Tag Archives: NADAP

Mindfulness Monday – Staying in the Moment during Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month blog image

Submitted by the Keep What You’ve Earned Campaign

You’ve heard of mindful breathing…mindful eating…but what about mindful drinking? April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and awareness is key to the practice of mindful drinking.

So what does mindful drinking mean? What sounds like a new age buzz-phrase is actually a way to feel greater happiness with and control over your drinking choices.  Mindful drinking is a conscious approach to consuming alcohol. At its simplest, mindful drinking means focusing on the present moment and experience of consuming alcohol. Mindful drinkers may drink less, but the emphasis isn’t on how much alcohol is consumed. It’s about an overall healthier relationship with it.

Giving Mindful Drinking a Try

This month is a great time to check in with your drinking habits and practice a little mindfulness. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Before attending an event where you’ll consume alcohol, take a moment to reflect and center yourself. Visualize yourself enjoying the company of others and focus on how you want the event to unfold.
  2. If you’re at a party and you have a drink, concentrate on the experience of each sip. Drink slowly and savor the taste and smell. Don’t speed up out of anxiety or social pressure. Have a glass of water handy so that you can alternate between sips of alcohol to pace yourself.
  3. When you are drinking alcohol, stay attuned to the psychological and physical effects. Take notice of how you feel with each sip, and each drink, and manage your consumption accordingly.

The Perks of Paying Attention to your Alcohol Consumption

Although mindful drinking doesn’t mean abstaining or trying to limit alcohol, many people find themselves drinking less when they focus on the moment. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption comes with its own benefits. You may notice improved mood, sleep and job performance, and find that you’re less stressed about weight gain due to liquid calories (especially around Physical Fitness Assessment time!). You may also find that you seek healthier ways to navigate stress rather than losing track of your beer count at the bar. Using alcohol in response to stress may spiral into social withdrawal, anger or rage, and decreased inhibitions—which may increase suicide risk.

Mindful drinking can also help protect your wallet. If you really savor and enjoy one drink you may not find yourself paying for several rounds. Reducing your alcohol consumption also puts you at reduced risk for Alcohol-Related Incidents (ARIs), which can impact your pay and derail your entire career.

Mindful Tools to Help You Keep What You’ve Earned

The Keep What You’ve Earned Campaign’s Pier Pressure mobile application has the tools you need to integrate mindful drinking into your life. The app’s “Resources” section features a blood alcohol content estimator to help you stay aware of the potential for alcohol to affect your mind and body, a calorie calculator (which also tells you how many push-ups it will take to burn off those beers) and one-click access to Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps to plan ahead for a safe-ride home. The app also features a quick and anonymous self-check to help you gauge your drinking habits and engage the right resources if you have concerns about your drinking. Pier Pressure is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Mindful drinking is a practice anyone can implement, and it can make your nights out (and your mornings after) more enjoyable. Your drinking choices can impact your health, your relationships and your career. If you drink alcohol, make the most of it by staying present in the moment and tuned in to your own mind and body.

Questions or Concerns about Your Drinking?

There are several resources available to help you find appropriate treatment for alcohol misuse. Reach out to your health care provider at your local Military Treatment Facility, your command Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA), chaplain or Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) counselor. Additionally, the Psychological Health Resource Center offers 24/7, free and confidential support provided by trained health resource consultants at 866-966-1020. For more information about Navy’s non-disciplinary self-referral process, check out the Pier Pressure app or visit www.nadap.navy.mil.

Holiday Festivities or Stressful Activities? 5 Tips for Celebrating Responsibly

The holidays are full of joy, love, and festivities, but they can also bring an increased level of stress and anxiety. While our social calendars fill quickly with trips to the mall, holiday parties, family get-togethers and other activities, we can easily become overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. Given the increase in social activities and related stress around the holidays, it is more important than ever to remember to drink responsibly.

Below are five tips on responsible drinking to help get you through the holiday season and keep what you’ve earned:

1. Don’t rely on alcohol to reduce your stress:

We’ve all heard the “I’ve had a stressful day” excuse for having a drink or two too many. Drinking alcohol may lead to positive feelings and relaxation momentarily, but if you try to deal with stress through drinking it can lead to serious problems. Instead of “calming your nerves,” drinking can actually work against you, increasing your risk for alcohol dependence and leading to other psychological health problems. If you’re feeling stressed this holiday season, look for other ways to reduce stress such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or just taking a moment each day for yourself to relax and be in the moment. If trying to de-stress with alcohol has become a common practice for you, it’s probably time to self-refer for help. Talk to your Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA), chaplain, doctor, or command leadership about where to get help.

