcome.

    By Mslil
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    August 14, 2021
    • That is where I want to be. I am forcing myself not to drink, because I am scared of 1. But I like drink and I miss it. I want to be in a safe and responsible place and enjoy what I do miss-but in moderation.

      By Gregory Robertson
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      August 14, 2021
  • I’ve spent some time on this site, reading the blogs and people’s comments because I really want support and affirmation for not drinking and honestly this place has become more about “ the excuse “ to drink than the reason “ not to drink “. I know what moderate is and while I may be able to moderate some of the time with “ careful planning “ as outlined in this article almost always the very nature of alcohol gets inside your head and drinking too much is inevitable.
    This is another mind boggle of an article that really pulls you in the wrong direction like the “ fancy glasses article “ within a mind set of “ there is no safe level of alcohol “ Truely there isn’t. And in Lockdown alcohol is not essential other than to the government.
    I think it’s time to find alternate reading material and support mechanisms as while you pander to the excuse to drink, which there are many, just take a walk down the shops, turn on a sports broadcast or read a newspaper, you actually are causing huge conflict with the ideal of abstinence, all in not drinking. What a conflict. It doesn’t take much to tip an addict in the wrong direction and articles like this are truely damaging. At least they are for me, a long term drinker who has tried every planning, sip sip, moderation trick you can think of….and I’m sure it is for others…..so, good luck if you can drink at present in moderation with the tips and tricks in this article. Just be aware that it won’t always be like that. It’s just the nature of the drug.

    By Jason
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    August 14, 2021
    • Here Here!
      For problem drinkers and alcoholics, ABSTINENCE is the only way.

      By POM
      |
      August 14, 2021
    • Thank you this is very helpful

      By Clare
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      August 14, 2021
    • Thank you for your honest and inciteful comment which I will take to heart.

      By Norma
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      August 14, 2021
    • I agree! Well said 🥰

      By Annika
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      August 14, 2021
    • My experience tells me the same…

      By Liz
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      August 14, 2021
    • Hi Jason, you are bang on the money there and like you my mindfulness tells me the following; don’t buy alcohol, don’t have it in the house for visitors, avoid old drinking buddies and gatherings where alcohol is expected and avoid situations that trigger one into turning to the bottle. In other words practice self care VERY CAREFULLY because the lure of alcohol is SO powerful for us who are addicted …savoring one drink ? forget it, the bottle would be half finished in a twink and the rest a short period later and looking for the second. If you can ‘moderate’ booze to one standard drink a day then I don’t think you have a drinking problem in the first place. But good luck to those who can.

      By Jennifer Douglas
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      August 14, 2021
    • You make some really great points here. For reading material, may I suggest Drinking Sucks buy Chris Scott. It’s been really helpful to me and takes a different approach I think you might appreciate. I’ve been using his supplement reccomendations and they have been life changing. Or try searching Fit Recovery for his online stuff and a podcast.

      By Cassie
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      August 15, 2021
    • Jason, you have just articulated exactly what I was thinking whilst reading this article about Mindful Drinking. From an addict’s point of view, one drink is one too many. And based on information I acquired whilst in rehab, only about 3% of addicts can practise controlled drinking. Last week I recorded 14 weeks sobriety and I am trying to focus on success rather than fear of failure. I am trying to live life mindfully and focus on the here and now. However, looking back on my past behaviours whilst intoxicated makes me cringe and wish I could go back and enjoy these life events sober. I think that living life mindfully is better than drinking mindfully.

      By Lynda
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      August 16, 2021
      • Absolutely agree Lynda. As with every one else reading all of this, we are looking to overcome the past and live a different/new life in the future (being alcohol free).

        By Marie
        |
        August 17, 2021
    • Hi Jason,
      Thank you for your comment.
      We are sorry to hear the content we share might not be serving you as it used to.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to inspire people to achieve a healthier relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.
      We don’t deal exclusively with addiction, but support people to choose the level they’re comfortable with, if they’re in a position to choose.

      We are grateful for your feedback and we might start introducing a trigger warning for our blog articles that talk about moderation.

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 16, 2021
  • Wow
    Good advice..
    “Say it out load & kindly remind yourself that you don’t need permission nor anyones approval to make decision that you know is right for you”
    Thats gunna be my new mantra…..

    By Dennis Morrison
    |
    August 14, 2021
  • Excellent article! Very thoughtful, real & helpful.
    Thank you.

    By AKS
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    August 14, 2021
  • Thank you I will try this. It may help me, take at least one night off alcohol. As I always feel lost without it!

    By Pam Bluett
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    August 15, 2021
    • I agree HSM, We must remember that there are some folks who need to abstain completely. Understood.

      There are also some who wish to manage a single glass of wine with food, as utilized in many healthy lifestyles.

      HSM is not AA.

      By hans bauer
      |
      August 19, 2021
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