What makes you reach for the bottle?
Like it or not, you might well recognise one of these drinking ‘characters’...
When you pour a glass of wine or ping the cap off a beer, do you ever think about what your motivation is?
Whether reaching for the corkscrew after a hard day at work or having a few beers in front of the football, there are certain situations that tend to go hand in hand with a drink.
You’ve done a solid eight hours in the office, up against deadlines, a demanding boss and fussy clients. When you fall in the front door, blood pressure sky high, a relaxing drink is like water in the desert to you.
Or perhaps you’ve been running around after children since the crack of dawn. The second bed-time arrives and out comes the wine.
Alcohol may help you relax for an hour or two. But it can increase your stress levels overall. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down the brain and the central nervous system’s processes. At first this can make you more relaxed and less wound up, but if you drink too much it can end up making you feel depressed, anxious – and more stressed. If you are going to drink, stick to the government’s daily guidelines whic
h advise that women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units (equivalent to a 175ml glass of 13% wine) and that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
There are lots of other things you can do to unwind. Hitting the gym or heading to a yoga class are some of the best. Or you could simply break into a box set you’ve always fancied, or phone a friend and share your frustrations.
The dinner time guzzler
For you, dinner isn’t complete without a glass of wine or two.
It all starts with the preparation. You love playing chef for family and friends, and a glass of wine while you cook up a storm is all part of the fun. But often that turns into two or three and oops...half the bottle’s gone before you even make it to the table. Then the rest goes during the meal.
Why not save the alcohol until you sit down to eat? That way you’ll make sure your meal is perfect, and you’ll stay hydrated while slaving over your hot stove. You’ll also be alert for dinner time conversation. Take a look at our tips for a low-alcohol dinner party.
If you’ve got some wine left over, no need to finish the bottle. Put the last bits in an ice cube tray, freeze them and use them in your cooking next time – wine can be great for sauces, marinades and gravy.
The sports fan
You love football. Rugby. Maybe a bit of cricket. Your perfect weekend is watching all the big matches on TV. Accompanied by a beer or two or three...
The last thing you want to do is miss the full euphoria of a screamer of a goal because you’ve drunk a bit too much. Often, you’ll be watching sport for a good couple of hours at least. So the key is to drink within the daily unit guidelines and pace yourself. Having a soft drink for every alcoholic one will slow you down, as will eating – so get plenty of healthy snacks in. You could try some low alcohol beer too.
The ‘relax, it’s the weekend!’ drinker
When Friday finally rolls round you can flop down on the sofa and look forward to a couple of days off. It’s time to celebrate, which may mean cracking open a bottle. But if the celebration lasts though into Saturday night and even on to Sunday lunch you're in trouble.
Why not think about only drinking on one weekend evening as a compromise – either a Friday or a Saturday?
Keeping within the daily unit guidelines is important. But it can be difficult to keep track of what you’re drinking at home. If you drink spirits, ordering our unit measure cup is a good idea – otherwise you can easily pour far larger measures than you would get in a pub. Buying small (125ml) wine glasses will help you drink less and keep track too.
Health effects of alcohol
From the second you take your first sip, alcohol starts affecting your body and mind. Some of alcohol’s effects disappear overnight – while others can stay with you a lot longer, or indeed become permanent.
The effects of alcohol on your body
Use our interactive infographic to find out what effect alcohol has on your body.Health Effects
Page updated: May 2013
Did you know?
More than 1 in 10 deaths of people in their 40s are from liver disease, most are from alcoholic liver diseaseAlcohol and the liver
Calculate your calories
Find out how many calories are in your drinksTry our unit calculator
- The role of alcohol in your life
- What are your excuses for getting drunk?
- Alcohol and aggression
- Alcohol dependence
- Your alcohol risk level
Also in this section
Daily unit guidelines
You should not regularly exceed:Find out how many units are in your favourite drink