Drink less, enjoy drinking more
New year, new regime
It's January. The nights are still short, but the festive lights have been packed away. It's freezing cold, and the joy of Christmas feels like a distant memory.
It's a hard environment to contemplate adding abstinence into the mix, so hats off to the 9 million people - an impressive 17% of the adult population - who are taking part in Dry January this year. 2024 will be Dry January's 11th official year in the UK, and people are now adapting the concept with new spin-offs. Like Damp January, where you cut down rather than cut out your alcohol units.
But if your aim is to build a healthier lifestyle, both Dry and Damp January come with one fundamental flaw. And if any of your friends have asked you to keep the 1st of February free, you'll know what that is.
But there is another way...
Over the last 20 years, mindfulness has proven to be an effective way to reduce stress, build awareness and increase personal happiness. And now people are applying the same approach to drinking alcohol. The author of the book Mindful Drinking, Rosamund Dean, describes mindful drinking as "the opposite of drinking without thinking." She believes that if every sip is a conscious decision, your overall alcohol consumption naturally reduces, while the moment of drinking is greatly enriched.
Club Soda is an alcohol-free social club. They run a programme that teaches people how to be more mindful about their drinking. Co-founder and programme director, Dru Jaeger, said "Collectively, we've inherited this story that the only way to change your drinking is if you've hit rock bottom, but through mindful drinking you can choose to rethink your relationship with alcohol at any time - whether it's to cut down, take a break, or explore other options."
Not for everyone
This is a quick mindful drinking interlude to explain that the purpose of this article is to introduce our eto community to the concept, and not to preach - or put you off that delicious bottle of wine you've been eyeing up. We hope you find the article interesting, but mindful drinking might not be for your this year.
How to drink mindfully
Here are some easy steps you can take to be more mindful about your drinking.
Savour the moment
When you enjoy your next alcoholic drink, pay attention to the experience. Consider the glassware, the serve, and your mood as you drink it. Dr Sarah Ramsay Andrews, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says, "When you drink mindfully, you want to really focus on the taste, the smell, and how it makes you feel. The biggest thing is to make sure you are fully present. That means being aware of your surroundings, the people you're with, and your own body."
One mindful choice you can easily make is to go for the smaller option of drink. Choose a bottle of beer over a pint, a single measure of spirits over a double, or a small glass of wine instead of a large or medium. You'll probably find that you enjoy the drink just as much, but wake up with less of a headache the next day.
Check the ABV
Traditionally beer is between 4 and 5% ABV. But now there are lots of beers ranging from 0% to 2.5% that taste great, so it's a way to at least half your alcohol intake on a night out (or in). And some wines have lower alcohol levels too. Most wines are 12-13% ABV, but Moscato d'Asti is only 5.5%, while Kabinett Riesling is 8% and Alsace Blanc ranges from 9-10%.
Keep an alcohol diary
It's easy to slip into routines without thinking too hard about the level of enjoyment they bring. Professor Matt Field, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield, suggests keeping an alcoholic diary to work out which drinking experiences bring the most satisfaction. For example, you might decide that the glass of wine you drink in front of the TV isn't as enjoyable as the one you have when you're out with friends.
A diary also gives you more control over your drinking. It allows you to plan your week's drinking as well as record it, so you can be more strategic about when to indulge a little and when to hold back.
How eto can help
We asked eto inventor and founder Tom Cotton for his thoughts on how eto can support mindful drinking. "I find that I can now open a great quality bottle of wine, even if I just want a glass because I know there's not the pressure to finish the whole bottle straight away. If I choose to, I can savour it over a fortnight. It's a health conscious thing, but it's also about taking back control - as individuals, we get to decide when and how much to drink. In our house, Dina prefers white, while I typically prefer red, so we have a bottle of each on the go. Having eto also means we can pair wine with food, and not worry if the bottle isn't finished when the meal is over."
We regularly get feedback from our eto community about how eto has helped them become more mindful drinkers too.If you would like to try mindful drinking in 2024 and enjoy wine, you can find out more about eto at etowine.com.