Getting past “I’m not drinking”

Why friends react badly, and how to get through it

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But you’re so fun drunk!”

“I could never go out sober”

“How do you even stand drunk people when you’re out?”

“Isn’t it boring?”

“But how can you not drink when everyone else does?”


Do any of these sound familiar?

They’re straight from the textbook of social circle reactions to the news that you’re cutting down or taking a break from drinking. These remarks can make you question your decision and start to self-doubt, “actually, why did I stop drinking?” Or they make you feel isolated, as if no one understands your situation.

But let’s discuss an alternative narrative. As you become more familiar with your decision and you start to feel yourself gaining more control, you will no longer really need their understanding. It’s like waking up from The Matrix.

Why it’s so hard for people to accept socialising alcohol-free

The first obvious reason that hangs over our head like a cloud is our socio-cultural pressure. Taking a fairly brief look into the history of drinking in Australia, author of The Rum State, Milton Lewis says heavy drinking was an established cultural norm transported to Australia at the time of colonisation. The Rum State points out two drinking practices that were established then and still exist presently. One is ‘shouting’, in which each person in turn buys a round of drinks for the whole group. The other is a bit of a ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality where we award ourselves with an overindulgence of alcohol for getting through a hard week of work.

‘Shouting’ and ‘rounds’ come with many implications. First, it doesn’t give people much choice in the matter; in how they want to drink, how fast they want to drink and how much they want to drink. It also makes it harder to refuse a drink when you’ve reached your limit, and your limit may differ to the others involved. Once everyone has finished their drink, another person from the group will buy a round and so on. But what if there are 10 people in a group and you have gone out to only have a couple of beers with friends?

It’s not just Australia that adopted ‘shouting’, according to the Social Issues Research Center’s document on social and cultural aspects of drinking, almost all drinking places, in almost all cultures, have unwritten laws and customs around some form of reciprocal drink-buying or sharing of drinks:

“This practice has been documented in drinking-places from modern, urban Japan and America and rural Spain and France to remote traditional societies in Africa and South America.”

A cursory search for ‘the etiquette of a round’ yields some interesting insights:

Immediacy — Never accept a beer if you do not intend to shout on that evening. Shouting “next time” is not acceptable no matter how much interest is involved.

Egalitarian — No matter how much money is earned by each of the party members, or where their money came from, the same shouting rules apply.

Abstaining — From time to time an individual may wish to stop getting drunk. Ideally, they should wait till the completion of every group member’s rounds before abstaining from future rounds. If it is essential that they abstain mid-round, they should request a non-alcoholic beverage. This ensures that the first volunteer is not punished for putting their hand up first. It ensures group equality and it also ensures that the person buying the next round does not feel like a bludger by being remiss in their obligations.

From: The evolution from drunkards to alcohol connoisseurs

Australia’s ‘work hard, play hard’ psychology may be due to “a self-perpetuating cycle as work causes stress, which renders people more prone to addictions to substances and work,” believes Dr. Richard Wise, psychologist at Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery.

“As stress increases the activity of brain regions responsible for drug seeking and craving, stressful work is often ‘addictive’ in itself.”

In fact, Roy Morgan Research found heavy drinkers in Australia were more likely to be males aged 18 to 35, single, earning a good income from working hard and long hours and over-represented among tradesmen. It is known that those enduring active alcohol dependence often seek out environments that facilitate and camouflage their drinking, like bars, pubs, RSLs and Friday night knock-off drinks at the workplace.

The Social Issues Research Center identifies a ‘drinking place’ as a facilitator of social bonding.

This function is so clearly evident that even in ambivalent drinking cultures, where research tends to be problem-centred and overwhelmingly concerned with quantitative aspects of consumption, those conducting research on public drinking places have been obliged to “focus on sociability, rather than the serving of beverage alcohol, as the main social fact to be examined.” (Campbell, 1991)

For many, socialising is one of the main functions of drinking. The Research Center points out that “the perception of the value of alcohol for promoting relaxation and sociability is one of the most significant generalisations to emerge from the cross-cultural study of drinking.” (Heath, 1987, 1995)

This is why it’s no real surprise that negative reactions and a lack of support from your social group can be the hardest thing to overcome, as people often feel as if your going without a drink is a judgment of them and the way they choose to drink and socialise. And, hell, in some situations this may just be the case. It’s important to be a realist about your situation and recognise that friends may be lost when you open up about your decision to change the way you drink. Understanding that they don’t have your best interests at heart if they’re not empathetic or supportive is not easy, but it is a vital process of moving forward in your progress.

