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A woman refusing a beer AccountingWEB Ditching the booze can help you and your business thrive
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Ditching the booze can help you and your business

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As another Dry January comes around, Molly Macfarlane looks at how avoiding alcohol can lead to improved focus, heightened productivity and a more inclusive workplace.

15th Jan 2024
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Given the stress of self assessment season, January might not seem like the best time for accountants to consider stopping drinking. However, recognising both the personal and professional benefits may be a motivator for joining Dry January.  

Paul Guess, a mental wellbeing expert at the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (caba), the occupational charity supporting ICAEW chartered accountants, explained the importance of understanding the negative effects of alcohol. Knowing how alcohol can impact you is crucial for personal and professional growth because it allows you to navigate challenges more effectively. 

“Without alcohol, your personality is authentic and you will feel mindfully present during your downtime, creating a strengthened bond with your work friends,” Guess said. “Ultimately, alcohol is a depressant, and we should be aware of how it can develop from a social add-on to a more harmful habit.”

Personal and professional growth

Laura Evison, the director of business development at Point Accounting, spoke about her experiences with going sober and how it changed her and her business. 

She decided to go sober in May 2022 after realising that alcohol was not the solution to her problems and was making her health worse. “I knew if I wanted to live a better life I had to try it without alcohol,” she said.

Not only did she notice differences in her mental and physical wellbeing but also how much going sober had a positive impact on her professional life. “My businesses have grown exponentially since getting sober 20 months ago,” she said. “I am always present, I am always taking action and quickly. My head is clear and I spot things others may not. I also think people like my honesty and transparency. They feel like they know me and can trust me, which is vital in my industry.”

Promoting inclusivity 

Reducing the focus on alcohol within workplace events can help create a more inclusive environment that respects and supports the choices of others. 

Guess spoke about the drinking culture in the UK and how this behaviour has been normalised in social situations and workplace events, like client lunches or team get-togethers. This can be isolating for those who do not drink for personal or health reasons.

“It’s time for employers and employees to rethink their workplace approach to gatherings with enjoyable, alcohol-free experiences,” he said. 

Evison shared her experiences of social events and said it makes things easier for people to know she’s not drinking. “This makes me feel more comfortable that people know and won’t try to encourage me to just have one, as that’s not possible for someone like me,” she said. 

“I have worked in other companies where events were always centred around going out early and drinking a lot. It never ends well in my experience and can cause a great deal of harm to individuals and a company,” Evison continued. 

However, she adopts an inclusive approach in her business by not making alcohol the main activity but also not cutting it out completely. She said, “We focus work events on an activity, then food, then a few drinks at which point I can stay a little while and leave when I feel ready, meaning I fully participate.”

Difficulties of being sober

Being the only one not drinking at a work event is not the only thing that Evison previously struggled with when she decided to go sober. 

“Gifts from clients are one of the biggest things I find hard. A lot of people buy alcohol as a gift and I would love to see a bigger change in this,” she said. 

She also mentioned the fact that although there are usually soft drinks available at events, there is still work to be done around this, by offering mocktails or non-alcoholic beers, for example.

These issues all stem from the fact that drinking is a massive part of the UK culture and a common way to socialise and unwind. Therefore Dry January, for accountants who are drowning in tax returns, is difficult. 

“Amid the new year stress, you may feel the need to unwind with colleagues after work. To create a set of boundaries in this sometimes-pressured culture, you must be confident in yourself and your relationship with alcohol. We must also understand that each person will have a different connection to alcohol,” Guess advised. 

Embrace Dry January 

So for those who fancy taking the plunge or are aiming to cut back on their alcohol intake, what can you do instead?

Guess recommends redirecting an evening centred around drinking into an evening dedicated to an activity or game of your choice. “Whether you host these evenings at someone’s home or find a cosy recreational location with board games or pool tables, the focus is on enjoyment, laughter and friendly competition,” he said. 

