For two years, I lived down the street from both the local dive bar and the bar where all the local dive bar employees went to drink after their shifts. It was closest thing I've experienced to having a neighborhood pub, and it was a pretty great time for me, mentally and emotionally. I realize that this probably sounds a little weird, since we hear over and over about the detriments of alcohol — but hey, guess what? A new study has found that people who live near a small, local pub are routinely happier, as well as less likely to drink excessively. And they tend to have more friends. And they have a higher life satisfaction. These are all amazing things. I can attest to them.
Now, to be clear, these findings are not saying that being near any old bar is good for you, nor is it implying that being by a lot of bars is even better. The study, conducted by the University of Oxford for (OK, OK) beer advocacy group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), focused on communities throughout Oxfordshire, England, and their small, local pubs. This means that we're dealing with a very specific type of establishment in a very specific location; as such, we might not be able to draw any wide-reaching, universal conclusions from the results.
In any event, though, researchers found that pubs, which on the surface are simply establishments that serve alcohol, provide customers with regular, face-to-face social interaction, an important element to mental well-being.
According to Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, regular visits to the pub foster "friendship and community." It also doesn't hurt that peoples are often a little more sociable after having a drink.
Says Professor Dunbar, "Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary."
Pub culture is, unfortunately, not so much a thing in the United States, but that doesn't mean you can't take a few cues from our brethren across the lake. Here's how to reap the benefits of a friendly neighborhood pub while simultaneously drinking responsibly. (That means don't go overboard, people. Heck, you can even drink soda instead, if you like.)
1. Become a Regular
Having worked in the service industry for a while, I can attest to the fact that regulars get special treatment. They do, straight up. Whenever I move to a new place, I try to find a local bar whose vibe I like, whose bartenders I like, and whose prices won't leave me penniless. Then I frequent it. It's a great way to make new friends, I promise.
2. Establish a Weekly Get Together
It can be at the same place each time, or a new place each time, but get out of the house and go be a li'l social butterfly at some point during the work week.
3. Get Off Your Phone
During that weekly get together, make it rule that nobody uses their phones (except for emergencies, duh). Maybe even make people put them in a pile in the middle of the table. Face-to-face interactions, away from screens, is what boosts people up emotionally within pub culture, not using your phone in a loud, crowded space.
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