Quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us turn to the wine o’clock habit to relieve our stress and satisfy our boredom. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying wine o’clock. But it can turn into an everyday habit in no time. When that happens, it can be time for a reset to get back on track so wine returns to being a treat rather than an escape.
Why We Love Wine O'Clock
My wine o’clock habit started when I had kids. I stayed at home when my kids were little, and a delicious glass of vino at the end of the day was a reward for my hard work. It was something I shared with my husband to unwind, and with other moms in my book club and at Bunco. Wine was a part of celebrating the end of a Little League season and family nights at the swim club. It felt natural and necessary to socialize and relax.
Now that I have returned to work and my kids are grown, happy hours have become a way to bond with my coworkers and deal with the stress of the job. It’s still a way to unwind with my husband and was featured prominently in neighborhood get-togethers, pre-COVID-19. Does this sound familiar? For many of us, it’s pretty routine. But should we take time to evaluate whether this wine o’clock habit keeps us from greater health, happiness and productivity?
Is it Time to Break the Wine O'Clock Habit?
I’m not going to tell you that I’ve done the 30-day reset or the One Year No Beer challenge. But like many of you, I’ve not been willing to let go of this thing that seems so central to my social interactions. But what if we did, if only for a time to evaluate our relationship with this witching hour? Here are all the things we could do if we put down that glass of Chardonnay.
6 Reasons to Break the Wine O'Clock Habit
1. Sleep Better
When I don’t drink wine, I sleep like an absolute baby! Deep, relaxed and refreshed when my alarm sends me my 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. Although I fall asleep faster when I drink wine before bed, I also wake up around 3:00 a.m. feeling more tired. That’s because alcohol interferes with your REM sleep, the kind that restores your body.
2. Work Out More
I don’t know how many times I have skipped the gym to make room for happy hour with the girls. When I go to the gym, I feel amazing, much more relaxed than when I drink wine! Working out makes us happier and more energetic. But that happy hour tug at the end of a long day is so hard to resist! Especially now that we’re in quarantine! So, if we didn’t drink wine, we definitely would be in better shape!
3. Lose Weight
Speaking of being in better shape, have you seen how many calories are in a glass of Chardonnay? A six-ounce glass has 120 calories! Multiply that by two or three and you have 240 to 360 extra calories in a day! That’s about as much as a large scoop of chocolate ice cream! With 3,500 calories equating to one pound, we could lose a pound or two per week if we stop drinking those two glasses per day.
4. More Energy
When we sleep better, work out more and lose weight, we have more energy! And we don’t suffer from that sugar crash and dehydration that happens after drinking wine, which also improves our energy. Drinking alcohol causes our insulin to increase, leading to low blood sugar, which makes us feel lightheaded and tired. Alcohol also is a diuretic, which means it causes our body to remove fluids from our blood faster than other liquids. This can lead to low energy and reduced brain function, among other things.
5. Less Anxiety
Menopause can increase our anxiety, and wine only adds to it. When I drink wine, my hot flashes proliferate, my heart races and I feel more anxious. Alcohol also causes the stress hormone epinephrine to increase several hours after we consume it. This increases our heart rate which can wake us up at night. It can also aggravate hot flashes.
6. Get Richer
Drinking wine gets expensive! A bottle of wine can cost $10-$20, depending on your level of wine snobbery. Two bottles per week at $20 per bottle, along with a happy hour each week for about $15, add up to over $200 per month! You could buy a pretty nice outfit for that.
Now that we know why we should re-evaluate the wine o’clock habit, the next question is how? It is increasingly difficult to let go of the wine o’clock routine, as it seems like the only reasonable thing to do in quarantine, right? The problem is we don’t know how long quarantine will last, and we can’t go on like this indefinitely. So, no time like the present!
6 Strategies to Break the Wine O'Clock Habit
1. Track Your Drinking
For the first week, it helps to keep track of how much wine you’re actually drinking. We may not want to know, but just like keeping a food diary, it’s the first step toward accountability.
2. Decide How Much is Too Much
You might decide that a total of five glasses a week only on the weekends is right for you. Or you may decide that one every other day works best. Or you may even decide that you want to stop completely. Whatever you decide, set a goal and stick to it.
3. Avoid Triggers
Okay, here is the hard part. For many of us (myself included), closing our laptops at the end of the day is a trigger. So rather than moseying over to the fridge for your wine o’clock glass of Chardonnay, do something else. Take a walk or go for a run. If watching television is your trigger, then read a book with a cup of tea in the bath. If virtual happy hour is your trigger, then try virtual brunch instead. If all else fails, go to bed early!
4. Try the Buddy System
Misery loves company, right? It’s so much easier when we have a friend who’s going through the same challenges. When you want to reach for that glass of Pinot Noir (in fairness to red wine drinkers), do a Zoom call with your sober pal instead.
5. Keep a Diary
Record all the benefits you experience as a result of breaking your everyday habit. Are you sleeping better? Are you more energetic? Write it down so you can remember when wine o’clock rolls around.
6. Get a Sober App.
There are a variety of apps out there to help people reduce their alcohol consumption or quit drinking entirely. Some are community-based, others use psychological rewards strategies like tracking your savings from not drinking. Similar to weight-loss apps they can make your habit-breaking journey fun!
Maybe for you, a global pandemic is the worst possible time to break your wine o’clock habit. But if it is something you want to do, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going!
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