Mindful Drinking

Mindful drinking is an attitude.

You can change the way you think and feel about alcohol. When you drink mindfully, you become aware of how your body and mind are affected, and can decide if you’re okay with that. You get that bit of space to take control of your drinking habits.

For a lot of people, mindful drinking involves moderation. That could be a lower percentage drink, cutting down for a week, doing a sober sprint, or even going alcohol free. Motivations vary too. You could have a slimming or fitness goal, want to save cash, keep your mind sharp, or just not up for drinking tonight.

Mindful drinking cocktail glass

Remember this – drinking alcohol is not compulsory.

Being mindful about your drinking is all about deciding what is right for you today. You are in control.

The seven habits of highly mindful drinkers

1. Plan

Winging and mindfulness don’t go so well together. So plan, plan, plan. Look for pubs and bars with great low and no alcohol beverages, so that you can choose to drink or not to drink. Tweet them, call in advance – find a new local that cares about you and what you want to drink.

2. Don’t panic

“Erm, erm, erm! White wine!” Stay strong at the bar. Don’t let a flash of indecision make you fall back on ‘the usual’. Take your time. Stay mindful. Chat to the bar staff about what you want to drink, and what they have on offer. They might love the challenge of whipping you up a virgin cocktail!

There are plenty of people who never drink and who are cutting down (one in five people, actually). So you can take a few minutes to decide on your order.

3. Fake it

Sometimes you just don’t want another boring conversation about why you are not having a ‘proper’ drink. So fly below the radar. Three sneaky tips…

  1. Arrange a ‘usual’ with the bar staff. They love helping you fake a Gin and Tonic (T&T) or putting a fizzy elderflower in a dressed up champagne glass.
  2. The never-ending shandy. Start with the lowest alcohol beer you can find, and just keep topping it up with lemonade or soda at each round.
  3. Pimp your water. Not sure if the pub you’re going to has something you like? Smuggle in a bottle of your favourite cordial and pimp your fizzy water all night

4. Assess your mood

Drinking when you’re happy can be great. But drinking when you’re lonely, tired and emotional? You know how that ends. Rather than add a hangover to your problems, face them head on. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Think ‘HALT’! Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Probably best to look after yourself rather than hide in drink. Listen to what your body needs.

5. Stick to your guns

Make your decision, put it into words and practice saying it out loud, “I have decided not to drink tonight, as I’m saving myself for the weekend.”

If friends won’t give up trying to persuade you, shift the spotlight onto them. How was their day? What’s the best cat meme they’ve seen? Just move the discussion away from your drinking choices.

Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to make a decision that is right for you. No one has the right to persuade you otherwise.

6. Safety in numbers

Everyone else is drinking, right? Well, not really. When you start to look around, you realise how many people aren’t drinking. Your pregnant friend, your friend on a health kick, your Muslim friend, and even just your friend who had too much last night and is nursing a wicked hangover. Seek them out, and go out together. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a crowd of people drinking alcohol, a crowd of your own can really help.

7. Be an active customer

If we want our pubs to stay on the high street, we need to stay friends. You want them to stock a great tipple; they want to know what drinks will keep you coming back. So ask them to stock your favourite non-alcoholic beers or craft sodas. Before they know it, those non-alcoholic drinks will be flying off the shelves.

And spread the word for other mindful drinkers. Share why your local is awesome for mindful drinkers by reviewing them on the Club Soda Guide.

You can even tweet about your best and worst experiences and share it with us @clubsodaguide.