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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.