2. Practice good self-care:

Mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and casserole, pie, pie, and more pie. There are many treats to indulge in over the holiday season and as your social calendar fills up it becomes more difficult to make time to stay healthy. During the holiday season it’s okay to allow yourself some additional treats, but be careful not to over-indulge—especially when it comes to alcohol. Drinking in excess during the holiday season can lead to bad decision making, whether it’s the decision to eat more than you had planned, skip out on the gym, or worse, drive yourself home after drinking. Keep your diet and exercise routines on track and don’t let alcohol steer you wrong—you’ll feel better for doing so!

3. Know your limit:

Many people, particularly those who don’t drink that often, find themselves participating in more social activities that involve drinking this time of year given the celebratory nature of the holidays. In fact, according to the Distilled Spirit Council of the United States, the $49 billion distilled-spirits industry makes more than 35% of its profits from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. If you find yourself drinking more often during the holiday season, you should know your limit, don’t try to keep up with others, and learn to say no to peer pressure to drink more than you had planned. Exercise Controllability, one of the Five Principles of Resilience, and monitor your consumption to help you keep what you’ve earned. Whether you’re the host or a guest, there are plenty of festive alcohol-free drinks to enjoy this season! Non-alcoholic eggnog, anyone?

4. Plan ahead for a safe ride home:

Studies show that during the holiday season there is an increase in drinking and driving, making it one of the most dangerous time of the year to be on the road. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2012, more than 300 people were killed in traffic accidents nationwide. This holiday season, plan ahead for a safe ride home before you go out for the night. Make the choice: will you drink or will you drive? Stick to the plan! Remember that even buzzed driving is illegal and more importantly can lead to dangerous accidents.KWYE_Holiday

Furthermore, this season the Keep What You’ve Earned campaign is encouraging all Sailors to take the pledge to be a designated driver for a shipmate, friend, or family member. You can give the gift of a designated driver to a loved one by downloading the printable holiday gift cards, and don’t forget to take the pledge to be a designated driver this season. Exercise Trust, another one of the Five Principles of Resilience—don’t put your friends and shipmates at risk by deciding to drink after committing to serve as a designated driver.

5. Talk it out:

Do you blame your stress, loneliness, or feelings of depression on the “holiday blues?” Do you often feel alone amongst all of the holiday activities and social gatherings happening around you? Do the hardships you’ve experienced in the past 12 months feel magnified during this time of year? These feelings can slowly build up over time, especially as we deal with the stress and anxiety associated with preparing for the holiday season.

Rather than bottling up your feelings—or turning to the bottle to relieve stress—it’s important that you talk to a friend, family member, fellow Sailor, DAPA, chaplain, doctor, or any other resource available to you. If drinking to relieve stress has become a trend for you, remember that a self-referral is the best option for seeking help. When Sailors get help via a self-referral or through the help of their command, neither results in disciplinary action.

Keep an Even Keel, Shipmates—and Keep What You’ve Earned this holiday season!

Alcohol’s Impact on your Ability to Navigate Stress

This month marks the first anniversary of Navy’s flagship responsible drinking campaign, Keep What You’ve Earned, and Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse KWYE_2Prevention wants to get a “pulse check” on how you believe attitudes and behaviors toward drinking in the Navy have changed since the campaign’s launch.

This may lead you to ask… what are your beliefs and attitudes when it comes to ‘popping a cold one’ at the end of a stressful day or week?

Some may think that having an extra beer or glass of wine to unwind from a stressful day or drinking excessively with friends at the end of a challenging week may seem like ways to ‘release,’ but the reality is that using alcohol to navigate stress can lead to a dangerous situation.

Not only does alcohol impact your physical health, but it can take a toll on your psychological and emotional wellness if consumed irresponsibly or in excess. Additionally, abusing alcohol in response to stress may spiral into social withdrawal, anger or rage, and decreased inhibitions—which may increase suicide risk.

Though alcohol may seem to help you loosen up, using it to navigate stress can lead to long term impacts on your physical and psychological health including addictive or destructive behavior. Stress induces the body’s “fight or flight” response, providing rapid energy in order to handle threats. Thus, when we’re unable to respond to these challenges adaptively, we may make unhealthy choices to ease the tension.

Instead of alcohol, utilize your sense of controllability to focus your body and mind on positive measures to counter stress. Physical activity can help your body re-regulate hormones to help you think clearly and unwind.If you enjoy the company of others, go for a run with a few shipmates or get in a good workout. Passive activities like listening to music, reading, and meditation can also produce a sense of calm so that you can refocus on positive solutions and regain a sense of control.

The bottom line is that alcohol will not help you decrease your stress level long-term. Rather it can jeopardize everything you’ve worked hard for, particularly if use turns into abuse, or you make just one irresponsible decision like getting behind the wheel after drinking. After all, You’ve Earned It, Don’t Waste It!

For tips on responsible drinking, click here. If you think you may be struggling with alcohol, contact your local Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. To participate in the anonymous Keep What You’ve Earned survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KWYE.

Bonus: Click here to watch the latest Keep What You’ve Earned Profile on Senior Chief Brian Wenzel. Sharing your story is one everyday way we can build a sense of community and promote awareness.

