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What exactly is mindful drinking?

Join the alcohol-conscious tribe

It’s finally happened – getting sober has become sexy!

Drinking rates among Brits are at their lowest since 2005, with a national survey revealing the proportion of people who drank alcohol at least once a week had dropped from 64.2 per cent of adults to 56.9 in 2016.

Dry bars (alcohol-free zones) are popping up everywhere and sober club nights and social groups have exploded in popularity, while apps and books on monitoring alcohol intake are now a staple on every shelf and smartphone.

Millennials in particular are ditching binge drinking and embracing a more health-conscious and clean living way of life; great news for livers, and the body and mind in general.

So if you’d like to reboot your relationship with alcohol, why not give mindful drinking a try? A more conscious approach to alcohol, will help you appreciate any drinks you DO have more, and you won’t be paying for it the morning after…

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Step 1: Go cold turkey

Just like rebooting your computer, you need to literally turn your relationship with alcohol off and back on again – a smart way to do this is with a 28-day clean break. Short enough to be manageable enough to stop drinking for, but long enough to be a challenge, it will help mark the end of any unhealthy relationships with alcohol.

This will help you identify what your key triggers to drinking are – be they people, places or emotions, so you can plan how you are going to tackle them when you come back to moderation. This is when you build up the tools to keep on track with mindful drinking long-term.

Step 2: Find your signature

Spend time discovering a non-alcoholic drink you actually enjoy, as your ‘go to’ when you’re out socialising. This way you won’t end up floundering at the bar and caving in to a glass of wine under pressure. If you’ve been having a drink at the end of the day as your ‘reward’ for making it through, stock your fridge with some delicious soft drink alternatives. Who says treats have to be bad for you anyway?

Step 3: Make a plan

Spend some time each morning visualising your day and identifying any potential trip-ups and creating a strategy for dealing with them so you won’t be thrown off track.

Step 4: Time to get mindful

Now you’ve completed your 28 days drink-free and you’re ready to reintroduce alcohol into your life, it’s wise to identify five goals going forward to keep you on track. Why did you decide to get mindful with alcohol? Do you want better relationships? Have more money? Boost your energy? Beat your anxiety? To lose weight? Write your positive goals down and stick them somewhere you’ll see them each day.

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Draw up rules for your new drinking relationship, such as how many alcohol-free days do you want each week? What’s the maximum number of drinks you’ll let yourself have? How will you keep track of your success? Which situations/drinks do you need to avoid to stop you going off the rails?

The takeaway here is if you are going to drink, you need to plan to drink and know that it’s going to be something you enjoy, not regret later on. If it doesn’t follow the guidelines you’ve set yourself above, then you know you shouldn’t be doing it.

Step 5: Drink-free distractions

Draw up a list of things to do or ways to treat yourself when you’re bored or want a reward when you’d usually reach for a glass. These could be anything from treating yourself to a glossy magazine, heading to the gym or giving yourself a pampering face mask or manicure at home.

Step 6: The follow up

Mark on your calendar every few months to review, check back in with your rules, and motivations and distractions list (which are working and which aren’t? Are you staying on track?). And don’t beat yourself up – every day is a new day and if you’ve slipped up, spend some time reflecting on what threw you a curveball and come up with some winning strategies for stopping that happening again.

There really only is a better life awaiting with mindful drinking. You’ll be sharper, slimmer, smarter, healthier and glowing from inside, with fewer regrets and more money, better sleep and you’ll even boost your work performance. We’ll certainly be drinking (mindfully) to that.

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Mindful Drinking How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life, Rosamund Dean

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