Challenging Alcohol as the Norm: Sobriety and Mindful Drinking
When people talk about getting healthy, they often focus on exercise and diet, ignoring other important factors such as sleep. The amount of alcohol consumption is an important factor in staying both physically and mentally healthy; abusing alcohol can lead to numerous health problems, and even drinking moderately can have an adverse impact on your sleep quality and mood. People are beginning to wake up to the impact of alcohol, and more people than ever are choosing to rethink their drinking habits.
Alcohol as the Norm
In the Western world, alcohol is so normalized that people who abstain are considered unusual. Alcohol is marketed as an essential ingredient for having a good time, an idea that is echoed in many TV shows and movies, and people who don’t drink are often judged as boring. For a long time, sobriety has been considered a last-resort option for alcoholics or those with a health condition affected by alcohol. But the mindset around sobriety is changing.
Does Alcohol Improve Your Life?
Because alcohol is considered the norm, people rarely stop to ask themselves why they are drinking. People often start questioning their drinking habits if they become aware they are problematic and dismiss the idea of sobriety if they think that they are in control. But there are other important questions to ask yourself. Does drinking alcohol improve your life? Does it enrich your experiences? Rather than thinking, ‘Can I drink?’, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to drink?’ Asking yourself these questions can help you to question the choices around drinking, leading to behavior changes.
Mindful drinking is the act of consuming alcohol mindfully. Rather than total sobriety, a mindful drinker tries to be completely aware of every alcoholic drink they consume. For example, if a waiter in a restaurant offered to top up their wine glass, they would mindfully think about the decision and choose what’s best for themself, regardless of what everyone else at the table is choosing. Being mindful when drinking means that you stay in control of your decisions and don’t end up drinking more than you planned, succumbing to peer pressure, or regretting your choices.
Opting for Sobriety
People are often interrogated for not drinking. If you choose sobriety for no real reason other than personal preference, the choice is often considered weird, and you might feel you have to justify it to friends and co-workers. But increasing numbers of people are choosing not to drink alcohol, purely because they feel it improves their life. People find they have improved sleep and mental health, more energy, and better skin.
Drinking to Have Fun
Sometimes people are conflicted when questioning their choices around drinking alcohol. They realize that they wouldn’t enjoy certain situations in their lives without having a drink. Drinking changes your mental state; this is often the desired effect. Having a drink to loosen up on a date, get over a breakup, or survive a tense social situation are all very normalized.
One interesting result of choosing sobriety or mindful drinking is that people often challenge this social norm, choosing instead to only attend social events that they can enjoy without a drink in their hand. This behavior change can lead to an improved life full of enjoyable activities rather than awkward, forced interactions that you’d much rather avoid.
Drinking alcohol has been normalized to the point where abstaining or even making mindful choices is considered unusual, but attitudes are changing. Dry January and Sober October have helped people understand the benefit of taking short, regular breaks from drinking, and there is a growing market for non-alcoholic drinks such as 0% wines and beers. The norms are shifting, and people are becoming more conscious that drinking alcohol is a personal choice rather than something you have to start doing the moment you are old enough.