Dealing with negative reactions from your social groups, family, colleagues or everyday interactions can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. And while the decision to drink less does not define you, for most of us, our social interactions do on some level stand to shape our identities.

Just because you have changed the way you’ve been drinking doesn’t mean you can no longer have a social life. The association between drinking and socialising remains pretty persistent, but remember that you’re cutting out alcohol, not friends. Wine, not dinner. Beer, not footy.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of resenting your decision to improve your relationship with alcohol because you no longer enjoy your time out with friends.

Strategies to help cope with an unsupportive friendship group

Methods from cognitive-behavioural therapy, a highly regarded clinical technique as used in the Daybreak app, can help you deal with a friendship group that may not be as supportive as you need. One example is the recognise-avoid-cope approach, where the first point is to recognise two different types of social pressure to drink — direct and indirect. ‘Direct social pressure’ is when someone offers you a drink or an opportunity to drink. ‘Indirect social pressure’ is when you feel tempted to drink just by being around others who are drinking, even if no one offers you a drink.

The second point in the module suggests to avoid any pressure to drink when possible. Moderation is key, but for some just having a few is not an option — and that’s okay. Certain social situations may need to be avoided altogether if you know that the people there will make it difficult for you to reach your goal in changing your relationship with alcohol. If you feel that you’re strong enough to resist these types of social pressures, you can gradually ease yourself back into these situations.

The third gives some advice on how to cope with those situations that you simply cannot avoid by knowing your ‘no’.

“When you know alcohol will be served, it’s important to have some resistance strategies lined up in advance. If you expect to be offered a drink, you’ll need to be ready to deliver a convincing ‘no, thanks’. Your goal is to be clear and firm, yet friendly and respectful. Avoid long explanations and vague excuses, as they tend to prolong the discussion and provide more of an opportunity to give in.”


Hello Sunday Morning’s ambassador Talitha Cummins recently shared her relationship with alcohol, along with her simple guide on how to make socialising sober easier on you. She emphasises why you should do it for yourself and no one else:

  1. Don’t put yourself in the situation — changing gamblers don’t hang out in casinos.
  2. Arrive early, leave early. By 10 o’clock people are usually talking Spanglish — this is your cue to leave.
  3. Explain to friends what you’re trying to achieve before a social engagement.
  4. But most of all, recognise this is something you’re doing for yourself and you don’t need to answer to anyone.

At the end of the day, we need to recognise that the complex issues around social drinking are due to factors like our ingrained cultural expectation, other people’s expectations of socialising and our own self doubts. It will take a lot of campaigning, a lot of educating, enabling and understanding for people to start to accept that drinking doesn’t have to be part of your identity as a social individual, or your identity as part of a community. This is your road to follow, and if that road leads away from the idea of the traditions of social drinking and starts to lead elsewhere, we will support you to follow it.

Originally published on Hello Sunday Morning’s medium platform. 

Dry January is nearly over — here’s what to do next

6 ways an alcohol-free month can kick off your best year

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With a whole month of the new year already coming to an end, people are still likely to be keeping their resolutions and sticking to goals. But while Dry January could be the month that spikes motivation to a whole new high, the real trick is avoiding a February plummet.

We’ve all heard of the challenges like Dry January, Dry July and Ocsober, where one abstains from drinking alcohol for the entire month — often to raise money for charity. While these challenges often give back to people and communities in need, more importantly they help people consider their relationship with alcohol if they haven’t before, and to better understand whether or not that relationship is healthy.

Dry January is often taken on in an attempt to redeem oneself from an overindulgence during the festive season, which, let’s face it many of us are guilty of.

But this is exactly where the problem lies … Why do we feel the need to drink to excess during a celebration? And isn’t it telling us something deeper about our drinking culture when going just one month without drinking alcohol is such a real challenge that people will financially sponsor us to do so? There’s bound to be those who toast to their success by finishing a bottle of wine or two.

