How to drink safely during the festive period
Christmas is a great time to relax and celebrate with friends, family and colleagues. Most work places have a festive night out, and it can often involve drinking. We understand you’ve been working hard all year; you’re soon going to finish for Christmas and have some well-deserved time off and you want to celebrate and let your hair down, however it is very easy to overindulge.
Drinking too much or ‘binge drinking’ can lead to increased health risks and some embarrassing and even disastrous results. Drinkaware reported that one in four (26%) of us have regretted something we did at a work Christmas party after drinking too much alcohol. Drinking too much can lead to you losing your inhibitions which affect your judgement. This can often lead you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t or may regret later.
A survey conducted for Drinkaware by Opinion Matters revealed the top five regrets from people at their work Christmas party were: 37% regretted kissing or trying to kiss a colleague, 24% regretted criticising a superior or colleague – half of which received warnings about their behaviour, 17% regretted being aggressive with a colleague – two thirds of which received a warning, 15% regretted oversharing personal issues and 13% regretted drinking too much and passing out. This shows that drinking too much can lead to regrettable decisions, and some of which can even jeopardise your job.
Drinking too much doesn’t just affect what happens on the work night out but can also affect the ability to work the next day, with the aftermath leading to some people not going to work or not being able to work the next day. Over one in eight (13%) admitted to calling in sick the day after. Over half of those who called in sick did so because they were embarrassed by or regretted their behaviour, and a third did so because they were too hungover. 13% said they managed to make it to work the next day but couldn’t manage to do any work. Drinking too much can lead to increased absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace.
Most people don’t go out with the intention to get drunk and make bad decisions, however they can be easily pressured or persuaded by other. The research also found that a third, (32%) of people felt peer pressure from colleagues to drink and almost two-fifths (38%) said they start their work Christmas party intending not to drink too much but care less as the night goes on.
Chief Executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, Elaine Hindal said “The festive season is a time to socialise with colleagues but as our research shows many of us may end up drinking more than we intended to, risking our health and potentially our professional reputation. The more alcohol you drink the more vulnerable you are to risky or even dangerous situations.”
“Effects from heavy drinking sessions can include: damage to your stomach lining which can result in diarrhoea or sickness; feeling shaky or anxious because of alcohols withdrawal effect on the brain and the negative effects on your mood, skin, weight and sleep. Drink to excess on a regular basis and these short-term effects can become long-term health problems.”
It is advised that you stick to the lower risk guidelines for alcohol consumption, which is no more than 3-4 units of alcohol for men in one day (equivalent to a pint and half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to one 175ml glass of wine). The current UK guidelines advise limiting alcohol intake to 14 units a week for women and men but this should be spread out over the week and not consumed all at once.
The NHS reports that a huge study of almost 600,000 drinkers showed that people who drank more than 12.5 units of alcohol a week were likely to die sooner than those who drank no more than this amount. Drinking excessively just one time can lead to some pretty terrible consequences, but if you make this a regular thing it can very seriously affect your health and can even kill you.
Tips for drinking less and staying safe this festive season
There are a number of tips and tricks you can follow which can help you to consume less alcohol this festive season and save yourself from possible embarrassment at your work Christmas party. Follow the below tips to help yourself enjoy your Christmas nights out without the negative consequences.
- Follow the guidelines – Stick to the alcohol consumption guidelines.
- Alternate drinks – Try making every other drink you have a glass of water or a soft drink.
- Avoid drinking in rounds– this way you can drink at your own pace and not feel pressured into having another drink.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach – you need a healthy meal before you go out to help slow down the absorption of the alcohol into your bloodstream. Having some snacks in between drinks can also help slow this down further and help you remain in control. Why not arrange a Christmas meal for your works night out, that way even if people do decide to drink, you’ll have guaranteed they have lined their stomachs first?
- Be assertive – don’t feel pressured into drinking more than you want.
- Have smaller drinks – One way to enjoy having a drink but ensure you don’t drink too much is to opt for a smaller drink. If you drink wine go for a small glass or if you drink beer have a half pint instead of a full pint.
- Know your limits and ensure you stick to them. Keep track of what you are drinking and don’t continually top up a drink until you have finished it, so you can keep an eye on how much alcohol you’re consuming.
- Take your time – drink slowly taking sips not large gulps and never down your drink in one.
- Don’t mix drinks with medications – if you are taking any medications you shouldn’t be drinking as it can cause reactions which can seriously damage your health.
- Keep warm – Although when you drink alcohol you may feel less cold, you may not be as warm as you think you are. Alcohol causes blood to flow to the blood vessels near your skin and away from the core of your body. So, whilst your skin may feel warm, your vital organs won’t be as warm as you might think they are. Ensure you wrap up warm and always wear a coat when outdoors. Temperatures are very low at this time of the year and can drop significantly at night time, so you can lose heat very quickly out in the cold after drinking.
- Stick together – Leave your Christmas night out or party in groups, or with at least one other person. When left alone at night you can be particularly vulnerable especially so when you have been drinking. This goes for men and women – never leave anyone behind.
- Plan how you’ll get home whilst sober – Make sure you have figured out how you’ll be getting home before you go on your night out. If you’re getting a lift with someone make sure you stick with that person, or if you’re ordering a taxi make sure you book it in advance or take a licensed black cab.
Kays Medical want to ensure you drink safely this Christmas. We understand Christmas is a time to celebrate and have fun and this often involves a lot of drinking but we want to make sure you have fun whilst staying safe. Follow our tips on drinking to ensure you enjoy the festive period without any regrets. Remember to stay safe, drink responsibly and enjoy yourself this Christmas.