Limit booze to behave at office party
Q: I like to go out and enjoy happy hour. My friends say I am lots of laughs, but I worry that sometimes I push the boat out, especially around work events. This time of year it’s always harder to try to make sensible decisions. How can I say yes to work drinks without going too crazy? I want to be able to trust myself at the work Christmas do and not wake up wondering if I groped the boss.
A: Dear Party Girl,
You’re so not alone in worrying about binge drinking
(or eating) over the next few weeks because the festive season exposes our vulnerabilities.
But alcohol has a mean streak because as well as impairing our memory and reaction times, it can lead us to do dumb things or get into embarrassing or dangerous situations.
Work Christmas functions are a minefield. Employment lawyers say the festive season is their busiest time of year because of all the ‘‘trouble’’ caused by drunken behaviour.
So you’re right to be wary – and arm yourself before the fun gets out of hand. Here’s a two-point plan for your health – and safety:
Do I drink too much?
First check in on your drinking generally. I’m not up for lecturing you but maybe you’re pushing the boat out too far, too often (without an anchor). There are lots of checklists online but here are some key questions to assess your drinking. Have you:
❚ Missed work or other important events/activities due to a hangover?
❚ Driven a car while intoxicated? ❚ Had family or friends comment on your drinking?
❚ Got in a fight, had unprotected sex or other risky behaviours while under the influence?
❚ Hidden or lied about your drinking (even on a small scale)?
❚ Felt ashamed/regretful ‘‘the day after’’ on a number of occasions? ‘‘Yes’’ answers to any of the above – especially if the behaviour is current – are red flags. But it’s over to you whether you’re ready to face them.
Worrying about your drinking in advance of the party is distressing. But it’s nothing compared to shame of going too far. So try these strategies on the night:
❚ Eat and hydrate (lots) before you go. Women, especially, tend to skip eating to keep the calories down. Beware! You’ll get drunker, faster.
❚ Drink slowly. Count your drinks, use a counter or app if necessary. Know your safe limits and stick to them.
❚ Mix up your drinks. Have water or a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones. Two if you can.
❚ Record your worst experiences. Write down what happens when you drink too much. It can be confronting to see it in print. Keep it on your phone or in your pocket and look at it when you start to wobble. ❚ Appoint a drinking buddy. Ask a colleague to monitor your drinking. But be aware this not an attractive job for anyone so bribe them (eg you buy brunch if you both get through the evening.)
❚ Book a taxi home in advance. And make sure you’re in it!
Finally, about groping the boss. Are you messing with me? You know what we’d throw at a man who even hinted at that and I can’t let you off the hook because you’re a woman.
If your boss is not single, your sexual advances are not consensual AND your colleagues witness it – you’re in big, big trouble girlfriend. If your drinking really puts you at risk of that, you’d better kick off your heels and stay home.
❚ Karen Nimmo is a clinical psychologist. If you have a question for Karen to tackle email email@example.com with Karen in the subject line.
Work Christmas functions are a minefield.