The real challenge lies in acknowledging and carrying through the lessons learnt during Dry January and adapting a healthy relationship with alcohol henceforth.

Many partakers realise they need to cut back on their alcohol intake and want to continue a moderate drinking behaviour they self identify with, thus reducing the extreme drinking behaviour that caused the month off in the first place.

Lessons learnt and benefits gained

Experiences from abstaining for the month vary for different people depending on factors including how regularly and how much they drink. Nonetheless, everyone will gain something out of doing one of these challenges, whether that be on a physical, mental or deeper self awareness level. Recent research on people drinking an average of 35 units a week has shown that going dry for just one month decreases liver stiffness (a sign of liver damage) by 10–15 per cent and leads to significant reductions in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance. And this is only the tip of the iceberg: other benefits include improved sleep qualityavoiding dependence, enhancing relationships with your loved ones and work colleagues, boosting your productivity and saving money. If one can benefit from these improvements for just one month, imagine a lifestyle where you consistently understand and negotiate your relationship with alcohol.


Sarah, A Hello Sunday Morning member, recorded a similar challenge and took the month of June off drinking to give her body, spirit and bank account a break. She posted her experience on Hello Sunday Morning’s community platform.

“A while ago I would have said it would be impossible for me to go more than a few weeks without drinking. But I made it through the month and it turns out it wasn’t as big of a deal as I had thought.”

Here are the lessons she learnt:

  1. I got to the core of my drinking and realised that I was using it to self-medicate. So I prioritised my mental health and found that seeing a doctor gave me some perspective on what the real issues were.
  2. A month seems long, but it isn’t forever. If you have tried to give up alcohol in the past, you may have cut it out completely and told yourself that’s final. But giving yourself an achievable time frame to change your habit and learn about your relationship with alcohol can be better in the long run.
  3. It was my main focus and I wasn’t backing down. Any other goal like working out more came second and I could let that slip and still be proud that I achieved my one thing for the day … not drinking.
  4. It’s not easy. I missed drinking as a reward, I didn’t instantly have a supermodel figure, I wasn’t always feeling on top of the world and my life.
  5. BUT … My sleep improved, I am proud of myself, I’ve lost weight and with that I’ve gained a newfound confidence. I also used my money for more important things like paying off debt.
  6. The BEST part of all? I have changed my relationship with alcohol. I know now that I can go for long periods without a drink, I can abstain or I can just have a few. I have the power to CHOOSE. Don’t worry about making the whole month, just focus on making it through tomorrow.

Talking sustainability

There is an ongoing debate about the long-term effectiveness of these challenges. A number of limitations from a public health perspective include a lack of long term support for the behaviour change process, and confusing people with an “all or nothing” message about alcohol.

The option of buying a “golden ticket,” for example, allows the purchaser to take a night off from the challenge and is considered by critics to encourage binge drinking. In terms of cultural change, seeing a brief period of abstinence as an inherently monstrous task probably serves to reinforce the importance of alcohol in our lives and proves ultimately ineffective, if not destructive.

So, does a dry January lead to a monsoon February? Taking a Dry January could actually trigger the same sort of negative boomerang effect as do restrictive diets, like abstaining and then binging to make up for it, says Dr. James Ferguson, a liver specialist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birminghamin England. If people return to their pre-dry January drinking levels in February, health benefits are lost.

No one said sticking it out would be easy

In Mark Tuschel’s book, Okay, I Quit. Now What?, the author identifies that while quitting destructive drinking may initially be easy, life after can be tricky to navigate. The future may look bright when you’re feeling on top of your game, but like anything that is worth doing, it’s not an easy road.

“Quitting destructive drinking is the easy part — staying quit is the hard part. What do you do tonight, tomorrow, next weekend, when you go on vacation, for the rest of your life?”

The book lists some realities you may inevitably have to face when you decide to cut back on drinking short or long term:

  • Temptation, self-doubt and self-pity
  • Anger, guilt, frustration and sadness
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation, like you’re the odd person in a group or party
  • The dissolution of friendships and relationships
  • Excess time on your hands and unspent money in your pocket
  • Feelings of superiority, boredom, a lack of enthusiasm

But if you really ask yourself, honestly, whether the realities outweigh the advantages to your lifestyle in the long run, I’m sure many would still want to change the way they drink. Tuschel asks readers to take out a pen and paper and scribble down the realities they think they will personally face by carrying through a changing relationship with alcohol:

  • What realities listed here must I personally face?
  • What other realities do I have that weren’t listed here?
  • How can I make the best of these realities?
  • What realities am I avoiding?
  • What can I do to better understand my realities?
  • What actions will I take to deal with my realities?
  • What behaviours can I get better at so I can accept and control my realities?
 
