The recent 2018 legislation in the Health (Alcohol) Bill has four main provisions:
a) a structural separation of alcohol from other products in stores;
b) minimum unit pricing;
c) health warning labels on alcohol products;
d) advertising restrictions.
The bill has received support from Alcohol Action Ireland, the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society, whilst Heineken, Molson Coors, Diageo and others have submitted their concerns about the bill’s effects on tourism, investment and business.
Whilst the legislators have their part to play in policing the management of the sale, pricing, advertising and warnings about the harms of excessive alcohol, these measures only scratch the surface. Drinkaware has also recently delivered new research and a drinking index that go some way towards further educating the at risk populations as part of a landmark study:
- 44% drink alcohol on at least a weekly basis (population est. 446,000)
- 19% of Irish drinkers consumed more than six standard drinks on a single drinking occasion each week in the last year (i.e. binge drinking)
- 21% of drinkers think they should cut down on how much alcohol they drink; increases to 32% for under 25s
- 74% believe that drinking to excess is ‘just a part of Irish culture’
It’s fair to say we love our drinking. But what about the under the bonnet stuff of why the Irish drink so much? In a poll, Ireland was ranked 21st in a poll of 191 countries* for the highest consumption of alcohol (*WHO Report published 2014). Our small country was up there with the best of them. Some of our northern european neighbours also love their grain-based drinks, just as the southern europeans love their grape, but few nations are as stereotyped for excessive drinking as the Irish. A 2013 study** of students abroad, found that cultural, societal and religious influences had their part to play in the nation’s drinking. Attitudes to what constitutes alcohol abuse differed greatly, those growing up in liberal, drinking environments behaved and drank liberally around booze too, others reared in more religious households tended to either abstain or consume considerably less than their more liberal counterparts. Rather surprisingly, Irish weather had little or no effect on consumption on the study outcome (**U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Irish Higher Education Authority).
On a personal level, I have examined in detail my own motivations when it comes to drinking. Like many other types of consumptions and connections, my relationship with drink as well as with food, money and the people around me tends to reflect directly how I’m feeling on the inside.
Arguably, but from personal experience and from what I have seen around me, heavy drinking often arises out of a feeling of emptiness, boredom or loneliness. Drinkers reach for the ‘nectar’ to literally fill the void or to help obliterate its existence. Alternatively, drinkers may be dogged with unconscious stressful and resentful thoughts, coupled with self-hatred, fear and sadness. Alcohol may be the only escape route from these painful and unexamined mental patterns.
Some systems and schools of thought believe alcohol abuse to be the manifestation of a physical allergy, in many instances this may be true, the blood sugar may be placing extremely high demands on the consumer to top-up or else, but this may not be the case for everyone who is running to or from the bottle or the glass. If you have identified this physical allergy in yourself, the ideas in this blog post are not for you.
For me, it’s a practice now like everything else in life has become. I reflect before a night out, occasion or an event. As a practice, it helps enormously and thankfully, I now, rarely lose time the next day on recriminations and self-flagellation.
A practice – Mind
Before a social gathering, event or party, can we stop take a different and fresh view? We decide to pause, tune in and really listen to the messages/stories that the ego mind is throwing at us. Can we wake up to them and examine them? Are they even true, if they were once true but are no longer relevant can we ditch them? If we are angry, stressed or afraid, why? Are we in the past or in the future? What is happening, right now, in this current moment? Tune in and observe, observe the thoughts rising and falling fully, then pause. It needn’t be a taxing, annoying or even onerous process, a mere kind and gentle self-reflection will suffice.
A practice – Body
Can we feel the ground under our feet? How is our physical connection to ourselves, to our very core? Is our head in the clouds or does it feel attached to the body at all? Furthermore are we merely seeking an opportunity in this gathering to find excessive comfort because we feel bad about ourselves or our lives? Perhaps we pause again. Is our belly full with good food or is food part of the occasion? Are we in comfortable clothing that instills confidence? Are our surroundings safe and loving and are our basic needs met? Can we sense our breath? Can we sense the air around us, the people, environment and nature? Do we feel good?
If we answer no to some of the above, can we address these practicalities now with food, warmth and support? Can we do what’s needed to bring us to true bodily and mental comfort rather than mindlessly reaching for the fuzzy, warm glow of alcohol first? If we need help with these matters we seek appropriate, professional advice and help.
If we can make satisfactory inroads in these matters, we can then consider approaching mindfully drinking to be sociable and add fully to the occasion from a more comfortable, healthy and even keel. Then there is no more escape into or abstaining from drink. It just is. And so are we.
Have a very happy and a healthy Christmas from all here at Yogapal
Grainne Toher – Founder Yogapal
- The increasing speed of modern technology and the general pace at which we expect each other to react now, can cause rash and emotional decisions and discussions in the workplace. At the desk or the meeting, we can practice fully attending to the exhale, gently following it all the way out of the body right to the end, where the navel draws in, this will help ensure our responses and reactions come from a more centred place of personal power.
- Commuter life and busy working environments can keep us caught up in our minds with little sense of time, our environment and the space we occupy. A continued practice of fully placing both feet on the ground, then actively seeking out the feeling of the floor being underneath, will help take us out of our heads and descend our energy downwards, thus helping us operate from a more grounded and more secure place.
