How many nights a week do you find yourself reaching for a glass of wine or a beer to unwind? For some of us it’s almost every night and those one or two glasses soon add up.
February is the time when people start to fall off the good intentions New Year’s resolutions wagon and start to slip back into bad habits.
Now I’m not a big drinker, I can take it or leave it, chocolate is my vice but I know a lot of friends who like nothing more than to unwind on an evening with a glass or two of wine. But do they know the risks of regular drinking?
Now that Dry January is over a lot of people are very much back on the booze wagon; while others have continued to reduce their drinking and some have given up the booze for good.
But what if there was another way to still have a drink and feel the benefits of a break from booze?
Well there is!
Public Health England and Balance, the North East’s Alcohol Office, are encouraging drinkers to take two to three days off from alcohol in a new campaign which also has a handy app to help keep you keep on track.
Evidence shows that regular drinking can increase the risk of more than 60 serious illnesses, and alcohol can cause up to seven different types of cancer.
Drinking can also damage your mental health as it can lead to increased anxiety levels and changes in behaviour. Alcohol is a depressant and can lower levels of serotonin (our ‘happiness’ hormone) in our brains.
This new campaign is encouraging drinkers to take at least two or three days off alcohol each week to break the cycle of regular drinking. And it’s a great way of sticking to the recommend low-risk weekly drinking guidelines of 14 units for both men and women as well as reducing your risk of serious illnesses.
The idea isn’t to have a couple of days off the booze and then binge all your units on a weekend, ruining all of the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake, it’s about reducing your risk of illness and harm from regular drinking.
I interviewed GP Dr John Green about the risks of regular drinking, the benefits of taking a couple of days off a week from the booze and about this brand new app. You can watch this here:
What are the benefits of reducing the amount of booze we drink?
- you will sleep better
- your skin will improve
- your mood could improve
- could see an improvement in anxiety levels
- you could lose weight
- you will have more energy
- you can save money in your pocket (the average person spends £50,000 on booze in their lifetime
- it will give you a sense of achievement.
Handy tips to take control of your drinking
- Try to have an alcohol-free day at least twice a week
- Avoid going to the pub after work
- When bored or stressed have a workout instead of drinking, or go for a walk to help clear your head
- Plan things to do with people who don’t drink at those times you would usually drink
- Have you first drink after starting to eat and not before
- Quench your thirst with non-alcoholic drinks before and in-between alcoholic drinks – there’s some fab mocktails on lots of drinks menus now
- Avoid drinking in rounds or large groups
- Avoid competition based drinking
- Switch to lower strength drinks (5% to 4% or go even lower)
- There’s now even some great new alcohol-free drinks including beer, sparkling wines including Prosecco, G&T and cider. Dry Drinker offers a great range of alcohol-free drinks in the UK
- When you do drink, set yourself a limit and stick to it
- Try collecting all your empties for a week or keep a drink diary to see exactly how much you are drinking
- Avoid or limit the time spent with ‘heavy’ drinking friends
Take small steps – it’s often easier to break a habit if you cut back a bit at a time. By taking two or three days off drinking each week, you’ll be making a positive change that can be beneficial to your health and wellbeing. Try to avoid buying alcohol in your shopping too, so you’re not tempted to have a drink if it’s there.
Keep track of your drinking – the One You Days Off app is a simple and easy way to track the days you do and don’t drink alcohol . By taking time off drinking, you could feel healthier, lose weight and save money.
Discover ways to enjoy yourself without alcohol – there’s loads of alternative things to do without alcohol. Why not make a list of all the things you want to try? You could join an exercise class, read books, take up new hobbies, enjoy spending more time with family, treat yourself to a tasty brunch, try cookery, walk, swim, write. The list is endless!
To download the free app for Apple or Android mobiles and tablets, or to find out more about the Days Off campaign visit http://www.reducemyrisk.tv/
Do you have any tips to cut down on drinking alcohol? Let me know in the comments below.
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