So, you’ve conquered a dry month? Here are some tips to help you carry those lessons forward.

So as Dry January comes to a close, you could return to old habits with ease. Or you could ask yourself whether it was worth the month of temptation, the month of complete abstinence, the month of learning some important things about your drinking and yourself, to just let this chance to change slip away. Are you going to make 2017 the year you changed your relationship with alcohol, and take back your Sundays?

Originally posted on Hello Sunday Morning’s Medium page. 

Hello Sunday Morning’s relationship with alcohol

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We often get asked whether we are against drinking at Hello Sunday Morning, as some people assume we are anti-alcohol.

So just to clear the air … we’re not.  

Hello Sunday Morning helps people think about their own relationship with alcohol and whether the way they drink enhances their lifestyle, or maybe holds them back.

If people are not happy with that relationship, we offer support to those who want to change. That change may be cutting back to a moderate level of drinking or quitting drinking completely. Our vision is to change Australia’s drinking culture through social campaigning as well as supporting individuals on their journey to change their own relationship with alcohol through our online community platform and through our latest app, Daybreak.

We all have different relationships with drinking and we all drink for different reasons. But most importantly, we are all human. And that means we’re not perfect. Working at Hello Sunday Morning doesn’t mean we all have a perfect relationship with alcohol. If we did, we wouldn’t be able to relate to you guys and we probably wouldn’t be here doing the work we do.

So, I spoke with some of the team about their diverse relationships with alcohol …

 

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Chris Raine, Founder and CEO

“People assume that I don’t drink at all. Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to support people change their own relationship with alcohol, without being prescriptive of how a person should drink. Our mission isn’t to get people to quit alcohol – it is simply to help people get to wherever they want their relationship with alcohol to be. Everyone has their own relationship with alcohol. For some people, it is better that there isn’t one at all. We respect that. For others, it is, and should always be, a continual work in progress.

“I do sometimes drink. Is my relationship with alcohol perfect? 90% of the time I’m really happy with my relationship with alcohol. 10% of the time, I know that it could be better. For me, it isn’t really about how much I drink but about why I am drinking. When I get stressed or feel lonely, I know I want to drink more. This is what I love about working at Hello Sunday Morning, we have so many great people in our team that I can learn from in how to change the way I approach this stress or loneliness so that I can get that 10% lower and lower with every experiment.”

 

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Jamie Moore, General Manager

“As the GM of Hello Sunday Morning, one of the guiltiest moments is when you wake up with a hangover. It makes you feel like a fraud. But I’ve realised over the years that I only feel that way if I drank for the wrong reasons. Was I tired, stressed, anxious? If I drank for one of these reasons the guilt would build. But if I drank for another reason, spending time with an old mate, trying out some new beers, an event I was really looking forward to … the guilt wasn’t there. It made me realise there’s nothing wrong with drinking, what’s important is making sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It’s making sure that drinking was a conscious decision, not an unconscious reaction.”

 

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Ron Sandoval, Product Developer

When asking Ron what his relationship with alcohol is like, he replies,

“Great, I have a beer right now.”

I check his desk and it turns out he really does have an open Coopers.

“And it’s Monday, so there is no problem …”

 

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Lauren Waddell, Executive Assistant

“My relationship with alcohol is very boring. I enjoy a drink at dinner maybe once a fortnight, whether that’s a spiced rum or a margarita, my limit would be two max. I don’t think I’ve had more than two drinks for over four years.

“When I was 19 or 20 I’d go out every few weeks and have a max of five drinks over the night, but I’d always get alcohol poisoning and severe hangovers regardless. I would have two UDL’s at pre-drinks and I was good for the night.

“To be honest, I only like the taste of spiced rum. So at functions and weddings where they only have wine, beer, and champagne, they don’t offer what I enjoy drinking so I’ll just drink water.”

