Top tips for healthy drinking as lockdown eases

Vanessa Lyall | April 2021 | 9 minutes

As lockdown eases you might be worried about how to approach getting back to normal while keeping your drinking under control - so here are some top tips for drinking how you choose to.

This might be the first taste of normality many of us have had for a long time - and for some of us, normality and drinking might go together. Or maybe you're worried that when you see friends or family for the first time in a long while you might be tempted to go overboard and drink more than you really want to. In this blog we have a few tips for drinking - or NOT drinking - how you want to.

Top tips

  • Remember why you want to keep your drinking under control - write your reasons down or just make sure they're clear in your head, and go back to them if you have a wobble.
  • If you plan on not drinking, communicate this to whoever you're meeting up with before you see them, so you're both prepared. The people who love and care about us and will usually offer support, not questions or pressure, if they realise this is important to us.
  • ... But of course sometimes we will face pressure to drink. Swerve any 'You're not drinking?! Don't be boring!' comments by brushing up on your drink-refusal skills and making sure you have an alcohol-free or low-alcohol drink at the ready in case someone swoops in and tries to put an alcoholic one in your hand or glass.
  • If you plan on drinking but want to stay in control, bring what you'd like to have and no more. That way you can keep an eye on how much you've had, and you'll know when it's time to stop.
  • Remember, and 'beer pressure' is not about you. Some people might give you a hard time about not drinking or limiting how much you're drinking. Why? We like people to match us. It’s a psychological bias. And so, when there’s someone doing something differently to us, we try to convince them otherwise. It’s about them and their relationship with drinking, not you.

Going to the pub?

Being able to sit down and enjoy a pub or restaurant garden again is a wonderful thought, but it might make you feel a little anxious – especially if you’ve made a change to your drinking during lockdown. Here are some tips for sticking to what you’re comfortable with as venues reopen.

  • Decide what you’re going to drink before you get there. This saves you having to think of something quickly in the moment, which might have you panic-ordering your go-to alcoholic drink.
  • Find out what alcohol-free options are available at the venue before you get there. Since many people are having to book in advance to get a table anyway, why not ask what the alcohol-free drinks offering is? This not only helps you pick your drink, but it gets the venue thinking about their no- and low-alcohol drinks range too!
  • If you’re struggling to stick to your resolve, fast forward to tomorrow. What will it look like tomorrow if you have more drinks than you initially wanted to right now?
  • Step away if you need to. If the people you’re with are piling on the pressure for you to drink or are making comments about your lack of alcohol consumption, step away for a few moments. You could phone a friend, go to the bathroom, walk around the block or just take a few, slow breaths to center yourself. Remember: it’s never ok to pressure someone into drinking. How much you do or don’t drink is your decision, and your alone.
  • Shift the focus away from drinks. Order snacks, nibbles and bites! Remind your friends how good it is to see them. Talk about the things you’ve missed. Talk about how good the food is. Alcohol doesn’t need to hog the spotlight.
  • And finally… be kind to yourself. If you drink more than you intended to, that’s ok. Work out why you drank more than you intended to, and use that information to better prepare for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

Actually, I'm staying in!

If you plan on staying in and are worried about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), here are some ideas for alcohol-free fun:

  • Pick up/try a new craft - knitting, crochet, origami, felting, sculpting, lino cutting... the options are endless!
  • Do something fun with food - bake and/or decorate your own sweet treats, put effort into something simple, or cook something elaborate. For example, you could make spaghetti bolognese but make the pasta from scratch and roll your own meatballs, or make your own pie or quiche.
  • Outsource the entertainment you're missing - stand-up and music gigs, music festivals, theatre performances... Many shows are available on YouTube for free or a small fee, and you can purchase shows direct from the artist or ticketing platform too.