Mindful drinking tips

Fatmata Kamara
Mental Health Nurse Global Case Manager
01 September 2022
Next review due September 2025

Drinking too much alcohol is not good for your health – physically or mentally. But having a drink now and again is a part of many people’s lives. One way to reduce the amount you drink and also enjoy it more is through mindful drinking. Here I’ll explain exactly what mindful drinking is, as well as sharing my top tips for drinking more mindfully.

two people laughing over a glass of wine

Why is drinking too much bad for me?

In the short-term, drinking too much alcohol can make you feel unwell. This might include feeling or being sick, having a headache or even increased anxiety. We also know that in the longer term, you may be at a higher risk of having more serious chronic illnesses. Regularly drinking too much alcohol is linked to:

  • an increased risk of heart disease
  • an increased risk of certain cancers
  • a higher chance of being overweight
  • issues with sleeping
  • a worsening of mental health issues such as depression

With alcohol, less is more. So always aim to stay within 14 units of alcohol per week. Mindful drinking may help you to stay within these limits.

What is mindful drinking?

You might have heard of the term mindfulness before. Being mindful is when you put your attention into the present moment. The idea is that by doing this, you’ll worry less about the future or the past, which can be good for your mental wellbeing. Many stress reduction techniques use mindfulness as part of their approach. There is good evidence that mindfulness can reduce the effects of stress on your body.

Mindful drinking means paying more attention to what and how much you drink. The idea is that this can reduce mindless drinking – where you perhaps drink more than you intend to.

Mindful drinking is about noticing the sensations, tastes, and textures of your alcoholic drink. This can make you enjoy the experience, as well as making you less likely to drink more. Drinking mindfully can also make you aware of how alcohol makes you feel. You might notice you feel a little dizzy or sleepy – and this may make you to stop drinking sooner.

Top five tips for drinking mindfully

1) Savour your drink

If you’re making a drink at home, you could try measuring it into a colourful glass to make it feel more special. Using your senses when drinking can also help you to become aware of the present moment. So, when you drink, try to sip slowly, and notice how the drink smells, tastes, and feels in your mouth.

2) Decide how much you’ll drink

When out with friends and family it can be easy to drink more than you planned to. If people around you are drinking a lot, this can be particularly hard. But, deciding ahead of time how much you are happy to drink can help you to stick to your intentions. Being clear on your limits, and not being afraid to enforce them, can make you feel better the next day too.

3) Enjoy non-alcoholic alternatives

Part of the reason we like to drink can be because it feels like a treat or special occasion. But nowadays there are many low or non-alcoholic options for you to try. You can make your own mocktails, try alcohol-free beers or even choose something like kombucha – a sparkling drink made from fermented green tea.

4) Remove your triggers

Making behaviour changes can be hard if you’re surrounded by your drinking triggers. For example, if you keep alcoholic drinks near the TV, you might associate watching television with drinking. By moving them into a cupboard you’re removing the trigger. This can lead you to be more intentional about how and when you drink – instead of drinking out of habit. 

5) Pause between drinks

Giving yourself a little break between drinks may help you to control how much you drink. It can also give you a chance to be mindful about how alcohol is making you feel. If you’re already feeling some effects from drinking, you may decide to switch to non-alcoholic versions instead.

If you’re worried about how much you’re drinking, then see a doctor to get the support you need.

Infographic: Five tips for mindful drinking

The infographic below illustrates the 5 tips for mindful drinking. Click on the image to download a PDF version of the infographic [PDF, 2.19 MB].

Tips to mindful drinking: sip slowly, plan ahead, non-alcoholic drinks, remove triggers, slow down

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Fatmata Kamara
Fatmata Kamara (she/her)
Mental Health Nurse Global Case Manager

    • Health effects of alcohol. Drinkaware., accessed 24 August 2022
    • Alcohol and mental health. Mental Health UK., accessed 24 August 2022
    • Alcohol and sleep. The Sleep Foundation., updated 11 March 2022
    • UK Chief Medical Officers’ alcohol guidelines review., published January 2016
    • Explore sober curious and mindful drinking. Drinkaware Ireland., accessed 24 August 2022
    • What is mindfulness? Mind., published November 2021

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