 

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Grace Enright Burns, Marketing Officer

“Alcohol and I were pretty tight. We had a passionate love/hate relationship. A toxic one that consisted of a cycle that went something like this: me waking up wanting to spew on myself, shutting out the world around me and wishing the day would just end so I could wake up the next morning and be my usual, bubbly self, and then going out the next weekend, downing a few bottles of whatever cost under $7.50 and doing it all over again.

“I just kind of got over it. I loved getting up for an early surf in the morning, hanging with my family and friends, practicing yoga, being silly and feeling good, so I didn’t want to miss out on that.

“The process of cutting back on my drinking didn’t just happen overnight. I came up with a rule with my dad who also often gets carried away on the booze. It’s called the ‘two or four rule’. I aim to have two drinks if I’m just having a quiet night or a dinner with friends, and four drinks when I’m going out for a late one, at a festival, a party or a celebration. So far I’ve been great sticking to it, but I am a sucker for a nice cocktail and the way alcohol makes me feel tingly, so I can over do it sometimes. Alcohol and I are now pretty good friends, not best friends but a friend who you’ll hang out with now and again and it will be a nice time for both of you. And if it’s not, you might not message them for a while until you happen to bump into them again.”

 

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Ashley Boyd, Brand Designer  

“I was never a big drinker, but obviously when you turn 18 it’s all exciting and new and I would still drink at lots of parties but never enough to black out. I just didn’t like feeling like shit, but I had a few hungover days and when I went through breakups and hard times I would definitely drink more.

“Since working for Hello Sunday Morning and discovering the reasons why I drink, I started to think to myself, ‘What am I doing tomorrow? Do I really want to be hungover?’ Usually, the answer is no. I’ll definitely have a drink with the girls after work but I’m never really drinking multiple drinks in one session. I’m quite happy with that.”

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Zane Pocock, Head of Marketing

Reminiscing on his uni days, Zane sits back and mentions that he used to lead from the front, even winning the occasional competition.

“I now don’t drink. When I first moved to Sydney with my wife, we needed to save money. We decided one of the easiest ways to cut back on how much we spent was by stopping drinking for a bit while we got settled. But we ended up realising that it was a really positive experience and now it’s a couple of years later and I haven’t had a drink again.

“It’s strange because it becomes some sort of identity thing. I definitely identify at the moment as a ‘non-drinker’. My relationship with alcohol previously was pretty full on, but I didn’t feel like I had to change it, I just decided that I get zero value from it and don’t want it in my life anymore.”

10 Eggcellent reasons why chocolate is better than booze

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Easter is hopping around the corner and we’re eggcited for the one day of the year when it is absolutely excusable to stuff your mouth full of chocolate when you first wake up.

What is the connection between chocolate and Easter, anyway?

Delicious god of the cocoa kind, Cadbury, says Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are, to some extent, adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites. Mr. Cadbury says the egg is a symbol of ‘fertility’, ‘rebirth’ and ‘the beginning’. With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adopted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. The first chocolate Easter eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century.

Why you should choose chocolate over booze this Easter

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1. It’s good for you

Experts have found that quality dark chocolate with a high mass of cocoa (around 70% or more) is good for the heart, circulation and the brain.

2. Chocolate can be your partner

Who needs romance when you can indulge in rich goodness and surround yourself with delicious emotional support?

3. You won’t get a hangover

That’s right. Eat all the chocolate your heart desires and don’t worry about waking up groggy or feeling sorry for yourself.

4. It fixes things

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Especially heartbreak and PMS.

5. It’s family-friendly

Unlike alcohol, chocolate is appropriate for all occasions and kids love it. Who could blame them?

6. Chocolate doesn’t make you break out

Good quality chocolate in moderation contains flavonoids which help absorb UV light and increase blood flow to your skin, making it look healthier and more radiant.

7. Naturally improve your sex life

Chocolate is an aphrodisiac that contains L-arginine, an amino acid that can be an effective natural sex enhancer. Oh, la la!

8. Boost your energy levels

The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate mean it works as a natural pick-me-up.

 9. You can eat it so many different ways

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You can eat chocolate frozen in ice cream form, melted, at breakfast in chocolate chip pancakes, as a spread like Nutella, as a dessert, a pick-me-up, a sugar hit or just a little midnight snack. The list really goes on and on.

