The mindful drinking trend has grown dramatically in the last few years, with #sobercurious, #hangoverfree and #mindfuldrinking clocking up over a million posts on Instagram.
At the same time, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that on the whole, Aussies are drinking less. And a 2022 study from La Trobe found more young Aussies are shunning alcohol than ever before. If that’s not enough evidence for you, data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows that the NOLO (non-alcoholic and low alcohol) drinks sector is not only on the rise, it’s also outperforming their alcoholic counterpart.
All this goes to show that mindful drinking is here to say. And with the new year just around the corner, it could be the best new year resolution you’ve ever made. To help you get started, I’ve put together a guide to mindful drinking along with some tried and tested tips that will help keep you on track.
What is mindful drinking?
In a nutshell, mindful drinking is about creating a healthier relationship with alcohol. This will look different for different people, but it will probably include drinking less, drinking less often or slowing down. In contrast to the ‘all or nothing’ mindset, the joy of mindful drinking is that it is an easy way to enjoy the middle ground.
It’s been shown that mindful drinking generates positive feelings. A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that young people who practice mindful drinking experience self-determination, self-esteem and a sense of authenticity.
There are also multiple benefits of drinking less alcohol including improved sleep, more energy, increased motivation and better concentration. And on top of this, mindful drinking supports other wellness goals such as losing weight, getting fitter and completing a challenge.
How non-alcoholic drinks support mindful drinking
When I first stopped drinking alcohol and switched to non-alcoholic wine, I discovered drinking culture isn’t about getting drunk, it’s about social rituals, traditions and experiences.
Non-alcoholic drinks such as non-alcoholic wine, non-alcoholic spirits and mocktails play a huge role in drinking more mindfully because they allow us to fulfil all of these cultural needs without alcohol.
In other words, non-alcoholic drinks provide the same sense of occasion and fun. For example, if you’re at a wedding or birthday party with a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling wine in your hand, you won’t feel left out when it's time to raise your glass for a toast.
Non-alcoholic drinks are also an easy solution to the issue of what to drink when you’re not drinking. You can swap your regular drink for its non-alcoholic equivalent or have fun exploring the hundreds of options available.
How to make your mindful drinking new year resolution stick
The new year is a great time to start a new habit. A new year represents a blank slate which can be a powerful metaphor for change.
Having said that, new year's resolutions are notoriously hard to stick to. In fact, a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found even with the best intentions, most people give up on their new year's resolutions within the first month.
With that in mind, it’s good to approach your mindful drinking new year resolution with a full toolbox. Here are some easy-to-follow tips and tricks to get you started.
1. Start small
When it comes to mindful drinking, the goal is to cut back on alcohol rather than abstain altogether, so you’ll find that making small changes over time is much more sustainable than big, drastic ones.
Start by increasing the number of alcohol-free days you have in a week or by sticking to one or two alcoholic drinks in a session. When you’re setting rules for yourself, be as specific as possible. It is easier to stick to a precise number of drinks or alcohol-free days than a vague goal to cut down on drinking.
2. Celebrate success
Keep track of your progress so you can celebrate every milestone. Whether you do this via an app or a good old-fashioned diary, it will help you acknowledge yourself for sticking with it.
You might also find it helpful to record the benefits of drinking less as well as some of the benefits of drinking non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits as this will remind you that mindful drinking is worth the effort.
It is completely fine to be proud of yourself for sticking with mindful drinking. Tell others about your milestones, accept praise and reward yourself. You’ll be surprised how many people you inspire.
3. Stay social
When you’re cutting down, it can be tempting to stay home and avoid the temptation of alcohol, especially if catching up with your friends usually involves a night out on the town.
Rather than missing out on social situations, try changing the way you socialise. There are lots of ways to socialise without alcohol, for example, there is much less pressure to drink at a day spa than at a cocktail bar.
4. Plan ahead
Try to avoid getting caught in a situation where accepting an alcoholic drink feels like your only option. You can ensure this doesn’t happen by planning ahead.
This means finding out about non-alcoholic drinks ahead of time. For example, if you’re meeting friends for dinner, try a BYO restaurant so you can take a good quality non-alcoholic wine with you.
5. Find your tribe
Having a network of supportive friends is the key to cutting back on alcohol. Start by having honest conversations with the people in your life and explain why you want to practice mindful drinking. When friends and family understand why you want to drink more mindfully they’re less likely to pressure you to ‘just have one.’
You’re likely to find a few friends who are also keen to cut back which opens up a great opportunity for mutual support. Spending time with friends without alcohol allows us to stay more present, which in turn creates more meaningful connections.
6. Don’t beat yourself up
There will definitely be times when mindful drinking is hard and from time to time, you might slip up. When this happens, it’s important to review what went wrong so you can make a plan to avoid the same thing happening again.
It’s also important to draw a line under the slip and move on. Mindful drinking is a habit you’ll need to practice, but if you keep at it, one day it will feel as natural as brushing your teeth.
Mindful drinking for life
If you’re keen to explore the world of non-alcoholic drinks, I’m here to help. You can find all the best non-alcoholic wine, beer and mocktails on my site along with thousands of helpful customer reviews. If you’d like to hear about new non-alcoholic drinks and special offers, please sign up to my newsletter. You can also follow me on Instagram where I share frequent updates along with mocktail recipes and live taste tests.
I hope this guide has inspired you to make mindful drinking your new year resolution and given you some good strategies to help it stick. Mindful drinking is a habit that has the potential to improve every area of your life. Once you’ve started, you’ll never look back!