Drinking smarter over the festive season

The festive season is an excessive time of year for most people with Christmas parties and end of year events meaning we’re out socialising and drinking more and more often than we normally would. This can continue throughout the summer with overindulging while on holidays or out watching sporting events and enjoying the warmer weather.

Consuming too much alcohol has a few short and long-term effects on our bodies. Having too many drinks may cause a loss of coordination, lowered inhibitions, dulled perception, mood swings, raised blood pressure (which could lead to passing out) and vomiting, not to mention the hangover the next day.

Longer-term, excessive drinking can cause chronic physical and mental health issues including memory loss, depression, liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and studies have shown links to some forms of cancer.

The lead-up to Christmas can already be an overwhelming and anxiety-inducing experience for some of us and by adding excessive drinking in the mix, this anxiety can be exacerbated.

Keep these helpful tips in mind over the next couple of months while you’re out and about socialising:

Know your limit

This is important as you should be aware of how many drinks you can have without losing control. The general rule is to have 1 standard drink per hour (you can see the Australian Government’s Standard Drinks Guide) to avoid getting drunk too quickly. Every person is different though and factors such as gender, age and body fat can affect how fast alcohol is absorbed. New UQ research has shown that you may think you’re more intoxicated than you actually are or vice versa so there are apps available that can assist you track your alcohol intake.

Alternate your drinks

You don’t need to consume alcoholic drinks all the time. In fact, this is probably not advisable if you’re out on a weeknight and have work or other commitments the next day. Alternate your alcohol with a non-alcoholic beverage which will keep you more hydrated and will help you feel good the next day. Because you won’t be thirsty, you also won’t need to buy as many drinks. There are plenty of alcohol-free spirits available now, which are a good alternative.

Eat something while drinking

Whether you’re at a sit-down meal or more of a cocktail affair with appetisers, it’s important that you have food to slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Also try and avoid salty foods as the alcohol will dehydrate you so consuming salty foods will add to this and could lead to you drinking more to compensate. Eating a balanced meal of carbs, proteins and fats is the best way to set yourself up.

Practice mindful drinking

This is a relatively new trend that’s about being aware of why you drink and how it makes you feel. Rather than a short-term trend like ‘Dry July’, it’s about having a healthier relationship with alcohol over the long-term. You may feel obligated to drink if everyone else is, or you may drink without thinking about it. Have a think about why you’re drinking and decide when or if you want to partake. Cutting down on your intake is as easy as delaying your first drink or forgoing an alcoholic beverage with your meal. Setting yourself a limit on how many drinks you’ll have is also beneficial.

You don’t need to feel pressured into drinking and it’s ok to turn down a drink. If you find it hard to resist alcohol at parties or events, ask your friends and family to support you and let them know why you don’t want to drink or consume as much.

It’s fine to enjoy having a few drinks over the holidays but just do it in moderation and follow these tips to ensure you can enjoy the festive season without the hangover.

For more information you can visit the Drinkwise website.

Last updated:
9 January 2023