DrinkCoach x Club Soda: Mindful drinking & Mindfulness
Mindful Drinking & Mindfulness
We have teamed up with Club Soda to give our readers a special guest blog looking into mindful drinking, and how mindfulness has helped Club Soda members reduce their alcohol intake… for good.
Over the last couple of years, mindful drinking has become an inclusive and positive way to describe how people are changing their relationship with alcohol. At Club Soda, we started using the phrase as a way of describing all the many approaches we saw people take in changing their drinking habits.
Some of our members wanted to cut down, others to stop for a bit (for example to go Sober for October or to do a Dry January), and some to quit alcohol for good.
The common theme to all is a more conscious, or mindful, way of deciding whether, when and how much alcohol to consume in any given day. We even call ourselves a mindful drinking movement.
Does Mindfulness = Meditation?
While the idea of mindful drinking is becoming mainstream, the practices of mindfulness and meditation have become more popular as well. Based on ancient eastern traditions updated to the modern age, mindfulness is a way of training your mind to be more present in the moment, and more aware of your thought processes.
So although the words “mindful” and “mindfulness” are similar, “mindful drinking” doesn’t require any formal mindfulness practices.
You can be mindful about your drinking habits without sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed.
Having said that, many Club Soda members have discovered that a bit of mindfulness can be a big help in learning more moderate drinking habits or stopping drinking completely.
For example, you may have a “trigger” for reaching for a drink: strong emotions and stress are common ones. Your usual response to feeling angry about something may be to drink.
Practising mindfulness will help you recognise when you are feeling angry, and may give you time to pause, examine your emotions, and to do something more constructive about them. Maybe go for a walk outside instead? Call a friend and get an outside point of view on what happened? And sometimes just looking at the situation with a calmer mind can quickly dissolve the anger.
Club Soda member Ian, who is in his early 40’s and lives in Kent, is now over a year alcohol-free, after many years of heavy drinking. This is what Ian said about his relationship with mindfulness:
My personal story is similar. A few years ago I started practising meditation every day. I had already been cutting down my drinking over the years, and had done several sober sprints, the longest for 18 months. But I still didn’t feel like I’d completely managed to get my drinking levels to where I wanted them to be. This time, however, something seemed to have changed. I just realised one day that I no longer enjoyed the sensation of beginning to feel a bit tipsy. It was quite a revelation, and since that day I’ve never drank more than I have planned to drink in an evening.
If you want to get started with mindfulness or meditation, the best way to learn is to find a local teacher or group. If there aren’t any where you live, the next best thing are online videos, podcasts or apps with guided practices. Reading a good book can also get you started. You may need to try a few different approaches to find one that works for you - it’s perfectly fine to shop around. The most important thing is to practice regularly. Even a few minutes every day is much better than an hour once a week: some benefits will take time to appear, but you can probably see some effects quite quickly if you put your mind into mindfulness.
DrinkCoach & Mindfulness
The DrinkCoach app has great mindfulness videos to help you reach a calmer state by reducing anger, calming nerves and bringing your focus to something positive and meaningful. You can download the free DrinkCoach app here.
Jussi Tolvi is one of the founders of Club Soda. Jussi is a social scientist, former academic and City worker, and a mindful drinker. He is also one of the authors of Club Soda’s first book How to Be a Mindful Drinker, which will be published in December and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.