TW: Alcohol consumption / binge drinking
I have always been an all-or-nothing sort of person. While at times this can be advantageous to certain pursuits in life, it can also manifest into some undeniably self-destructive behaviour…
Finding the balance between health and hedonism can be difficult, especially in a party-centric environment like university, where no matter what the time of day, drinking is acceptable, if not encouraged.
To make things even more difficult, knowing when to stop isn’t my strong point and my willpower has sometimes shattered under pressure. After a few too many drinks something changes in my personality and I become extremely confident, flirty and fearless. This alter ego came to be well known by my friends as Léna. Indeed, Léna has gotten herself into her fair share of reckless, embarrassing, and dangerous situations that still haunt me to this day. But she is the girl that my friends want and expect to see at social events – the wild, carefree party animal that is up for anything and rarely says no.
It’s easy to reassure myself that this image of uninhabited, carefree behaviour is what the epitome of my youth and university days should look like. However, I have come to realise that in drinking far too much and allowing Léna to come out of her cage, it was actually an undeniable act of self-harm and destruction. A night of supposed fun would lead to a week filled with anxiety, all because of that extra unnecessary shot that led me to take things a step too far.
Our society is guilty of glamorising alcohol consumption and normalising binge drinking culture. We have been conditioned to rely on the anesthetising effects of alcohol in order to cope with difficult or uncomfortable situations. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the well-known concept of Dutch courage as “strength or confidence gained from drinking alcohol”. Commercialised aprons and pillows commonly feature sayings such as ‘gin: Mummy’s little helper’ or ‘alcohol is the solution’, and often TV advertisements for liquor associate sex appeal with alcohol, featuring beautiful women alongside the drink. Indeed, we all know alcohol can be a social lubricant that generates connections with ease, but actually how many of these connections are real if created in this numbed alcohol induced state?
Although I would struggle to embrace full sobriety due to my love affair with red wine, completing dry January facilitated me to drink more mindfully and proved that semi-sober drinking is indeed feasible. No one should ever feel guilty about having the odd binge drink, especially when it’s just harmless fun; this is simply my own individual sober curious experience.
While I still like to enjoy a few drinks at celebratory events or on a Saturday night with friends and loved ones, Léna definitely won’t be making a reappearance again any time soon (much to her disappointment). Instead, I’ve fallen in love with the feeling of waking up hangover free, filled with the motivation to have a productive day, minus the beer fear. Finding the middle ground between abstinence and excess has changed my lifestyle and mental health for the better and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Healthy Helena’s Low/No Alcohol Hotlist:
- Maria and Craigs CBD Botanical Spirit – Maria & Craig’s is a distilled non-alcoholic CBD botanical spirit. The company use premium broad-spectrum CBD from Colorado, with natural hemp, distilled juniper, sage, camomile and orange blossom, alongside other classic gin botanicals. I love a shot of this poured over ice, mixed with tonic and garnished with fresh orange peel – totally refreshing!
- Seedlip Grove 42 – With tasting notes of blood orange, mandarin, lemongrass and ginger, this non-alcoholic spirit pairs well with lashings of ginger beer and lime. I also love the sustainable ethos of the brand with carbon neutral delivery and reduced packaging.
- Caleño Light and Zesty – I am obsessed with this lively no alcohol blend of Inca berry, pineapple, papaya, coriander, juniper berry, green cardamom & lemon peel. It’s also vegan and gluten free!
- CleanCo Gin – Spencer Matthews has created a range of lower strength alcoholic spirits, perfect for enjoying yourself minus the hangover.
- Meda CBD infused Calm drink – Low in sugar and calories, each drink contains 15mg of liposomal organic CBD. A tasty alternative to alcohol, it also provides heaps of health benefits too and aids anxiety.
– Helena Holdsworth
Featured Image Source: Pexels