Limit booze to be­have at of­fice party

North Shore Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Party tips

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 email­fax­me­ with Karen in the sub­ject line.

Work Christ­mas func­tions are a mine­field.

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