December is Impaired Driving Month

This month, Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center’s (NMCPHC) 130424-N-ZZ999-001Health Promotion and Wellness Department is focusing on impaired driving prevention and responsible drinking—just in time for the holidays.

New Year’s Eve and other festivities are often synonymous with champagne toasts and revelry, but drinking often extends far beyond a single glass of bubbly at midnight. Long before you physically feel the effects of alcohol, you may be above the legal limit to take the wheel. Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving too! Controllability, one of the 5 Principles of Resilience, can help you and your family enjoy celebrations responsibly—not only during the holidays, but all year long. In addition to staying hydrated, and keeping a 1-to-1 ratio of alcoholic to non-alcoholic beverages to control excessive drinking, make sure you have a plan before heading out. Your party crew should include at least one designated driver who will completely abstain from drinking, and you should also save the contact information to local taxi and transportation services in your cell phone as an extra precaution. Giving your keys to the designated driver at the beginning of the night to avoid making a regrettable decision later is another smart choice to prevent impaired driving.

At the other end of the spectrum of excessive social drinking, is using alcohol as a way to navigate feelings of loneliness, sadness or other challenges that may surface during the holiday season. As NMCPHC notes in their recent article on drinking habits and coping skills, being drunk can influence behavior and intensify these feelings, hampering your ability to rationally sort through things and effectively navigate stress. This can ultimately lead to taking impulsive risks, like driving drunk.

Getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol can not only jeopardize your life and the lives of your shipmates, family and others, but it can impact your career as well. In just six months following its April 2013 launch, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention’s (NADAP) Keep What You’ve Earned campaign has done an excellent job at spreading the word about the impacts of irresponsible drinking on Sailors’ careers and lives. From Memorial Day to Labor Day there was a 51 percent decrease in alcohol incidents involving Sailors, proving that Controllability and Meaning, two of the five principles of Resilience, are helping Sailors make responsible decisions on and off duty. Integrating the principle of Predictability, by knowing your limits before you arrive to your celebration, you can make sure you drink responsibly every time.

For more information on impaired driving see Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center’s article Be Prepared this Holiday Season: Don’t Drive Impaired. While you’re there, check out Managing Your Drinking Habits and Building Positive Coping Skills as well.

For more information on NADAP’s Keep What You’ve Earned campaign, visit www.nadap.navy.mil.

Building Resilience – One small change at a time

Individual resilience requires life balance and the Navy’s people programs offer ways to develop that balance through enhancement of our physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological well being.

Over the last few months, many Navy people program subject matter experts joined to offer practical tips on how our Sailors, their families, civilians and leaders can lessen the stress that often accompanies the holidays. These stories, blog posts, tweets and Face Book postings all offer ways to reduce stress today and explain how together these small changes can help build resilience over time.

“Active resilience building activities like having a good fitness routine, eating balanced diet, developing a strong spiritual foundation, and taking time to have fun can mitigate stress. When those activities are developed in concert with the resilience principles of predictability, controllability, relationships, trust and meaning,” said Navy Behavioral Health Director, Capt. Kurt Scott, “they form the basis for the holistic approach to improving readiness, fitness and a sense of well-being.”

Our Navy Personnel Programs and partner organizations have members with a wealth of knowledge and experience, Scott added. “We need to follow their recommendations on how to keep to an exercise routine, develop and manage a budget or how to plan for fun if we want to become be better prepared to respond to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Wallinger, a nutritionist and Lt. Cmdr. Austin Latour an exercise physiologist both with the Navy Physical Readiness Office, Dorice Favorite, director, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office (NADAP), and personal financial management specialist Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, from the Fleet & Family Support Center in Millington, Tenn. have all provided practical ways to navigate holiday stress. See their tips in the Navy News Stand articles below or read our blog postings by Navy Chaplains Tim Overturf with the 2d Marine Division and Andrew P. Sholtes from the Naval Medical Center San Diego on how to make new holiday traditions while building better family and spiritual relationships.

Use these techniques to reduce stress with regular exercise, for planning more nutritious meals, for understanding the keys to responsible drinking behaviors and for managing your financial health.  These stories were written for the holidays but the strategies can help you all year long.

Celebrate – And Arrive Home Safely
Physical Fitness: Make A Contract With Yourself
Protect Your Identity – During And After The Holidays
Plan Ahead To Avoid DUI
The Skinny on Stress Eating
Balance Your Shopping Cart, Plate
Exercise Schedule will Help Keep Holiday Stress at Bay
Don’t be a Regretful Holiday Host
Holiday Spending – Don’t Go Broke Trying to Save
Financial Planning to Survive the Holidays
Avoid Holiday Stress_ Don’t Forget to Plan for Fun
Make Gift-Giving Plans Early To Avoid Stress, Save Budget