In the 1970s, American doctors used the term “holiday heart syndrome” to describe the phenomenon seen in hospitals during the New Year holidays. It has become the term used to describe an otherwise healthy patient who shows up in the emergency room in January with alcohol-induced atrial fibrillation (an irregular or too fast heartbeat).
Of course, most of us won’t end up at A&E this week, but “Holiday Heart Syndrome” shows just how much of a booze-filled blur there is in late December. From those first office parties to New Year’s Eve, Drinkaware research found that nearly two-thirds of adults drank more than usual during this time, and nearly one-third felt extra pressure to do so. No wonder it turns out there is.
“Psychologically, we’ve been conditioned as a society, especially in the UK, to associate alcohol with everything from celebration to stress relief to socializing,” says Rosamund Dean.
However, rather than helping you relax, excessive alcohol can leave you feeling exhausted, lethargic, and anxious, increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers (including breast cancer and liver), and weaken your immune system. So what if you want to drink a little less in 2023?
Take 2 days off a week and buy a half bottle
According to counselor and alcohol coach Julie Ward, how much you want to drink depends on your starting point. Ward suggests that any new client have at least two days a week where he abstains from alcohol, and also suggests adding ice to his wine on drinking days. “This dilutes the strength but still gives it flavor,” she says. “Or add a mixer, such as soda, to make it a spritzer.”
At home, Ward recommends buying wine by the half bottle. The now 50-year-old has significantly reduced her alcohol intake 16 years prior to her colon cancer diagnosis. “I’ve always liked to down the bottle, so I wish I had a half bottle,” she says. Drinkaware also recommends reducing the size of your glass (especially when you’re at home).
follow the 20 minute rule
Julie Ward’s “20 Minute Rule” – when you finish one drink, take a 20 minute break before buying or pouring the next one – is another small tweak that makes a big difference. “When you already have a couple and you’re dazed, waiting 20 minutes slows down the whole process and often the desire to eat more disappears or softens,” she says. You may feel it and call it night.”
drink only during celebrations
Rosamund Dean said, “Now I only drink socially, never alone.” No, I don’t drink to deal with stress or negative emotions, I only drink to celebrate, but celebrations and stress can overlap during the holidays But keep in mind that drinking will never make a difficult situation better.