#AD: This is a paid partnership with Drinkaware
The pumpkin spice candle is lit, the clocks are going back. All my blankets have re-emerged from their cupboards and the heating timer is set. Yep, autumn is now well and truly here but this year is a little different for me because for the first time, I’m changing up my typical mood of “it’s dark and cold and I want a drink” to “it’s dark and cold, let’s have a cuppa” (or some other activity, like sitting down to write, reading – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is incredible FYI, or getting stuck into a new boxset. Currently Chernobyl).
Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on the #DrinkFreeDays campaign in collaboration with the Drinkaware Trust, aimed at the 40-64 age group (which is one I’m hurtling rapidly towards at breakneck speed), to encourage us to switch out the habit of reaching for a glass of wine or G&T and doing something else instead, thereby leading a healthier lifestyle.
It’s been a really interesting experiment, both to think about my own habits and discuss openly with others. To consider the impact of alcohol on our culture and look at whether younger generations are changing their ways comparing to the one I grew up in. Is JOMO the new FOMO? Based around conversations I’ve had both with younger friends in real life and in response to my very candid Stories over on Instagram, I’d have to say there’s a clear shift away from alcohol excess with young people.
When I was a teenager in the 90s, Britpop was at its height and ‘Ladette’ culture in full bloom – women were shown that they could drink like men and it was definitely considered aspirational for me and my friends at the time even though we were under the legal drinking age. The newspaper and magazine stories seemed so carefree and the marketing of alcopops was rampant. I can guarantee if I explored this with my 14 year old niece she’d be horrified at the thought. Times have definitely changed.
In general though, this year I’ve consumed less alcohol than any since I was 18. No longer in a full-time traditional office job has done wonders for me. There’s no-one to have impromptu post work “just the one” with, plus I’m not coming home and immediately reaching for a glass of wine to assuage the woes of the working day. I was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder earlier in the year and for a long while didn’t drink at all.
I’ve adapted really well to a life where I rarely have more than one drink at a time anymore, because I know I’ll pay the health consequences the next day more so than most. I still can’t say no completely though. Just as this campaign was kicking off, Pete and I spent a week in the Cotswolds and I had an alcoholic drink each evening for a week, plus I’d been out socially the two nights preceding so I’d basically drank every night for 10 days.
I was in need of a detox and so decided for this Drinkaware campaign to see if I could stick to allowing myself a drink on any two nights, keeping the other five free. That meant I could cover blogging events, my Mum’s 70th birthday and a girly weekend but still maintain more #DrinkFreeDays than I would normally. If you’re someone who tends to drink regularly, the Chief Medical Officers’ advice via Drinkaware is still to try and spread that over a few evenings/days, rather than saving it for a weekend for a example.
Its been far less of a struggle than I thought it would be AND I’ve managed to get back to the gym a few times too which is an added bonus. I definitely find that making a compromise is super helpful to how I live my life, rather than a complete ban and it’s the small changes like that which really helps all of us to lower the risk of alcohol-related illness and injury.
Another benefit is that its made me more aware of and conscious to look out for alcohol-free alternatives. I picked up a bottle of sparkling Elderflower and sparkling Raspberry and Pomegranate to take to a friends house instead of Prosecco. When I was in a lovely department store buying my Mum something special for her birthday, I found a whole stand dedicated to alcohol-free alternatives including some delicious and rather fancy looking sparkling tea. Pete’s been drinking less because he’s not presented with a glass of wine as soon as he gets in from work and knows that chances are I won’t want one so he doesn’t bother opening a bottle.
For the time-being, I’ve decided to keep going with my Drinkaware #DrinkFreeDays plan and see how it goes. I definitely enjoy thinking about other activities and have been doing a lot of slow cooking now the days are colder, which means I’m not cooking as much in the evening and reaching for a glass of something to accompany me. I’m on the 3 month count down to my 40th now and have pledged to make as much effort as I can getting fit, great for both physical and mental health.
Of course there will be birthday celebrations and Christmas, and I am partial to a sip or two of mulled wine. But if I can aim to be more mindful of how often I drink and perhaps save it for a cocktail on a night out with a friend or a glass of Champagne on a special occasion, it will make it all the more enjoyable and appreciated. After all I’ve had a good 20 plus years of regularly drinking so taking a sensible step back that still allows me to enjoy my life sounds like a rather splendid and merry win-win to me.
Disclaimer: This blog post is written as part of a paid partnership with Drinkaware. If you’d like to compare alcohol consumption, you can click here to visit the calculator. As always, I only feature content on my blog which is relevant to my every day life and hopefully may be informative and useful. All words, opinions and images are my own unless otherwise stated.