Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series. Today I’m chatting to Rosamund Dean, author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life.
Rosamund Dean is a journalist and author who came up through the ranks of women’s magazines, having worked for Marie Claire, Elle, Grazia and Red.
I’m excited to be chatting to Rosamund, she is the author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life, a book that combines practical advice and scientific expertise to make a healthy, moderate relationship with alcohol achievable.
Moderation didn’t work for me in my quest to manage my relationship with alcohol and I’ve now been sober 15 months, but I often get asked questions about it so I’ve talked to Rosamund for her balanced perspective! She lives in London with her husband, Sunday Times writer Jonathan Dean, and their two children.
Name: Rosamund Dean
1.Tell me a little bit of your drinking story …
As a young journalist, I spent my 20s either drunk or hungover but, since everyone around me drank as much as I did, I never felt that this was an issue. When I hit my 30s, got married and had kids, I thought I would naturally drink less but, actually, what with Sunday lunches in the pub, post-kids-in-bed wine and mums-on-the-razz gin and tonics, I was actually drinking as much, if not more, than ever.
I tried (and failed) to cut down several times and, eventually, I realised that I couldn’t do it using will power alone. I needed a strategy, and that’s why I wrote the book: Mindful Drinking. I never wanted to stop drinking entirely, because I still enjoy having the occasional wine with dinner, or a glass of fizz when out with friends, but now I never overdo it.
2. What led you to think differently about drinking?
For me, it was having kids. First of all, being sober during pregnancy made me realise how much money I had been spending on wine. And secondly, a hangover is really hard work when you have a toddler and a baby!
3. How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
I drink two or three times a week, sometimes less. I no longer drink the cheap white wine at work events, or mindlessly crack open a bottle after the kids are in bed without even thinking about it. I save my drinking occasions for a celebratory glass with friends or wine over dinner with my husband.
My rule now is that I think about whether I’m going to remember each drink with joy or regret. If it’s regret, I skip it. If it’s joy, I go for it!.
4. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
The biggest challenge with moderate drinking is learning how to stop after one or two drinks, which is the point at which your self-control and decision-making skills generally go out the window.
5.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
I’ve learnt that the old cliché is true: you really don’t need alcohol to have a good time.
If you’re not having fun in any given situation, it is absolutely not the lack of alcohol to blame. Drinking less allows you to make better decisions about how you spend your time, with the bonus of zero hangover.
6. What benefits of cutting down on alcohol or stopping drinking have you experienced?
Oh my goodness, how long have you got? Better skin, increased energy, sharpened concentration, fewer regrets, improved memory, extra disposable income, less anxiety, improved moods, deeper sleep, greater productivity at work, improved digestion and – of course – weight loss.
7. Are there any resources that have helped you to cut down or stop drinking?
Yes, loads! Club Soda is brilliant, and Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind helped me a lot (L’s note: I interviewed Annie Grace here), even though my goal was to cut down rather than quit altogether. I also learnt a lot from Rohan Gunatillake and Gretchen Rubin, who I interviewed for my book.
8. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I used to be incredibly productive work-wise early in the morning but, since having two kids, my mornings have been taken over with changing nappies, wrestling wriggly bodies into clothes and cleaning Weetabix off the floor. I wouldn’t have it any other way of course!
9. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
I wish I could say I regularly set aside time to meditate or something but, actually, I work full time, have two kids and a busy social life, so I don’t really make time for any rituals.
But I have learnt how to incorporate mindfulness into every aspect of my life, so I can find a bit of calm while sitting on the Tube or waiting in a queue or walking to the office.
10. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Hang out with my husband and kids, which is always nicer when hangover free!
11. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
The old work/life balance. I’m trying to make sure I take proper lunch breaks, and switch off from work when I’m at home. Now that we’re all so connected 24/7 it’s so easy to get sucked into working all the time.
12. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
I love listening to podcasts, and my favourites at the moment are:
14.Any go-to people we should follow for inspiration? (Health, Fitness, Life, Travel you name it!)
15. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?