- Much of our working day can be spent perched on the edge of the office chair. Our shoulders brace and grip whilst we sit, type our documents and read our email. Sometimes we take our calls, gripping the receiver between one shoulder and side of the head. Drawing closer to the desk and fully using all parts of the office chair, to cup all of the curves of our spine and to support the backs of the legs and buttocks, will pay dividends in healthy alignment, full breathing and improved back health.
- In the age of the internet and social media, life has got faster, more reactive and less intuitive. Practicing really seeking out the pause at the top of the exhale, before the inhale flows in, will help us to respond more authentically to events around us. The pause can be practiced whilst walking around.
Grainne Toher – Founder Still Mind and Yogapal
Set your intention to try one a day for a week and notice the difference
- Go outside. Get into the garden, leave your desk at lunchtime and take a walk in the park. Weather permitting remove shoes and socks and notice how the grass feels under the feet;
- Park the smartphone addiction. Try it out two for hours, put the phone on airplane mode, pop it upstairs if possible or at least in the furthest room and just sit and be;
- Make soup. Get tons of vegetables from the market, set aside all other tasks and just enjoy chopping mindfully each ingredient with care whilst doing absolutely nothing else;
- Pick up a paperback novel. Put all devices aside and sit in a room with no screens. Notice how turning the pages feels and mindfully enjoy every word;
- Eat at the table. Set all devices aside and carefully bite, chew and taste every morsel. Turn each piece of food over in the mouth and notice the textures and tastes of each one against the various tissues of the mouth. Your digestion will thank you for it;
- Meet a friend or close family member. Put your devices away, sit tight and spend the first hour listening intently to them bring you up to speed on their lives. Resist the urge to jump in at every opportunity with your story. You will feel a much closer connection to them;
- For five minutes sit comfortably with supports on the floor or against the wall. Close your eyes and start to attend fully to your exhale and allow it to gently caress your throat on the way out. Observe the pause at the very end, then notice the natural inhale fill you up.
In this current moment all is well.
Do you ever get the “Sunday Sads?” This is when you experience an extreme feeling of sadness on Sunday when you realise that you’ll be going back to work on Monday. This feeling of unhappiness often leads professionals to start searching for another job. According to the 2017 Mind the Workplace report by Mental Health America, 71% of workers in the U.S. were either actively looking for new job opportunities or had the topic on their mind always, often, or sometimes while at work.
How are you handling any thoughts or feelings of unhappiness? Do you even know the real reason behind your lack of satisfaction? Unfortunately, most people vent regularly to their family, friends, and co-workers, but don’t ever achieve happiness or the true career success they’re looking for. If you are searching externally for another job to make you happy, you might land a new position and still experience feelings of dissatisfaction. Here are the top five reasons why most people aren’t happy at work.
1. They are disengaged
Engaged employees are those who are involved in their work and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Employees who are not engaged may be passively going through the motions without energy or passion, and are unsatisfied with their work or workplace. Actively disengaged employees take things a step further by undermining and sabotaging their employers. The Gallup State of the American Workplace report found that roughly two-thirds of all employees are not engaged at work. Are you engaged on the job? If not, there’s a good chance that you aren’t happy either.
2. They are stressed out
High levels of stress have been described as an epidemic in today’s working world. Many people see it as a badge of honor to be “stressed out”, or having a high stress level means that they are successful. The reality is that being stressed out is not sustainable for your physical or mental health over the long term, and often leads to feelings of unhappiness. What are your causes of stress at work? Are they external factors, as a result of circumstances or other people? Or are you stressed by internal factors such as your performance, abilities, or attitude?
3. They have a negative/scarcity mindset
Psychological research has found that how you view situations at work and in life have an effect on the results you produce. Professor and author Raj Raghunathan discusses the mindset of happy professionals in his book If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? He outlines a scarcity-minded approach to thinking, where you believe that your “win” will come at the cost of someone else’s loss. This mindset is prevalent in today’s corporate culture, where people say you must “watch your back” because others are out to get you. In contrast, think about intentionally creating a more abundance-oriented approach in the workplace. Focus on the opportunities for growth or promotion that you have and stop comparing yourself to others.
4. They have poor relationships with managers and colleagues
A lack of connection or poor relationships with managers and colleagues can be a major source of frustration for professionals. It’s difficult to do your best work when you don’t feel supported by those you work with. How is your communication with your co-workers? Can you collaborate with them productively to achieve your goals? What can you do to deepen your connection with colleagues? Inviting someone to lunch, reaching out to a new employee, or volunteering to take on an extra project outside your department are all ways to build stronger relationships.
5. They aren’t fully using their intellect or strengths
Many professionals want to feel like they are making a positive impact at work and attaining successful results. If they are not reaching their full potential, it’s common for employees to start wondering if they are in the right career or job. Abraham Maslow, one of the founding fathers of psychology, described this desire as self-actualisation. If you aren’t fully utilising your intellect or strengths, you might feel as though you are in essence, cheating yourself. What areas would you like to grow in? Are there any special projects or activities you can take on to help your company? If you’re unhappy in this area, talking to your manager about additional ways you can be helpful is a good idea.
When people are unhappy, it’s easy to think that hopping into the job market and hunting for a new position will make you feel better. Instead, it’s a good idea to truly consider the reasons why you’re unhappy at work. Think about if you are disengaged or stressed out. Do you constantly look at situations at work with a negative or scarcity mindset? If, so changing that can help make an impact on how you feel. Developing stronger relationships with your manager and colleagues can also help increase your level of happiness.
Finally, brainstorm ways where you can fully utilise your intellect and strengths.