How to Drink Mindfully in the “New Normal," Part 1

A year locked down, cut off from friends and family and restricted from enjoying life uninhibited, is nothing we could’ve prepared for. It did a number on all of us, and for many it was ruthlessly unforgiving. 

Is it easy to understand why we saw a nationwide surge in alcohol consumption at home? Absolutely. Can one empathize with another who might have found themselves drinking a little too much to cope during that time? For sure. We’re human. 

Now that restrictions are beginning to loosen and opportunities to reacclimate to some semblance of “normal” begin to present themselves, it’s important to pause with some intentionality before bolting back like the past year never happened. Things are still a little different out there—you know that, more so depending on what the dynamics are like where you live and what your own journey has looked like. However you choose to reemerge should make sense and be good for you.

Define Your Why

It’s exciting to see access to some of our favorite public pastimes and hobbies returning! Let’s remember that our historic drinking culture would assume that alcohol need be included in these activities, by default, when they resume. If you’ve just spent the last twelve-plus months navigating the ups and downs of your own drinking habits, or have become surprisingly at peace drinking less—or not at all—one of the smartest things you can do to drink mindfully is consider the purpose of why you might now choose to drink more out in public.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we have to.

Why might we slip back into our old, unhealthy ways? Think about whether you miss the thing—the activity, event, occasion—or do you miss the thing with a drink in your hand? You’re not a bad person if the thought of a Bloody Mary with brunch with your people on a sunny patio for Sunday Funday warms your heart. It’s a different story, however, if you think bottomless mimosas are going to somehow cure your Saturday night hangover because you just had to close the bar down for the first time since it reopened. You’ve just spent a year away from that pressure; it’s the last self-inflicted drama you’d want to reignite.

Crawl Before You Learn to Walk Again

Your tolerance for alcohol has probably changed over the last year, most likely having lowered. Going from 0 to 60 will take less time. As a friendly reminder, your tolerance is a one-trick pony that can get you into serious trouble tonight and your health in the long-term. If, by chance, it’s actually increased, we feel you. In that case, we encourage you to proceed with even more caution and self-care.

We know how often tolerance is boasted as bragging rights, as something to be proud of. It shouldn’t. It’s synonymous with regular, continued use. When stretched, it leads down an invisible path toward heavy, potentially problematic use (and subsequent consequences) if your sole goal is ratcheting up that buzz. It only masks how drunk you might think you are and how good you’re fooling yourself by trying to hide it from others. Usually, it’s thinly veiled. And, if you think about, actually more revealing about ourselves than we’d want to admit anyway.

When back out drinking, you’ll be better off with an approach that respects where your tolerance has reverted to rather than trying to make up for lost time by rushing to get it back to where it was. With each drink you consume, pace yourself. Give your body the necessary time to process it and yourself a fair chance to recognize how it’s making you feel so you are able to make a cognizant choice whether you’re in the position for another one. If you’re not, stop while you’re ahead.

Continue reading How to Drink Mindfully in the New Normal, Part 2

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