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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Rethinking Drinking
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Monday, December 2,2019

Rethinking Drinking

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
The holiday season is a great time to amp up the mindfulness quotient by pausing and reflecting on the temptation to overindulge. From parties to presents to “getting it all in” before January 1, the holidays can make us behave in ways opposite their meaning. For some of us it’s spending, for others, eating… for me, a bit too much cheer.

I’ve been toying with the idea of quitting drinking altogether since I grew tired of hangovers and realized how many empty calories I was ingesting. Also, my memory seems to be challenged more lately, which I could blame on age. Orrrrrrrr, it could be the wine! Thus, I’ve become what I like to call “sober curious,” and am surprised and, frankly, troubled, at how difficult it is to walk away completely. Even temporarily.

Exhibit 1: Excuses. The last 18 months have been chock full of textbook life stressors. I live in Parkland, right down the street from where so many of our friends were directly impacted by the insanity of the murders there. Six months later, my best friend’s mom developed lung cancer, and died three months later. While I was at her funeral, I got a call from my brother informing me that our own mother had just died unexpectedly that morning. So, there’s that. But stuff happens, and life is hard, and that is no excuse to get sloppy, gain weight, or give up a good night’s sleep. Yet, that happened without a second thought.

Exhibit 2: Booze Culture.

People always want to “go grab a drink.” Whether it’s a party, a funeral, a reunion, book club, because it’s Friday, because it’s Sunday. There is even wine at yoga sometimes! Everywhere we turn booze is a central theme to our social engagements. I went on a health kick in the fall in preparation for the holidays (gaining two sizes in one year is just not something I am willing to throw in the towel about quite yet) and found it was easier to pretend to drink than to explain my choices. I actually put boysenberry herbal tea in a thermos and gave it to the bartender to pour in my red wine glass at a charity event. Something is wrong with that picture.

As I’ve been paying attention to my own participation in this culture, I’m optimistic. I’ve uncovered that abstinence from alcohol is actually trending at the moment. According to a July article in The Guardian, beer sales are down in general, millenials drink far less than their parents, and the market is reacting. Bars and restaurants are offering specialty cocktails with all the bells and whistles with a virgin option. Alcohol-free clubs are offering a “fun without the fuzz” option.

Please understand, discussing sobriety as a trend is not meant to trivialize the seriousness of addiction. For our friends and family who suffer from substance addiction in any form, that is an entirely different issue – one which we should be grateful if we’re blessed to be free from, and compassionate toward those who are not. But for those of us lucky enough to have a choice, it is exciting to know that healthier options are becoming more readily available.

Mindful Merriment to you this Holiday Season, my friends.


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