By Caroline Thain
I used to share a tiny newspaper office with one other reporter; a chap straight out of journalism college called Tom Sandham.
We had a laugh and he was funny but I didn’t think he’d end up as an award-winning author, The Telegraph drinks columnist and one half of comedy duo Thinking Drinkers, who perform shows and write books about how to do booze better.
Quality drinking over quantity is their message. Drinking less but drinking better makes your purse, your palette and your liver happier. And it’s not just them. I’ve been seeing articles, books and television features about mindful drinking. It sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it?
<Assumes yogic meditation pose and tries to be all Zen, whatever that is> “I’m just closing my eyes and focusing on the Co-op-y goodness of this four quid own brand South African rose. Mmmn, I am mindfully noticing the acidic aftertaste – a mix of reduced sugar cranberry juice, malt vinegar and stale raisins on a bed of urine-drenched cat litter.” I don’t think I’d make a very good mindful drinker or alcohol critic.
The trouble is it sounds a bit too active. I’m not a huge drinker anyway - I might have a large glass of wine after a busy week or a big Bailey’s at Christmas. But from what I can tell people drink to celebrate and drink to chill out: by definition if they have to think about it then it’s surely counter to the relaxation goal, no?
Thinking Drinkers are not the only ones who swear by deliberately choosing to be consciously aware of your experience as you drink. Mindful drinking is really a thing and it’s not just for hippies either. Could you really do this? After two glasses you’d probably forget to be mindful and chuck it in the ‘stuff it’ bucket.
But it’s taken pretty seriously… There are mindful drinking festivals and self help books and they’re all about being aware of each drink you have. Conscious consumption involves looking for triggers (a place, a person, a situation) and considering how you can address them without alcohol.
Rosamund Dean, author of Mindful Drinking, suggests thinking about every drink and asking yourself if you really want it; looking at your habits and working through triggers a step at a time. It helps us avoid social pressure to drink heavily at parties or have another drink because it’s your round or because of expectation at certain dates/events. She also sticks to the rule of three - which is three days a week and never more than three drinks.
Others do Dry January, mindful pub crawls or consult the Good Pub Guide for Mindful Drinkers, which lists best places to get sophisticated alcohol-free or low alcohol beverages. Some try hypnosis or meditating on mantras before going out, pledging to only have a few.
If any of this has whet your appetite, Club Soda (a movement of mindful drinkers) offers eight-week online courses to support and encourage willing participants in how to intentionally drink less - avoiding hangovers from hell, saving money and improving overall health and wellbeing. It’s worth mentioning that throughout February the course is half price at £25.
Follow @thinkingdrinks, @rosamunddean and @joinclubsoda on Twitter for more details.