Alcoholic beverages are served at many holiday celebrations. Just as there are a zillion types of holiday cookies, there are many festive alcoholic beverages. The creative drinks can be fun, but a challenge to moderation and good health.
Ready, set, go
During the holidays, it is easy to overdo it with alcoholic beverages, so take some time to think it through before you jingle out the door to events waiting for you. Perhaps consider who you would like to team up with throughout the holiday season to set your limits. Whether it is family member, significant other or a friend, this kind of partnership can be powerful and effective.
A few techniques:
- Time: Arrive early and depart before the heavy drinking ensues. As a courtesy, it is a nice touch to alert the host or hostess when you plan to leave.
- Travel: Make sure you have reliable sober transportation or be prepared to call for a ride. Choosing a designated driver is a practice that college students are encouraged to follow, and the practice should apply to everyone during the holiday season. Keep an eye on each other – even a little alcohol can impair driving skills and judgment.
- Consumption: If you have decided not to drink alcohol, bring your favorite beverage and consider pouring it in a party glass to fit in with the crowd. If you will be drinking alcohol, make a pact to have one drink then switch to water or a soft drink.
- Health always: Consider taking a walk now and then as a health break to mix with the merriment.
What is moderation?
Indulging in alcoholic drinks in moderation really means having no more than one standard drink a day for women and up to two standard drinks for men age 65 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can be easy to exceed these limits, especially when someone else is topping off your glass. The CDC accepted measure long-term for moderate drinking means women who drink more than seven drinks per week and men who drink more than 14 drinks week after week are at risk.
Good to know
Okay, so why can men can drink more than women? What is the science? Two facts: 1) Women tend to have less muscle tissue than men. Muscle tissue contains water, and alcohol dissolves in water and is thus diluted. Due to the fact that men have about 10 percent more water in their bodies, they can drink more alcohol than women without becoming intoxicated; 2) Men also have more of an enzyme in their stomachs that metabolizes alcohol. This is important to know and important to share with young drinkers.
A question of openness
Perhaps you just want everyone to be safe in a general sense or you want to be part of setting good examples. If you are comfortable sharing your personal concerns with family and friends, consider being open with them. If you are recovering from alcoholism or another SUD (Substance Use Disorder), it may make sense to talk about triggers with your support circle Practice your pat response for declining a drink. Recovery will be as private or public as you want it to be, depending on how much you want to share with others. Likewise, if you are coping with depression, it may make sense to talk about what makes you feel safe and supported during this time.
Plan the season
Consider the overall events and activities of the holiday season.
- Which activities make you feel good? Sometimes volunteering to help with various causes that are important to you intensifies your sense of purpose.. Check the mix.
- Which activities foster genuine connection to the people in your life? Concentrate on taking part in events that involve little or no drinking. Perhaps a concert with holiday music or a tour of holiday decorations are among activities to keep everyone in a healthful state of mind.
- What should your plan look like? Focus on a few key events and limit the amount of time at events that don’t support your values and your health. Your planning can be as simple or involved as you like.
Finding the right mix of healthy habits is key to mental health during the holidays and day to day. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you at Community Reach Center. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.