We don’t generally associate the term ‘moderation’ with the yachting industry. Still, in recent years, it’s arguable that many crew members have become more health aware, and for some, this may mean wanting to create healthier drinking habits.
As we approach the holiday season, cutting down on booze might seem like a daunting task, especially with all those crew parties looming on the calendar. It is also common practice in yachting culture to work hard and play harder, and after a busy work week, a dockside beer on a Friday afternoon may be something you do not want to give up anytime soon.
Perhaps then, the answer is not to completely abstain, but to get smarter about our habits. Listed below are 8 tips for crew that want to create healthier drinking habits so that they are able to develop and maintain a better relationship with alcohol.
1. Consider your reasons for cutting down and make a plan
If you’ve noticed you’ve developed some unhealthy habits surrounding alcohol, it might be a good idea to reduce your intake. Identifying your goal is a good place to start. Maybe you want to enjoy more hangover-free weekends in port, or reduce intake as part of a weight loss plan? Whatever your reasons, getting clear about your goals will increase your chances of succeeding in reaching them. According to Drinkaware.co.uk, cutting down could lead to better sleep, brighter skin and more energy after only a few days.
Elizabeth Hartney, Psychologist and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, suggests the idea of writing down a drinking plan, stating that:
“If you are a good candidate for controlled drinking, think about your goal and write it down. Some possible goals include: ‘I just want to drink on weekends, ‘I want to lower my overall intake to a healthy amount’, or ‘I want to be able to drink at parties and other events without getting drunk.’”
2. Let your crew mates know about your plan
In yachting, drinking is often at the forefront of socialising, and going for a few beers when you’re off charter is a typical way to be socially active. Make sure to let your other crew members aware of your goals, or perhaps even include friends in your plan to cut down on booze. Planning alcohol-free activities at the weekend is a good place to start. This approach is likely to cause fewer hiccups and could also lead to your crew or group creating healthier habits together.
Want to be social without drinking too much? Drinkaware.co.uk has a brilliant After Work Drinks Survival Guide, that provides excellent tips on how to avoid those 5 pm few turning into a big night out.
3. Consider your influences
You may also need to identify the relationships in your life that are not conducive to your plan to cut down, Hartney recommends you create some distance between yourself and those that influence heavier drinking:
“If there are any people who encourage you to drink too much, try to avoid them for the first month or so while you get used to your new style of drinking. If you are constantly surrounded by peer pressure to drink, start seeking out new friends or family members who don’t drink as much.”
4. Water, Water, Water
It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to bypass water consumption when you’re already ‘hydrating’ with alcohol. By drinking water (or a soft drink) in between alcoholic drinks you’ll slow down the effects of alcohol. You’re also less likely to feel dreadful the next day if you make sure that you are hydrating healthily.
Drinkaware.co.uk recommend to:
“pace yourself by having a soft drink or two after every alcoholic drink. It’ll help stop you from getting dehydrated too. If you’re starting drinking earlier in the day try sticking to soft drinks for the first couple of hours before you start on the alcohol.”
5. Only drink on a full stomach
Having a nutritious and filling meal before you start drinking “dilutes the effect of alcohol consumption and therefore reduces the drive to drink excessively” Hartney confirms. Having something in your stomach before you start drinking may also reduce your chances of reaching for a greasy takeaway at the end of the night – also a known cause for feeling less than great the day after.
6. Learn how to say ‘No’
Be prepared that other crew may not understand the reasons for your plan. You don’t need to justify your decision to others, but coming up with a clear statement will help you to stay firm in your plan to cut down. Ask a friend to assist you with safeguarding against peer pressure, this support will bolster your confidence in saying no to excessive drinking.
7. Avoid Rounds
Avoiding rounds is not the easiest of tasks as a yachtie, we know. Drinkaware recommends avoiding costly rounds to gain more control over your pace of drinking:
“Getting involved in rounds means you normally end up drinking at the fastest drinker’s pace. Not only might you end up drinking more than you would have if you were buying your own drinks, you’ll spend more too”
8. Expect Setbacks
Don’t allow a setback to cause you to descend into shame, just recognise your efforts and try again. Shawntrell Moore, a certified alcohol drug counsellor with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Chicago, told Forbes Health:
“Success really is about how you respond to setbacks and things that are thrown your way,” says Moore. “If someone’s strategy to drink less doesn’t work, it’s crucial to recognise and reflect on lessons learned and take action—at least one next, right step—to begin making a change.”
If you would like to seek further advice about drinking or substance abuse, there are various services and charities to contact:
- Drinkaware.co.uk provides support, education and tools to help you reduce your drinking and improve your habits.
- CALM is an amazing mental health charity. You can find advice and support on their website, as well as a directory of Alcohol support services:
- Mind.org.uk also provide an excellent catalogue of services that may be of help if you are struggling with alcohol or addiction of any kind.
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