Christmas parties, celebrations with friends and family gatherings – often they lead to overindulgence in not just food, but also alcohol, despite our best efforts. And, although we often have no intention of drinking as regularly, or as much, somehow, we can just slip into it out of habit. For some people, that means having a few drinks every single day over the Christmas break, leaving them feeling fatigued, unhealthy, and bloated come January. For others, it’s suffering one or two nasty hangover that they didn’t plan on.  

But, when living with a chronic condition, protecting our energy levels and feelings of wellbeing becomes crucial. So, what works in helping to drink less over this period and what are the benefits? 

  1. More money: Christmas can be hard enough on our finances, without the added drain of expensive drinks. Deciding to drive on a night out can save you as much as €50 (or more) compared to a night when you’re drinking, plus add a taxi on top of that and you might be getting close to as much as €100! If you do decide to drink, try drinking half of what you usually do (perhaps just 1-2 drinks instead of 4, for instance) and save the money for something you’ll really enjoy, such as a nice dinner out with friends or family, or an hour-long massage.  

  1. Improved weight control: When you haven’t drunk alcohol the night before, you are likely to avoid cravings for sugar or processed, salty foods that tend to go hand in hand with a hangover. These contribute to you feeling bloated and unhealthy, plus the addition of hundreds of empty calories. In fact, over the course of the two or more weeks of celebrations, drinking regularly costs you a gain of half a stone of weight (or more!). This year, why not avoid that by cutting down on alcohol so that you hit January in a much better position compared to other years. 

  1. Less stress: For some of us, Christmas can be a stressful time (this can be due to the fatigue and pain that we are dealing with on a daily basis, as a result of living with arthritis, or it could be additional strains such as financial worries or concerns about a loved one). We sometimes drink alcohol for its sedative qualities, but the truth is that alcohol actually contributes to anxiety and actually raises the stress hormone, called cortisol and, over the long term, depletes serotonin. 

  1. Being more present: Alcohol can rob you of precious time over Christmas – time that could be spending on ourselves, our loved ones, our passions or our hobbies instead gets relegated to drinking and recovering from drinking the following day. We are never fully present when we’re drinking alcohol every day. Remember, it’s time you won’t get back, so maybe rethink how you’ll approach your time off this Christmas.  

  1. Better quality sleep: Many people believe a drink before bedtime helps them to sleep. But, while it’s true that alcohol acts like a sedative to help you nod off initially, unfortunately it’s not the right type of sleep. Alcohol often prevents you going into the deeper stages of sleep that are so essential. One study showed that even drinking alcohol six hours before bedtime has an impact on the quality of sleep.  

How much is too much? Did you know that only 2 per cent of Irish adults know the HSE low risk alcohol guidelines? To find out what those guidelines are, click here.  

For more information on alcohol and health, visit Alcohol Forum Ireland, the HSE, and  

For anyone looking to be inspired by others who gave up alcohol, even temporarily, visit This Naked Mind or One Year no Beer.