People, places and times can all be triggers to drinking to excess. Understanding your personal triggers can help you break those associations so you can change your behaviour to fit your lifestyle.
If you’re regularly drinking more than the low risk guidelines (14 units a week for both men and women) it could be time to cut down.
"I've had a tough day"
Using alcohol to cope with stress is common. But while the immediate effects of drinking can make you feel more relaxed, if you regularly drink more than the low risk guidelines, your stress levels could soar.
That’s because alcohol is a depressant and can interfere with the brain's function, causing low moods and anxiety. Even a few drinks can interrupt your sleep pattern so you wake up feeling tired – which will only add to your stress levels the following day.
Instead of going for a drink after a tough day at work, why not take a trip to the gym, or if the weather's good, get out for a walk to clear your head? Exercise is an effective way to reduce signs of stress in both the body and the mind, and can boost confidence.
More on alcohol and stress
“I haven’t got work tomorrow”
For some people, a drink or two after clocking off for the weekend or for a holiday marks the start of the fun and relaxation. However, alcohol can leave you feeling anxious and stressed.
If you want to celebrate your time off, set yourself a sensible limit and drink plenty of soft drinks when you’re out – that way you're more likely to wake up hangover-free and ready to get on with your day.
Tips to prevent a hangover
“The sun is shining”
In the UK we like to celebrate those occasional rare days of sunshine. If you choose to drink alcohol in the sun, staying hydrated is vital. Alcohol dehydrates your body so drink plenty of water. Legally, pubs in England and Wales now have to give you tap water for free. And a jug of water at a barbecue will help keep everyone properly hydrated.
“I’m out with my mates”
A night out with friends might risk ending up as a heavy drinking session, especially if you are all buying rounds.
Rounds often force you to drink quicker because everyone is under pressure to drink at the same rate as the fastest drinker.
Try having a soft drink for some rounds to reduce the amount you're drinking, or opt out of rounds altogether.
“I’ve got friends coming round”
When you’re entertaining friends at home, it can be easy to drink more than usual.
When your wine glass is constantly being topped up or you’re pouring generous home measures, it’s difficult to know just how much you and everyone else is drinking.
It’s good to have water and soft drinks available so your friends know that it’s not just alcohol on offer. Or you could try being more adventurous and no-alcohol cocktails.
“I’ve just been paid”
For many people, 5pm on pay day is a time to go out with work friends and have a drink. But drinking right after work can be dangerous if you haven’t eaten since lunchtime. That means there’s nothing to slow down the absorption of alcohol, so you feel the effects of alcohol faster and increase your risk of doing or saying something you might regret.
Why not go to a restaurant rather than the pub? That way you can have something to eat and make sure that that the evening revolves around food rather than alcohol. You could even save money by looking out for a two-for-one or 50% off deal.
Tips for after work socialising
Try the MyDrinkaware app to track how much you’re drinking in these situations and others.