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Mindful Drinking 101: How to Prioritize Your Health and Still Enjoy Drinking Semrushtools

What is Mindful Drinking?

Mindful drinking is more than an idea. It’s a movement. A community growing larger by the day. Put simply, it’s all about thinking while drinking. Mindful drinking is not about quitting alcohol but instead being aware of how much alcohol you’re drinking and its impact on you in the moment. It’s about recognizing the reasons for and the ramifications of drinking. It’s about improving your relationship with alcohol so you maximize enjoyment and minimize negative side effects like hangovers, regrets, and anxiety.

Are you curious about trying mindful drinking for yourself? Tens of thousands of people are using Sunnyside to reduce their drinking, improve their mornings, and feel better by drinking more mindfully. Curious? Take a look at our mindful drinking app and take our free quiz.

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Mindful Drinking: A Growing Trend That’s Here to Stay

Our society has long presented drinking alcohol as 1) a necessary accoutrement to a good time or 2) a problem. That’s changing. So often we think of life in black-and-white terms of “either/or,” but the space in between is vast. 

Studies have shown that nearly half of adults who drink want to cut back, but not quit entirely. They want an alternative to “either/or.” Enter mindful drinking, a movement that rests comfortably in the in-between for those who wish to proactively live a healthier lifestyle without completely giving up the beverages they enjoy. In recent years, the term “sober curiosity” has been referred to more broadly as mindful drinking, which simply means actively tracking and managing drinking as another way to care about your health, just like you do when you count calories and track your steps. It’s a proactive—rather than reactive—approach to managing your relationship with alcohol.

In 2019, 47% of adults in the U.S. said they were making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption, yet fewer than 1% of drinkers were seeking outside help to change their drinking habits. (Source: Nielsen IQ)

The ripple effect of mindful drinking and sober curiosity has resulted in significant media attention, sober curious influencers, dry bars, dry retreats, dry festivals, online communities, hashtags and apps such as our own Sunnyside, an easy-to-use approach designed to help people improve their drinking habits and feel both healthier and happier. Sunnyside is free to try with a 15-day trial. Start by taking the 3-minute quiz.

Mindful drinking has made such a splash that major beer, wine and spirit makers are taking note by offering nonalcoholic or low-alcohol offerings—something industry forecasters predict will continue to rise as popularity turns into bigger and bigger profits. In fact, total volume is forecasted to grow by 31% by 2024, according to the recently released No- and Low-Alcohol Strategic Study 2021 from the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. 

It’s a whole lot of buzz for a movement that calls for a moderation of buzz. 

And with good reason. Mindful drinking can make room for real change—physically, mentally and financially—in a positive, proactive way, akin to any practice that supports wellbeing. Participants do less judging and more encouraging for long-term results, just like we congratulate friends on losing weight while also believing in the tradition of eating birthday cake. It’s a trend that continues to point upward not only for its success but also for its circle of friendly, non-judgmental support in which so many participants find themselves. Our society is intentional about betterment, particularly when it comes to health and wellness. Mindful drinking is the missing piece of the puzzle—and more and more people are discovering it. In fact, 39%of adults who drink alcohol say they have considered mindful drinking, according to our newly released State of Drinking in the US: Fall 2021 report.

A Doctor Weighs in on the Benefits of Mindful Drinking

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Dr. Hrishikesh Belani, a Los Angeles primary care physician promotes to his patients the benefits of drinking mindfully. He notes there are a wide array of upsides to cutting back on alcohol.

“Doctors are increasingly realizing that apps can help many patients better manage their health—and that includes tech tools that enable and empower people to build better habits around alcohol,” Dr. Belani says. “There are many advantages to cutting back on alcohol, and mindful drinking apps can play a pivotal role.”

Dr. Belani, a Sunnyside advisor, says some of the potential health benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption include:

  • Improved sleep. Alcohol in high amounts can disrupt sleep patterns causing you to awake tired and unrested. Cutting back from high to moderate or low amounts of alcohol has been shown to improve sleep quality substantially.  
  • Anxiety reduction. A decrease of 30% in drinking in 30 days (which is being achieved by Sunnyside members) can lead to better sleep and reduced anxiety. Excessive alcohol consumption causes hormonal imbalances which can increase anxiety in stressful situations. 
  • Weight management. Overdoing it on alcohol consumption is a common barrier to maintaining a healthy weight. At an average of 125 calories per drink, even a small reduction can make a big difference.
  • Lower blood pressure: Alcohol use in heavy amounts—greater than 3 to 4 drinks a day—is associated with higher blood pressure. Cutting back by 2 to 3 drinks per day can help lower both systolic and diastolic pressure.
  • Better liver function. Many physicians have seen an uptick in patients with alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease¹. Alcohol use can lead to a build-up of fat in the liver. This accumulation of fat can be a precursor to liver damage. A modest reduction in alcohol use can help prevent these potentially dangerous changes. 
  • Healthier skin. There are some aesthetic benefits of mindful drinking too. Heavy drinking is not a recipe for glowing skin. Heavy alcohol use can lead to more wrinkling and early aging of the skin. It is also pro-inflammatory, and can cause disruption of the usual function of blood vessels in the skin. This can result in skin that  looks duller, drier and puffier, and may even cause facial redness and blotchiness. 
  • More brainpower. The liver isn’t the only important organ that will benefit from more mindful drinking. One of the most common benefits that patients talk about when cutting back on their drinking is the greater focus, clarity and mental energy they enjoy. The result is often higher cognitive performance and greater motivation.

Drinking more mindfully is easy with Sunnyside. You just start with a quiz, choose a plan, and track your drinks via text message. Over time you’ll build new awareness and habits that help you enjoy drinking more by drinking more mindfully.

Mindful Drinking While Socializing: It’s Possible

So many of our social activities involve drinking. We drink at work happy hours and while at restaurants on dates and when out late with friends and then again at brunch the next morning. We serve wine and beer at book clubs and volunteer meetings, during the games and to the parents at our kids’ birthday parties.

Maybe you’ve decided to scale back your drinking. Maybe you want to lose some weight. Maybe you’re tired of hangovers. No matter the reason, you are not alone.  In the next three months, 47% of people plan to try to drink less alcohol or establish healthier habits, according to our aforementioned State of Drinking in the US: Fall 2021 report. Cutting back alcohol should feel as comfortable and normal as cutting calories or increasing your number of daily steps. But with drinking so embedded in so many of our social interactions, cutting back when interacting with others can sometimes feel a bit challenging. Here are 14 ideas on how to navigate social situations when you’re starting to drink more mindfully:

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