F*ck hangovers! There I said it.
As I’ve launched into my 30’s, I’m still reminded that the engine isn’t firing as it used to. After two years working on strategies for smarter drinking for myself and my community we are getting there; and the differences in happiness, productivity and our bank accounts are a testaments to this.
But, there are still the odd slips.
We love a drink and sometimes it calls for a few more than a few. Whether it be a work Christmas party, 30th birthday or a wedding celebration, they can come with the all to familiar next day side-effects:
Extended hangovers, mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds instead of working, and worst of all, the edgy anxious feeling where you could at any moment forget to breathe.
1. Record your experiences
We all know the drill. Party Saturday night, hangover Sunday, sometimes into Monday. Swear to yourself you will never drink again. Come Friday… SPRING BREAK!!!
The basic way to hack a behaviour is to relive it and be openly honest with yourself about it. You can simply do this by putting down the information in a calendar/ diary/ app with the name of the event and a simple question — was it worth it?
‘Yes’ You’re drinking smart, go you!
‘No’ You have an opportunity to identify why it wasn’t worth it and try to avoid the same situations.
Case in point:
Chase, in her early 20s and working at a growing tech company in London. She was drinking most weekends with the same people at the same pub. At the end of the month we discussed why 8/9 times weren’t worth it.
Getting drunk and wasting money were the contributors, but diving deeper we worked out it wasn’t the company, she loved her mates, it was the venues. AKA pubs with people there for one reason — to get hammered.
I asked her what she really likes to do with her weekends. She said it was simply to try new food. So we decided that the following month she would make a conscious effort to go with the same friends to new restaurants and have a few drinks, sometimes kick on, sometimes not.
Most of the time she would still spend the same amount as the month prior, but now had explored a new cuisine and had a memorable experience. These were all ‘yes’, that’s smart drinking.
There are plenty of ways to join a community. You’re probably already in one. But if not, the best way to hack your drinking is to set a goal with one. Accountability is paramount for behaviour change.
For example, after years of resistance to the allure of Ned Flanders spandex, I finally joined some of my best buddies in their cycling club. All the team were pretty serious and my first ride I felt I held my own. Second one, I got cocky and decided it would be ok to go for a few drinks on a date the night prior, that turned into a mini-belter…
When I made it to the meeting point, I was sweaty, smelly and already out of breathe. That day wasn’t the hardest cycle, but my fitness levels were lagging and it brought the speed of the ride down. The guys had to wait for me and I could tell they were pissed that I’d got pissed.
From then on, I was accountable to being at my best for future rides. And although I still didn’t keep up with the super pace of the lads, they were respectful that I was giving it my best shot. To the point where I passed out once, but that’s another story ;) Community and accountability drives smarter decisions.
3. New Experiences
No brainer, but how often do we work Monday- Friday in our repetitious jobs. As humans we are inherently built to thrive on learning new skills and taking on new experiences. You may have noticed that our three hacks are intertwined, but the driving force here is the adrenaline from doing something out of the ordinary. Challenging your mind and or body.
Instead of going to the same work bar, ruffle some feathers and do something, completely different. Invite your team rock-climbing or something safer on platforms like Mashay. Or if it has to be booze related, go to a brewers meet up like Hop & Grain, try some new beers and learn more about the process. You’ll have a ripping conversation starter next time you’re having a few conscious coldies :D