Did you try Dry January this year and “fail” because you had a glass of wine or cocktail? Did you feel bad and give up or feel like trying the rest of the month was pointless because you “slipped up”? Give yourself a break and a pat on the back for even trying. I’d say even an attempt at giving up alcohol is the start of a healthier relationship with it.
Americans thrive on binarys. But all or nothing, good or bad, sober or drinker, sets many of us up for failure. And that is frigging exhausting. I have enough stress from running my own business, being a mother during a pandemic, and generally trying to be a functioning member of society, that I don’t need self imposed rules that I’m bound to break on occasion. I’m also not one thing or the other, sober or a drinker, I’m both at many moments in my life.
Even our best intentions can be derailed by a simple craving or a bad day. And that’s ok. We have good days and bad days, we have seasonal rhythms, and mood related rhythms. I’d like to make an argument for embracing these rhythms, acknowledging that our needs, wants, and desires change often. Sometimes often within a single day. I want to encourage you to be mindful of what will serve you best in the moment. I’m advocating that maybe mindful drinking is a more sustainable approach than sober or not.
What is Mindful Drinking?
Mindful drinking brings the self-reflection of meditation to choosing whether or not you have a cocktail. It’s an awareness of what you're consuming, how much you're consuming, and under what circumstances you’re consuming it. Understanding what serves you best at any given moment, also means understanding your relationship to the choice you are making and the effects it will have later in the day, tomorrow, or even further down the road.
Sometimes taking a break from alcohol for a month or even a week brings this awareness into focus. This is why you hear many folks say they want to continue Dry January or Sober October long after the month is over. It’s also why many folks drink significantly less alcohol, even though they go back to it, after taking a break. I love this trend. It helps to normalize not drinking and stops many of us from having a drink just because it’s there.
At The Bitter Housewife we believe in mindful drinking, making a conscious choice about what serves you in the moment. We believe in great drinks, whether they have alcohol or not. And we believe you should make your own best choices, not follow anyone else’s rules.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that mindful drinking doesn’t work for everyone. Some people need to completely abstain from alcohol because for them there is no middle ground. I get it and support everyone’s choice to live their best possible life, no matter what that looks like.
Right now I’m talking to those of you who are working to make good, healthy choices and are struggling with the all or nothing binary. Think about a mindful approach. Ask yourself if you’re having that glass of wine or cocktail simply because it’s there or because you really want to experience the flavor and you’ll have an extra glass of water so you don’t pay for it tomorrow.
I love an Old Fashioned. It’s the whole reason The Bitter Housewife exists. However, three Old Fashioneds on a Tuesday night doesn’t work for me, but one on a Friday is awesome. Many nights I grab a Bitters & Soda, because it’s not really the alcohol I want, it's the complex flavor of a cocktail. On the other hand, sometimes we’ll have a nice steak for a mid-week dinner and I want a glass of wine to go with it, so I have one without any regrets.
Sometimes you want a cocktail and sometimes you don’t. Either choice can honestly be the best for you in the moment as long as you are fully conscious of the choice you are making and the effects. And neither choice has to define who you are as a person. You don’t have to be sober or a drinker, you can simply be an enjoyer of great beverages. That’s why we make them.