Physical activity is another way to embrace Dry January. Not only does it have a positive impact on mental and physical wellbeing but “encouraging your work friends to take part in activities like yoga, group classes or dance events can help build stronger bodies and relationships”, said Guess.

And for those who enjoy the taste of alcoholic drinks, Guess advised exploring alcohol-free options. Making a conscious decision to try non-alcoholic drinks and going sober will “help develop deeper connections and more vibrant workplace relationships”, Guess concluded. 

Is going sober or reducing your alcohol intake one of your new year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comments below. 

Replies (66)

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Caroline
By accountantccole
15th Jan 2024 14:37

200+ days in to my sober journey. I have to say tax return season is harder than Christmas / New Year but surviving it so far. Good to wake up fresh every morning, ready to battle the tax returns

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By Trethi Teg
15th Jan 2024 14:46

We really do not need to be told to stop drinking alcohol. We are not children. Please write something more productive and informative. You may find this offensive but no more more offensive than I feel when treated like a child.

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
Molly Macfarlane
By Molly Macfarlane
15th Jan 2024 15:53

This article is for "those who fancy taking the plunge or are aiming to cut back on their alcohol intake" or for anyone who is intrigued on the benefits of Dry January alongside those who may want to share their experiences too.

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Replying to Molly Macfarlane:
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By FactChecker
15th Jan 2024 19:03

Ye gods ... what has any of this got to do with accounting?

I cannot "fancy taking the plunge or aim to cut back on (my) alcohol intake" - for the simple reason that like all adherents to one of the world's true great religions, alcohol is haram.
So you don't need to be a recovering alcoholic to simply say that it never passes your lips.

What next? Functioning heroin addicts advised to go easy on their intake?

There's plenty of room out there for this type of article (just look at the internet in all its wondrous self-help guises) - just not here on Aweb if it aims to protect its brand.

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
16th Jan 2024 09:39

AccountingWEB has always published articles beyond the usual compliance topics of IR35, AML or VAT. It's what a well curated site should do.

We accept that the articles around diversity, equality and inclusion are not the core reason many of our readers visit AccountingWEB, but as insights from our Accounting Excellence Awards demonstrate, conversations around creating a more inclusive environment in the work place is increasingly becoming part of any firm's practice strategy.

If it's not for you, then stay tuned for an article on IR35 or the latest audit regulations coming soon on the site.

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Replying to Richard Hattersley:
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By Trethi Teg
16th Jan 2024 10:06

"Creating a more inclusive environment in the work place " I have been doing this now for a very long time. Running a business is about getting the work done in an efficient manner and keeping your clients happy. As such one employs the most suitable, talented individuals whether they be white, black, male, female etc etc. Following the fashion of "inclusivity" only makes the business less efficient.

Inclusivity etc is one of the reasons why our Goverment departments, NHS etc are such a bloody mess.

In the meantime rather than discipline myself not to drink during January I shall discipline myself to ignoring the articles you provide which, in my opinion, have no place in a professional publication. Hopefully my opinions will not get me cancelled.

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Replying to Richard Hattersley:
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By Trethi Teg
19th Jan 2024 12:26

Well Richard. Excluding the banter on this article 6 respondents felt it was inappropraite for this site whilst 1 supported it. Also 12 likes to my original comment. Perhaps you should take into account the views of the majority and get rid of this sort of nonsense.

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
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By johnjenkins
19th Jan 2024 14:11

So by my calculations which could be a bit out, 17 thanks for the article, 51 against. So maybe you should take the views of the majority and do whatever.

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
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By dab35
24th Jan 2024 15:54

Absolutely nothing in this article consists of the writer speaking to readers like a child. It is informativei n that it provides context of the topic at hand.
The info is there if you want it or not.
Commenting "I don't like being lectured" when no lecturing has taken place is somewhat questionable. Maybe just scroll by and don't comment if it irks that much?

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Replying to dab35:
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By johnjenkins
24th Jan 2024 16:19

So who decides the "topic at hand" and why it should be aimed at Accountants?

