Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
what if wine o’clock is too much of a habit?
If you could bottle the laughter of girlfriends, it would be the world’s best tonic. Getting together with the girls for a wine or two is right up there at the top of my “favourite things to do” list.
However, a wonderful few summer months of late night barbecues, dancing on the beach and the lawn (and sometimes even the table), hairbrush-microphone singing
Dancing Queen and taste-testing every new botanical gin got me thinking.
All wonderful evenings for sure, which started with a cutesy text about popping over because it must be wine o’clock. The glass or two perhaps quickly spiralled to a bottle or two and suddenly the recycling bin is getting a tad heavy. When does this stop being funny, and the clinking glass emojis become a bit of a worry?
I love sorting out the world’s problems with my girl tribe over a glass or two of Prosecco, but alcohol consumption can sneak up on you. It’s good to remind ourselves that you don’t need alcohol to relax and no, you don’t have to drink to have fun. The drinking culture and pressures to drink – “come on chill out”, “loosen up”, “have a drink” – is very persuasive and surprisingly pervasive. It’s easy to worry that if you don’t fit in, you might be ostracised. Everyone hates the thought of being labelled a party pooper.
I think it’s changing though. People are more accepting if you’re not drinking alcohol. Fewer people ask why. We all have friends on health regimes, going through treatments or just being the designated driver.
Never has there been a better time to be alcohol-free, with alternative drinks aplenty. There are so many fruity, sparkly cocktails and interesting sodas and aperitifs. I don’t want to get all holier than thou about it, but the statistics on older women drinking way more than the recommended daily allowance are somewhat alarming.
We’re quick to point the finger at wild youth when thinking about alcohol abuse. Student flat parties, rock concerts and all those New Year’s Eve arrests have young people targeted simply because they’re in the public eye. What’s not so visible is the huge numbers of older people drinking problematically, including women drinking at home.
People assume I drink a lot. With the surname Seagar you might think I was heiress to the family gin company and would be encouraging folk to drink up, because I get a dollar for every bottle sold. I’m a party gal from way back, a happy, quick to laugh and enjoy life kind of person, but funnily enough not much of a drinker except on holiday. Yes, I adore a chilled chardonnay or an Aperol spritz at the right place, at the right time. If I kept a drink diary
I’m sure the medics would brand me a binge drinker, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
We know that drinking can be damaging. It increases your risk of some cancers. It can affect your immune system. And as you get older, alcohol stays in your liver longer, increasing the risk of damage. (This explains the diminishing capacity I have for alcohol, compared with the 20s and 30s version of Jo, and is the reason for the two-day hangover.)
What can you do if you’re worried your drinking is getting a bit out of control? For most people it’s simple – you can reset your whole system by having an alcohol-free period. Anyone who’s managed Dry July or a month or two off drinking will tell you they feel and look a whole lot better. The really good news is that the human body is quite remarkable at self-repair, in particular the liver, where damage can often be reversed after several months.
I’m not stopping drinking alcohol any time soon, but from now on it’s not going to be a daily thing. I’m going to drink fabulous wines and cocktails on special occasions.
It’s good to review your relationship with alcohol.
It’s like opening a packet of gorgeous chocolate biscuits – those extra special ones that are more chocolate than biscuit. You have to consciously say no and reseal the packet before you demolish them all in one big swoop. We Kiwis love our screw cap bottles but here’s the thing my friends – it’s just as easy to re-screw that cap back on the bottle too.
“What can you do if you’re worried your drinking is getting a bit out of control?”