Safer celebration: Choose your fun this Spring Racing Carnival
Take it easy — Everything in moderation
It’s been a heavy few years for Australian communities. Bushfires, pandemics, floods, inflation. A lot of us are looking for a way to release that tension. For some of us the festivities of the Spring Racing Carnival present an opportunity to loosen up and forget your stress for a while. Unfortunately, sometimes we party a little too hard and the whole experience ends up increasing our stress in the long run. We drink too much and say something we shouldn’t, end up with an expensive Uber cleaning fee, or drive when we really weren’t safe to. It was supposed to be fun but it just made everything worse.
You can save yourself from that feeling by taking your time and planning ahead.
The key: pace and space
Some tips to pace yourself:
- Decide how many drinks you want to have.
- Stick to your limit.
- Time your drinks — maybe you’ll only have one drink an hour, or every two hours.
- Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks — your head will thank you in the morning if you drink a lot of water.
- Choose drinks with lower alcohol content, or dilute your drinks with water or ice.
- Eat! Eating alongside your drinks will help you pace your consumption and can also help to lower the rate of alcohol absorption into your bloodstream and brain. Choosing protein-rich foods before you drink can really improve how you feel the morning after.
It’s okay to abstain
Many Australians report feeling peer pressure to drink, so we just want to say: whether you’ve reassessed your relationship with alcohol or just don’t feel like it on the day, it’s completely okay if don’t want to drink at all. If you’ve always been up for a few drinks, you might feel self-conscious about deciding to stick to the soft drinks, but it’s likely that your friends won’t notice or care
If they do care, they’re the ones with the problem, not you. You don’t need to justify your decision and you don’t owe anybody an explanation.
Of course, while that’s true, it’s easy to say but often harder to live. If you are feeling awkward about the attention and you’re not ready to tell overbearing friends to mind their own business, it can be useful to think about what you want to say in advance. People avoid drinking for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re on a health and fitness kick. Maybe you’re trying to save money. Maybe you’re on medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol. Figure out what feels natural to you.
The best way of all to avoid scrutiny is to nominate yourself the designated driver — even the nosiest (or noisiest) people are just happy to have a ride home.
Don’t be another statistic
We all know that car accidents spike around the holidays.
Give yourself the opportunity to make smarter decisions. Plan how you’re going to get to and from Melbourne Cup parties. Arrange a designated driver, set aside a budget for an Uber, or plan your public transport route. You won’t regret it when you get home safe.
Remember that the house always wins
Spring Carnival parties tend to be all about drinking, gambling and fancy hats. The hats are great, but the combination of alcohol and gambling can be risky. We hear from clients that they’re more likely to gamble more than they can afford when they’ve been drinking.
The gambling industry know that having a bit of a punt is deeply woven into Australian culture, and they make sure to take the opportunity by flooding our billboards, airwaves and social media with ads that associate gambling with happiness, parties, and friends having a great time.
If you’re planning to attend Spring Carnival festivities, remember that you’ve been targeted by more alcohol and gambling than usual, and be conscious of how that might be affecting your decision-making. If you are going to gamble, you might want to set yourself a limit before you start drinking and make it difficult for yourself to exceed it by carrying limited cash or cards.
If you are going to gamble, maybe check how this self-assessment can help you to reflect and decide how much you are willing to spend.
You don’t need to drink the bar dry to have a great time. Wear a fancy hat or dapper suit, gossip with your friends, and cheer on the horses — or bail on the whole thing, stay home and watch Netflix on the couch. Contact a friend who hates the races (we promise you have one) and ask if they want to grab a meal or kick a ball around. Think about what actually sounds fun to you and make that a priority.
If you feel like you need to drink to enjoy a social event, it might be that it’s the wrong social event for you, and that’s fine. Spend some time thinking about how you actually want to spend your day. If it’s not fun without getting drunk, it’s probably just not that much fun.