British Heart Foundation urges people to find other ways to relax
More than half of us have had our first Christmas Day drink by lunchtime in order to cope with the stress of the day, a survey suggests.
Some 58% of Britons think it is acceptable to start drinking by 1pm, according to a YouGov survey of 2,190 adults, commissioned by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). One in six (16%) said people were entitled to start imbibing as early as 11am, prompting the charity to warn of the dangers of starting too early.
Asked why they reached for the bottle on Christmas Day, 9% said it was so that they did not feel left out of family celebrations. Among retired people, 12% said they drank more in order to feel part of the family.
Separate BHF research shows that almost one in three people drink at least five days a week in the runup to Christmas, far more than usually.
Asked to recall their drinking habits in December last year, 11% said they drank every day, 6% did so on six days out of seven and 14% - one in seven - consumed alcohol five days a week, making 31% who did so at least five out of seven days.
That was significantly more than the 19% who said they drank that regularly during a normal week, although only 10% said they drank every day then, just 1% fewer than pre-Christmas.
"Many people are drinking more regularly in the buildup to Christmas, with some starting as early as 11am on the big day," said Judy O'Sullivan, head of the BHF's Heart Matters information and support service for people with heart problems.
"Christmas can be a stressful time for families, and it seems alcohol is the method of choice to relieve the pressure. Even though it's only once a year, it's important to look for other ways to relax rather than automatically reaching for the bottle."
Last week a survey of 2,003 adults found that 35% of Britons find Christmas the most stressful time of year, mainly because of financial pressures and family difficulties.
Photo: Many people drink every day in the runup to Christmas. Photograph: CandyBox Photography/Alamy