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How much alcohol should you have? Tips to avoid drinking too much during the holidays

With awareness and preparation, you'll be better equipped to monitor your alcohol intake.

Alcohol is a common theme at holiday events. So how can you avoid drinking too much? (Photo via Getty Images)
Alcohol is a common theme at holiday events. So, how can you avoid drinking too much? (Photo via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

As the holiday season gets into full swing, your social calendar might be filled with events, parties and family get-togethers. One thing these events will often have in common? Alcohol — and lots of it.

If you are hoping to sidestep a hangover after a few too many mulled wines, here are some effective ways to drink less while still enjoying the festivities.

Business woman creating an alcohol drinking plan working at office with documents on his desk, Business woman holding pens and papers making notes in documents on the table, Hands of financial manager taking notes
Create a drinking plan before going to an event with alcohol. (Photo via Getty Images)

Tips to cut down on holiday drinking

If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, a few simple things can help.

Create a drinking plan

Before you skip off to your next holiday gathering, write out a plan to define how you will drink less. The more specific you can be, the more effective you will be. This is the psychology behind goal setting.

Your action plan should include measurable goals.

  • How many drinks do you want to drink?

  • What will they be?

  • What time will you have them?

  • Do you want to stay completely sober?

  • If so, what alternatives will you drink instead?

Keep yourself accountable by keeping a record of how you did. If you don’t hit it, don’t worry, you can try again at the next event.

De-stress before a party

With the holidays comes lots of stress and extra tasks, which can cause you to reach for an extra drink. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your stress without alcohol.

Taking time to de-stress before entering a social situation is a great way to help you stay conscious of how much you are drinking.

Before a gathering, try relaxing with breathing and de-stressing exercises, giving yourself a quick neck massage, taking a bath or working out. You can do these things quickly and at home, making them easier to fit around your busy holiday schedule.

Alternate drinks with alcohol-free alternatives

Woman sitting cross legged while meditating on a yoga mat
De-stressing is a great way to help you stay conscious of how much you are drinking. (Photo via Getty Images)

Do you love the taste of certain alcoholic drinks? Do you look forward to toasting with your favourite festive drink every year but then end up drinking too much?

If this is the case, try alternating every drink with a non-alcoholic alternative. And remember that not drinking doesn’t have to mean sticking to water or soda.

Many Canadian brands now offer non-alcoholic beers, spirits and mixed drinks. Or, try mixing yourself a festive mocktail. When you make it fun, you won’t notice you are reducing your alcohol intake.

Bring your own drinks

Bringing your own drinks is a smart way to minimize your alcohol intake and keep track of what you are drinking.

You can plan when you will drink them and pace yourself throughout the night. As a result, you are less likely to lose track of how many different drinks you’ve sampled.

Don’t be the last guest standing

beneath view of people clinking glasses at a party
Bringing your own drinks is a smart way to minimize your alcohol intake. (Photo via Getty Images)

While you can stay at that party as late as you want, the longer you stay, the more drinks you are likely to consume.

Even if the party is still going, have an exit strategy and stick to it. Choose a hard cut-off time, set an alarm on your phone, or tell a friend to call you. You’ll thank yourself the next day.

Remind yourself why you are doing it

When you feel like reaching for another glass of wine, remind yourself of the good things that come from minimizing your drinking.

Will it help you progress towards your fitness and health goals, be more present with your family or feel more productive the next day? Focus on your personal and professional goals and how alcohol might impact them.

Enjoy alcohol in moderation this holiday season

It’s important to learn how to balance alcohol and your health.

It’s possible to have fun while drinking less and avoiding hungover anxiety. Remind yourself by writing down ways you can have fun sober. You may even want to make a list of the family and friends you would like to spend more time with without drinking too much.

With more awareness, preparation and tools at the ready, you'll be better equipped to avoid overindulging in alcohol during the holidays.

If you feel you need support with alcohol abuse, you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous Canada.

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