10. Chocolate helps you relax

Even the smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.

Let us know what you like to do over the Easter break in the comments!

How to create your list

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We’ve all heard of a bucket list (the things you want to do before you kick the bucket), but why should we wait to see the pearly gates on the horizon before we do the things we have always wanted?

What is stopping you from living life right now?

Recently we caught up with Seb Terry, who travels the world helping people tick off their 100 Things list. He is the ultimate guru when it comes to creating your list and choosing to live a more fulfilling life.

Even if people do have a bucket list, not many things on it get ticked off, as day-to-day life tends to get in the way. These reasons and excuses may sound familiar:

Money – “But I don’t have enough; I can’t afford it!”

Failure – “I won’t be able to do it; what if I don’t win?”

Commitments – “I am too busy at work; I already do too much; I have kids and a dog and a partner!” 

Opinions – “What would people think?”

Comfort – “I have control over my life at the moment, if I change anything everything will fall out of place.”

Success – “What if I really love it? What if I’m good at it and don’t want to go back to my old job?” 

Fear – “I don’t know if I am ready/brave enough.” 

Give yourself permission

Sebastian Terry says we choose to do something or to not do something and in the middle sits one word; permission. 

The first step in deciding to write or start ticking off the things on your list is to give yourself permission. You’re the only one with the power to allow yourself to think about what you really want to achieve in your life.

Choose 

When we’re young we know what we want; we would be able to sit down and write an endless list with no concerns about how to make it happen or whether it’s realistic or not. But we get older and we’re told what to do and how to think by other people. Things are laid out for us by others. By living your own truth you are choosing to empower yourself.

Grow

In order to grow, we have to step out of our comfort zone. Creating and ticking off your list allows you to shape your identity, or redefine your purpose on this earth and revisit your values that may have been shadowed or buried in a pile of work and responsibilities.

 

 

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Ask 

You will never know an answer until you ask and most of the time, you have nothing to lose by asking. Asking if someone wants to join you in your quest, asking for the time off work, asking if someone needs a house sitter in the Canadian Rockies, asking if anyone has a workshop you could rent to start your craft. Passion inspires passion. People generally want to help other people achieve their goals.

Start writing

What is something you care about so much that you don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks?

Write it down.

You just need to know why you don’t need to know how just yet, the how will come. It’s the idea of manifestation = action, know what you want, put it out there by thinking about it, talking about it and looking into it. Before you know it, that dream will start taking shape.

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Want to be a part of  Hello Sunday Morning’s Experiments Challenge? Join us by ticking something off your list, sharing on social media and tagging #hellosundaymorning  #experimentschallenge 

 

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How to make the best smoothies

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Hello, Smoothie Morning!

It’s safe to say, we are pretty obsessed with beverages here at the hello Sunday Morning headquarters. Our product manager regularly gulps down red Powerade, our general manager’s greatest hope is to never discover the health effects of Diet Coke, and our content team will not leave home without a portable smoothie of colourful goodness.

Smoothies are the new cocktails, and with everyone owning some form of blender or bullet these days, you can really shake things up.

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We have put together a few of our favourite recipes, all vegan-friendly, to do our bit for the planet. For added protein after a workout, or to keep you full for longer, try adding a spoonful of pea or prana protein.

How to make Hello Sunday Morning’s favourite smoothies

Guilt-free Salted Caramel

1x large frozen banana

Nut milk of your choice (almond, cashew, coconut)

2x dates (keep soaked in water overnight so they’re easier to blend)

Pinch of sea salt

Dash of maple syrup (for the sweet-toothed)

Cocoa nibs to serve on top

Espresso Your Feelings

1x large frozen banana

Nut milk of your choice

1x shot of espresso

1 teaspoon of coconut sugar (low GI)

Avocardio Workout

Half an avocado

Coconut water or Bickford’s ‘Cloudy Apple Juice’

Fresh pineapple

Handful of kale

I’m berry well, thank you

Large handful of frozen or fresh berries of your choice

Pinch of coconut sugar

Nut milk of your choice

Vanilla protein powder

2x tablespoons of coconut yoghurt

Smooth Operator

2x tablespoons of granola

2x soaked dates

1x large frozen banana or mango

Nut milk of your choice

Sprinkle of maca powder

Not into smoothies as much as us?