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By dab35
24th Jan 2024 17:21

Yes, because every single article on an accounting website must be about accounting 100% with no deviation whatsoever. Does it matter that this article exists here? Not at all.

Just not sure what the issue is here. I read the article, I found it interesting. I drink probably once or twice a month, if that, and never on a weekday. Still, I had no problem with this article whatsoever.

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Replying to dab35:
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By johnjenkins
25th Jan 2024 09:11

So Molly is now an expert in life and social skills? (Yes Molly you are entitled to an opinion just like the rest of us) You are right though, the article is meaningless.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Jan 2024 15:33

I was aiming for moist January. Been a big soggy so far.

NB my top tip when out in the local in a group to keep a lid on things is to drink Guinness and slip in a guinness Zero when its your round topped up with the real thing. It can cut down what might have been a silly night into something sensible without getting too much peer pressure.

Thanks (3)
Intercity
By Mr Hankey
15th Jan 2024 16:18

1st January to 21st April (London Marathon) will be alcohol free for me.

I do feel so much better for it, although alcohol does make tolerating boring people a bit easier, which I miss.

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By Open all hours
15th Jan 2024 18:03

Veggie week last week. Booze this. Please can we stop this preaching and get back to being a forum for professionals?

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By Amy Chin
15th Jan 2024 18:35

*vegan pls ;-)

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Replying to Amy Chin:
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By Open all hours
16th Jan 2024 08:27

Vegan. Sorry.

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Replying to Amy Chin:
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By Open all hours
16th Jan 2024 08:28

Usual AWeb Duplicate.

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Replying to Amy Chin:
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By Paul Crowley
20th Feb 2024 17:50

Are Vegans people who eat veggies?

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
15th Jan 2024 18:09

Reality is controlling drinking all year round is more likely to be optimal rather than merely a dry January.

I never drink that much anyway, it is years since I have had a hangover as I learned from age 31 onward that small kids and a hangover just do not mix.

If I can offer any real advice it is drink better quality alcohol as you get older and can afford the price, when a bottle of wine for the house is >£20 you tend to drink it slower and drink less, same applies with good malt whisky , cognac and the Pedro Ximenez sherry my daughter brought home for us on Saturday from our new local Leith distillery which is excellent.

https://leithexport.com/products/port-of-leith-distillery-pedro-ximenez-...

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
15th Jan 2024 18:35

Dry January is another of these woke mantras that plague society - like Woketober and Movember!
What next? Freeview February, Masochistic March, Abstinence April....

Jeez... even Catholicism wasn't as inquisitorial is this nonsense.

Amen.
ps: I made up the February one....

err...and the March.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
boxfile
By spilly
15th Jan 2024 22:20

Shame, I was looking forward to March....

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By dab35
24th Jan 2024 15:49

Could you explain how deciding to reduce or not drink is 'woke'? Never heard that one before!

Movember is a charity set up to promote awareness of men's mental health and to help prevent male suicide. The moustache is simply a symbol of the charity designed to spark conversation; men grow them to show support for the cause. Is being charitable 'woke' now too?

Perhaps these kind of comments belong to the Telegraph/Daily Mail and not here.

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By Postingcomments
15th Jan 2024 21:26

I believe it is called "intersectionality" - a modern media technique of inserting various ideas and narratives into - well - everywhere.

eg
"Accountants and alcohol"
"Accounting for climate change"

You pick up a magazine for one of your hobbies - to escape from all that is going on in the world - and half of it is:
"Model railways and how you are all racist"
"Growing vegetables is adjacent to anti-government and extremist thinking"

There is no escape - which is exactly the plan. It's a constant jackboot stamping on your human face forever.

Thanks (10)
Replying to Postingcomments:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 09:47

Why are you picking on me, I have both a model railway (very small-oo9) and an allotment, accordingly it appears I am a Racist Anti Government Extremist.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 10:04

Well are you?

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Replying to johnjenkins:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 10:25

Well the initials certainly express my demeanour at times.

