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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Ever thought about cutting back on alcohol? Here are some tips to help this bank holiday

Pace yourself so you can enjoy the whole weekend.

THE BANK HOLIDAY weekend is almost upon us and chances are you’ve lined up loads to do over the weekend.

BBQ Source: Jun Seita via Flickr/CC

From BBQs to watching or playing some sports to getting in some long walks or even catching up on some of the chores around the house that you’ve put on the long finger, there’s sure to be plenty to keep you occupied all weekend.

You might have a night or two lined up as well, and as it’s well known that overdoing it the night before can lead to a harder day, here are some ways to help pace yourself and drink less – so you can make the most of the weekend.

The GAA has partnered with HSE West and the Little Things campaign this June, to encourage people to drink less at this summer’s matches. Justin Campbell, addiction counsellor and manager of the Roscommon hurling team says,

You can go out and a enjoy a night out, just be mindful of creating a healthy lifestyle and not overdoing things.

Keep track of what you’re drinking

Start Line Source: LindsayEnsing via Flickr/CC

Setting a limit to how much you plan on consuming over the course of the day or night is a great way to keep track of what you’re drinking. If you know you’re only going to have two drinks and then stop, you’re more likely to drink slowly.

The average body metabolises one standard alcoholic drink per hour – so that could be your guide, but remember a standard drink might be smaller than you think. A half pint of lager is one standard drink, for example, as is 100ml of wine. Low risk drinking limits for a week are 11 standard drinks for women and 17 for men.

It’s important to also spread out your drinking over the week with some alcohol-free days. There are lots of alcohol-free activities that you could do such as heading to the cinema, hiking or bowling.

Have a reason ready why you’re not drinking

Keys Source: John Loo via Flickr/CC

While you don’t need to give anyone a reason why you’re not drinking, or drinking less, sometimes it helps to have one in your back pocket anyway, especially if you don’t want to drink at all.

There’s no better reason not to drink than that you’re the designated driver. Not only will you have a valid excuse for not drinking, you’ll score brownie points with any friends and family who you give a lift to. And who doesn’t want to have everyone in their debt?

Other valid reasons to pace yourself, or not be drinking at all could be that you have a match the next day or you have to be up early in the morning.

Have a spacer

Source: Andrea Goh via Flickr/CC

A spacer is a fancy way of saying have a soft drink between alcoholic drinks.

Remember to have a soft drink or water every second drink and you’ll be far less likely to overindulge over the course of the event. You’ll stay more hydrated too, and that’s always a good thing. Alcohol is an anti-diuretic so you need to keep drinking lots of water, or even the odd sports drink, to keep your fluid and salt levels up.

Keep an eye on your glass

Source: jenny downing via Flick/rCC

If you’re at an event where the wine is flowing it can be hard to keep track of how much you’ve had if your glass keeps getting ‘topped up‘.  You’ll be able to keep a much better eye on what you’ve already had if you can count the glasses, so try and avoid getting topped up by keeping an eye on your glass.

There are a number of apps that you can uses to calculate your blood alcohol based on your height, weight and how many drinks you’ve had – this one will send you alerts when you’ve exceeded a limit you set.

Stay away from rounds

Source: Damien Pollet via Flickr/CC

Getting involved in rounds is a really easy way to drink more than you intended. Chances are you’ll have to keep pace with someone who’s drinking faster than you and you’ll feel obliged to keep up.

Staying out of rounds will mean you can drink at your own speed and be in charge of your own alcohol consumption. At the very least, if you do get caught in a round, remember you can always opt out if they’re drinking too fast.

Drink something weaker

alabama slammer 01 Source: Tim Evanson via Flickr/CC

One easy way to limit your alcohol consumption is to drink something weaker than usual. Go for a drink with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) than you usually drink or pour your mixer with a very heavy hand, so you basically dilute the alcohol down.

Put down your drink

Source: scragz via Flickr/CC

If you’re chatting away to your friend with a drink in hand you can be sipping it steadily without even realising how much you’re doing it. Putting it down on the table means you’ll have to reach for it every time you want to take a sip and you’ll be more conscious of how much you’re drinking.

Distract yourself 

Pool Source: Juanedc via Flickr/CC

Another great way to limit your drinking is to do something other than drink. Depending on the event you could play a game of pool, have a dance or just have a chat with someone.

As Peadar Gardiner, project manager of Mindspace Mayo , a youth mental health support services, says,

For the average Irish drinker, reducing alcohol will have a positive impact on their mental health and well-being.

Got any tips for cutting back? Let us know in the comments below.

The #LittleThings campaign from yourmentalhealth.ie is a national effort by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention and scores of partner organisations and support groups to bring information, awareness, advice and support around mental health for you and your loved ones.  

No matter how you spend your bank holiday, consider drinking less alcohol – and remember by drinking less, great nights become good mornings.

Helplines:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

For information on what to do or where to go, please see yourmentalhealth.ie.

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