For many people this bank holiday weekend is an opportunity to enjoy extended time with family and friends, finally get out into the garden and maybe even tackle some DIY. These extra days holiday from work can bring a temptation to drink more alcohol than usual.

But while those extra drinks may help put you in the mood to celebrate, too much could leave you feeling more ravaged than refreshed come Tuesday morning. 

Wasted weekend

“My bank holiday last year was a bit too heavy,” admits John, a 32-year-old graphic designer from London.

“My firm were making redundancies, so I’d been racking up the over-time and by the time bank holiday came round I really wanted to go out and forget about it all. I managed to fit in drinks after work a family barbecue, a club night and dinner with my girlfriend into three days.

"When Monday came around I felt too rough to do anything.”

John says that after his long weekend what he really needed was another holiday to recover. That’s because although in very small amounts alcohol can help some people to relax in the short term, too much can actually exacerbate stress, and increase any feelings of anxiety or depression.

Excess alcohol also interferes with sleep patterns – so it can rob you of the quality shuteye your body needs to feel fully refreshed.

The benefits of cutting back

If you fancy a bank holiday that’s more balanced, then sticking within the low risk unit guidelines will help. The guidelines advise that women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units daily and that men should not regularly exceed 3-4 units daily. ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week. Three units is the equivalent of a large glass of wine, or a pint of premium lager.

Reduce your bank holiday alcohol intake

Then it pays to focus on the benefits that cutting back brings. Remember that playing it right on Sunday night means that Monday doesn’t have to be the day you’re stuck inside with a grinding hangover and that bank holiday Bond film you’ve seen a million times before. And best of all, whatever you decide to do with your long weekend, you’ll enjoy it all the more when you’re not battling against the after-effects of last night’s drinking.

Try a dry weekend?

Drinking alcohol can be costly, on your bank balance and your energy levels. Think of the money you could save if you avoided expensive drinks on a Bank Holiday night out or trips to the shops when supplies run out. A weekend with zero alcohol outgoings could make a real difference to your finances. Whereas four days uninterrupted sleep means it’ll feel like a proper break and you’ll feel refreshed.  

Top five bank holiday highlights

  1. Take it outdoors (weather permitting!): The clocks have just gone forward which means lighter evenings to enjoy the garden, local park or beauty spot. Making the most of the longer days means you’ll be less tempted to start any nights out you’ve got arranged with your friends early.   
  2. Heading out to a club or gig: With a bonus day off to look forward to, the long weekend makes the perfect time to catch some late-night music. To help you stay the distance (and not miss your favourite song by being in the bathroom) space out alcoholic drinks with soft drinks, and remember to buy soft drinks for friends too if they look like they’re flagging.
  3. Having a proper lie in: One of the best bank holiday feelings is hitting ‘snooze’ for the tenth time before having a lazy breakfast. And if you stick to the government guidelines the night before you’re more likely to wake up feeling great rather than grotty.
  4. Visiting a gastropub for lunch: Thanks to the rise of home grown foodie culture, pub grub has moved on from the days when microwaved pies and frozen chips were the norm. Many pubs have earned themselves reputations as real food destinations, which means a trip to the pub can be enjoyed, by non-drinkers and those choosing not to drink alcohol.
  5. Watching the big match: Bank holidays are always packed with must-see sport, so seek out friends who are up for watching the match at home or heading somewhere with a big screen. If you do choose to drink, make your units go further by sticking to one drink in the first and second half of the match.

Know what’s in your drinks

You’re more likely to enjoy your bank holiday if you understand how strong your drinks are and exactly how many units they contain.

If you’re planning to have a drink this weekend use our Track and Calculate Units App. You’ll get a clear view of how many units and calories you’ve consumed and get personalised support to help you cut back.