Expanding your Mindfulness Practice to Happy Hour

Photo by Jennifer Pallian

Photo by Jennifer Pallian


The clock hits 4:30, 4:45, 5 o’clock and it’s FINALLY time for HAPPY HOUR! After a long day at work, a nice cold draft or a glass of vino can really hit the spot. You sip away to forget the day's stressors as conversation flows amongst friends and colleagues.

Yoga, meditation, and exercise aside, sometimes the stress of the day feels like it requires an alcoholic beverage. But, relationships with alcohol can be complex. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, you may have had to evaluate your relationship with drinking. And there is nothing wrong with that! The bottom line is that life is stressful, sometimes crazy stressful, and there are a million ways to cope: some healthy, some not, and some habits that fall into the gray zone.

Drinking is one of the many coping strategies that can go haywire. How easy is it to meet up with friends for happy hour and have a few too many? Even that one extra glass of wine can make waking up the next day miserable. Now, moderate drinking does have health benefits, especially in the context of a mediterranean diet, but the key is moderation. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines advocate for moderate drinking of up to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.

Here’s the key: happy hour or any other social drinking event doesn’t need to compromise your health. One way to de-stress and keep your health goals on track is to expand your practice of mindfulness to happy hour.


Set Your Intentions

Before you leave the office, take note of what you want out of happy hour. Do you want to connect? Unwind? Recharge? Take that intention with you as you walk out the door.


Settle In

When you arrive at your destination, sit and settle yourself into your environment. Breathe in the people, the lights, and the sounds that encompass you. This practice can help you relax before you order.


Listen to your body

Instead of quickly ordering your usual, pause to reflect what you need in that moment. Sip on ice water and evaluate yourself. Do you need an appetizer with that martini? Or maybe a local IPA or just a seltzer will suit you tonight.

Once your drink arrives, remember the intention you set as you left the office. As you take a sip, breathe in your intention, and breathe out the stress of your day. Sip slowly and engage your mind with the moment. Try it the next time you go out, and be present as you breathe in your friends, your life, and your favorite cocktail.

If you feel that drinking no longer coincides with your health goals, check out Hip Sobriety.