Have just now acquired another thing to get in a rage about, Accounting Web red underlines "demeanour", by so doing it makes me doubt my spelling but on checking it appears it wants to speak trans Atlantic English- I now want a nationwide campaign for UK spelling on UK websites.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 10:44

I have often been asked whether JJ stands for Jewish Gentile.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 10:46

No-JJ is someone I was at university with, Jonathan Jude

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 11:44

He wasn't involved with the Beatles was he?

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Replying to johnjenkins:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 12:46

Hey John, don't make it bad.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 12:54

Take a bad post and make it beteeer.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Rob Swan
18th Jan 2024 15:52

Ooops :/

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Paul Crowley
20th Feb 2024 17:57

Confession is good for the soul
Unless it is about being Vegan. That religion requires that the disciples confess their religion daily to everyone they meet. Hourly to their co-workers.

Thanks (1)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
16th Jan 2024 09:31

Sorry but this feels a bit preachy . How accountants - bookkeepers live is up to themselves. In Glasgow I see many businesses enjoying a beer together, you do not have to drink and many do not. It is quite easy to mix the both.

I gave up alcohol for a year during covid only because I preferred going out but I did not go around telling everyone or advise them to do the same.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 09:52

As my father would say, "There are none the worse than the converted"- former smokers are for me the worst, at times I feel I ought to blow cigar smoke in their faces just to give them something to really whine about.

Thanks (5)
Replying to DJKL:
By SteveHa
16th Jan 2024 13:10

You'd get a face full of vape back if you did that to me ;)

Thanks (0)
Replying to DJKL:
@enanen
By enanen
16th Jan 2024 14:36

I prefer when you could go and smoke in pubs. For me as a non-smoker or drinker, they now spend their time outside puffing in your face as you walk by. And they think farting is unsocial.....

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@enanen
By enanen
16th Jan 2024 09:49

Having never had alcohol, smoked or taken substances, this personal tax season is still as irritating as every one before it.

Thanks (3)
Replying to enanen:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2024 09:53

Well, if you have none of these vices your love life must be frenetic.

Thanks (1)
Replying to DJKL:
@enanen
By enanen
16th Jan 2024 10:03

I am working on sorting the madness. It is a slow process.

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By RobbieT
16th Jan 2024 11:14

Professionals who have their lives in order trying to demonstrate some sort of prowess by taking on an imaginary struggle with alcohol. Be who you're going to be, but let's not hold it up as some sort of virtue... it's virtue signalling.
Unless you genuinely do have a problem with alcohol, in which case AWeb would not be my first port of call.
Dry January means dry martinis and crisp, dry white burgundies.

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By Mr J Andrews
16th Jan 2024 11:15

Reportedly being succesful in claiming his 6 pints of lager before a snooker match, as a tax deduction, perhaps Bill Werbeniuk would have benefitted from Molly's article before his untimely death.

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Replying to Mr J Andrews:
By SteveHa
16th Jan 2024 13:12

Didn't Bill claim some sort of medical condition which meant he couldn't play without a constant stream of beer?

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 14:04

Why man.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By FactChecker
16th Jan 2024 14:15

From the Fab Four to the Dartford Five in only 10 posts?

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By johnjenkins
16th Jan 2024 14:26

Are they Real ales?

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By Mr J Andrews
16th Jan 2024 11:16

Reportedly being successful in claiming his 6 pints of lager before a snooker match, as a tax deduction, perhaps Bill Werbeniuk would have benefitted from Molly's article before his untimely death.

Thanks (0)
Profile
By indomitable
16th Jan 2024 12:43

Another inappropriate article from accounting web

I am getting sick and tired of being preached to! For Pete's sake accounting web what is this forum becoming?

I couldn't care less what anyone thinks about dry January or not. This is not the forum!

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By Justin Bryant
16th Jan 2024 14:23

Interesting how only 15-20 odd years ago it was de rigueur to exaggeratedly boast about how many pints you had each day à la William Hague et al. I guess all this modern-day mollycoddling is why so many pubs are closing.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/aug/09/thatcher.williamhague
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/10/by-mollycoddling-o...

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