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We asked Hello Sunday Morning’s community what their favourite go-to drink was, and compiled an excellent list.

Try these non-alcoholic drinks if you’re after ideas for ordering drinks out, hosting an event, or just want to wind down one afternoon with a refreshing beverage.

  • Cranberry juice, blood orange juice, lime, soda, and fruit pieces.
  • Quarter of a glass of apple juice, fill up the rest with Indian tonic water, throw in a couple of mint leaves
  • Soda, lime, and bitters
  • Soda water, a spoon of maple syrup, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cayenne
  • Lemonade, pineapple juice and a splash of lime cordial
  • Ginger beer, ice and lots of mint leaves

How to meditate for a clear mind

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Meditation has been around for thousands of years and has proven psychological, physiological and spiritual benefits. It’s a difficult task to master, but if you can somehow introduce a regular meditative practice into your daily life, you will soon begin to notice positive changes.

Who’s not up for some positive change once in a while?

Historically, meditation was practised by saints and sages to bring about the joyful state of self-realisation; a state of consciousness where a person is free from worries and anxieties and is completely present in the moment. Meditation can lead you to become more mindful and clear-headed, gaining a greater understanding of life and purpose.

If your mood (anxious, stressed, tired) tends to be the trigger for drinking, try swapping the habit of pouring a drink with sitting down and meditating for just five minutes. Meditation resets your mind so you can move through the triggers, feelings and thoughts and get onto a more productive and healthy action like cooking dinner or getting organised for the next day.

We explore some of these techniques in our app, Daybreak, for iOS and Android.

Try this simple practice of controlled breathing from our in-house clinical psychologists to help set you up for your meditation.  Read through steps 1-5 and then give it a try.

  1. Get comfortable
    Sit in a comfortable position, as comfortable as you can get. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders and muscles.
  2. Deep breath in
    Take a deep breath in through your nose. Count “one, two”.
  3. Slow breath out
    Breathe out through your mouth, pucker your lips (as though you are about to whistle) and breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in. Count “one, two, three, four”. Don’t hold your breath between breathing in and out, aim to keep your breath flowing smoothly.
  4. Deep breathing
    Check you are using your diaphragm by placing your hand on your stomach. If you are using your diaphragm you should feel your stomach move out as you breathe in and move in as you breathe out. This helps to ensure you aren’t taking shallow breaths. Remember to keep your breaths deep, not shallow or big.
  5. Eyes Closed

Now close your eye and continue breathing this way until you feel relaxed.

What are the benefits of meditating?

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Stress: When stress overwhelms you, it can have serious health implications including anxiety, depression and even cardiovascular disease. Meditation activates the body’s natural relaxation response and not only calms the mind, allowing you to relax and the stress to gently leave the mind and body, it also it provides a deeper knowledge and understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions.

Anxiety:  The purpose of meditation isn’t to get rid of your anxiety, but to help you become more present in the moment. We often experience anxiety because we fixate on the past or on the future. However, meditation quiets an overactive brain so you’re intentionally focused on the here and now. 

Sleep: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials for insomnia found that eight weeks of in-person meditation training significantly improved total waking time and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.

Relationships: Mindfulness enhances couples’ levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, closeness and acceptance of each other while reducing relationship distress.

Cognition: Meditating for just four days is enough to improve memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual information. Meditation leads to activation in brain regions involved in self-regulation, problem-solving, adaptive behaviour and introspection. A 2013 review of three studies suggests that meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal ageing.

Research also suggests that practising meditation may reduce blood pressure and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

So where do I begin?

Try the tips below to start on your journey to a clearer mind. You can even try a movement meditation if that suits you, rather than sitting still. Sometimes this is just walking slowly and focusing on your footsteps, the sounds and your surrounds. Or a gentle, slow yoga practice moving with the breath.

Meditation Tips

Resources to help you start

  • Youtube videos like this Six Phase Meditation
  • Apps like Smiling Mind – a completely free set of guided meditations developed by a fellow Australian charity.
  • Meditation group Meet-ups
  • Meditation schools and classes in your area. Many yoga schools also offer group meditation