Put your hands up if you've introduced a drink (or two) into your nightly routine. If you have both hands in the air right now, you're not alone.
Celebrating the end of the work day — or when the kids are asleep and you can finally put your feet up — with a couple of drinks can feel like a treat. If you, like us, have added a cheeky tipple into your daily routine and have also noticed that what used to be one drink is now two (or three), you might also feel like it's time to cap the drinking on weeknights.
A lot of us think alcohol helps to de-stress and get a good night's sleep, and we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that's actually not true. Queensland Health explains the reason some of us believe that alcohol can help us relax at the end of the day is because of a little thing called the "beer buzz". Basically, when we have a drink, our body releases a bunch of feel-good chemicals and we relax, but when the alcohol wears off, so do the feel-good chemicals — often making us feel worse than before.
Continue this pattern to cope with an ongoing stressful situation (like 2020 in general) and suddenly the 5 p.m. treat that made you feel better in the short term has become part of your nightly routine. Over time, the daily alcohol consumption can contribute to poorer sleep and issues like anxiety and depression. Not ideal, right? Right.
Keep on reading for our tips on how to curb the extra drinks at the end of the day.
Find Another Activity to Signal the End of the Work Day
The first thing you can do to signal the end of the work day is to first, respect your clock off time, and second, to completely pack away your workstation (if you are working from home). While we used to mark the end of the work day by literally walking out of the office, it's definitely more difficult now that we're working from the dining room table. By shutting down your computer and, if possible, putting it out of sight, it will make it easier to transition into a relaxing evening. This is also a great opportunity to get out of the house to go for a walk or some kind of exercise.
Replace the Glass of Wine With a Non-Alcoholic Drink
If you're in the mood for a cold drink at the end of the day, then a hot cup of tea simply may not cut it. But getting creative with a fizzy kombucha mocktail or sparkling water infused with fruit and herbs is a great way to break the routine of capping off the day with booze, while still treating yourself to a delicious drink.
Be Strategic About Where You Store Alcohol in Your House
When you have a pantry stocked with wine and spirits, it's easy to fall back on having a drink as a treat when you finish work, or after you put your kids to bed. Being strategic and storing alcohol in a spot that is more out of reach, or simply out of sight, may also put it out of your mind and prevent mindlessly pouring a drink at the end of the day. Similarly, capping the amount of alcohol you keep in the house in the first place is a good way to limit your weeknight drinks — or cut them out altogether.
Organise Alcohol-Free Activities With Friends
If there's one thing we learned in lockdown, it's the transformative power of going for a long walk with a friend. Instead of planning to meet at a bar, maybe go for a walk outside (yes, your dog counts as a friend), meet up at a fitness class, head to an exhibition, or plan a coffee date instead. There's also no shame in telling your friend that you're laying off the alcohol — they'll probably join you in ordering a non-alcoholic bev anyway. If you need some more ideas, Queensland Health has some simple strategies for cutting out booze.