Is it true that drinking when you're stressed is the best way to unwind? NO.
Is the first thing that comes to mind when you're stressed, "I want a drink."?
Don't worry; you aren't automatically classified as an alcoholic. In fact, many people use alcohol and liquor to cope with stress. However, while you may believe that drinking would “take the edge off,” the fact is that it will most likely accomplish the opposite.
So, when you're stressed , is it okay to drink?
No, is the short answer.
But first, let's look at why alcohol and stress don't mix.
Here are seven reasons why drinking alcohol when you're anxious isn't a good idea, as well as some healthy stress-relieving alternatives.
- Alcohol Consumption Increases Stress
Some people find that drinking a small amount of red wine on occasion helps them relax. However, there have been numerous documented cases where alcohol has caused people to become more stressed.
Alcohol affects your judgment in a negative manner.
Imagine how much worse it will be if you add booze to the mix if you can't handle stress without it. Consider the last time you drank excessively. Did you fall asleep peacefully or act completely out of character?
The next morning is generally loaded with remorse, a bad hangover, and you feel even worse than the day before. Do you think that's a good way to relieve stress?
- You'll Increase Your Tolerance
Your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol, just like it does to prescription medication, narcotics, or any other substance, and you need more of it to experience the effects.
Sure, alcohol reduces the body's physiological stress reactions, but that only means you'll need more the next time you go for a drink to achieve the same level of relief.
Instead of puking after a couple of glasses, it now takes four or five to feel intoxicated.
You should also keep in mind that alcoholic beverages are not digested in the same way that other foods and beverages are. In reality, they take more energy to process, and when your body expends a lot of energy to metabolize alcohol, it will simply make you feel more stressed.
Even if you first feel more calm, you will ultimately become more anxious.
- Alcohol is a Compulsive Consumption
Do you enjoy going home at the end of the day and unwinding with a glass of wine? Does it make you feel more at ease and help you forget about your worries? Yes, it very likely does, but that might be the issue.
It's possible that you'll do it and love it too much, causing you to grow reliant on it. In fact, if you drink for long enough, you may not be able to relax at home without a glass or two.
When you combine this with the tolerance that you are building up, you are truly looking at one explosive situation that could erupt at the drop of a hat.
According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 15 million adults have alcohol use disorder. Avoid using alcohol to cope with stress if you don’t want to be part of that statistic.
- Drinking Changes Your Behavior
Have you ever been around someone who changes when they drink? Well, it is due to the fact alcohol has adverse reactions on the brain and body. It blocks receptors and makes people act differently than they normally would.
For instance, you might be a totally relaxed and carefree person. But get a few drinks in you and you completely turn violent. This can be a scary situation. When you factor in the stress level, it just makes the rage and intensity even worse.
- Stress Might Make You Drink More
There is nothing worse than consuming too much alcohol. You will probably not only remember nothing from the night before, but you will wake up with a huge hangover that only intensifies the stress and makes you feel worse than you already did.
]Recent studies and research have shown that stress can actually change the effect that alcohol has on the body. This is why stress and alcohol often times go hand in hand.
As mentioned before, alcohol isn’t exactly metabolized like regular food and drink. The body has to consume much more energy burning alcohol. Well, it has been scientifically proven that stress diminishes the energy boost as well.
What this basically means is, the relaxing and sedative effect that you get from alcohol diminishes when you’re stressed out. When you are stressed and consume alcohol to relieve that stress, you will literally have to drink more to get that relaxing and sedative effect that you are seeking.
When you throw in tolerance and dependency issues, this just makes the whole situation more threatening.
- Excessive Drinking Damages Your Liver
The liver is one of the most important organs in your body. In fact, its main purpose is to help your body metabolize everything that you eat and drink. Since alcohol is so much harder to metabolize, the liver has to put in twice as much work to transform it.
This not only makes it wear out faster, but it opens it up to various diseases and other conditions. You only get one liver and you don’t want to destroy it by consuming too many alcoholic beverages.
- You’ll Make Bad Decisions
Have you ever wondered why so many individuals end up in drunken disputes or drunk driving accidents? Well, it’s because alcohol impairs your mind and makes you brave enough to do things that you normally wouldn’t do.
You could easily be talked into doing something that you might otherwise find offensive or adverse. When you are drinking to relieve stress you might not think twice about getting drunk and stepping behind the wheel.
The stress will only make the situation even that much worse, so you are truly looking at one volatile situation when you combine both of these negative factors.
Alternatives to Drinking to Relieve Stress
Sure, stress is hard and it is even harder to deal with in a variety of different situations. This is why you have to find a healthy way to deal with the situation. Thankfully, there are tons of different healthy activities and practices that you can partake in to help relieve your stress.
Here are some alternatives to drinking to relieve stress:
Confront the Issue Head On
Most people get stressed out by an issue and just put it off. A late bill or divorce papers are perfect examples. Sure, shoving them to the side and forgetting about them might seem easier, but it doesn’t make them go away does it?
No, it only makes the situation come back worse.
This is why it imperative to learn to confront the issue head-on as soon as it arrives at your doorstep. This will not only lessen the overall stress in your life, but it will increase your problem-solving skills.
Turn To Peaceful Meditation Or Yoga
Meditation and yoga are two of the most popular stress relievers out there.
In fact, scientific studies have proven that practicing meditation and yoga not only clears the mind, but it can have a variety of other positive effects on the body. It’s one of the reasons pregnancy yoga has become so popular!
When the mind is clear the stress will simply melt away and everything else will just seem mundane.
Learn To Talk To Someone
It doesn’t matter what type of stressful situation you are in. There is a good chance that you know someone that has already been there, done that. Right now, you might think that there is no one that knows what you are going through, but that simply just isn’t true.
In fact, your parents or grandparents are a wealth of knowledge and might be able to provide you with the knowledge that you need to overcome certain adverse situations.
You can also reach out to a friend that’s willing to listen. Just don’t hold it in and try to handle all your stressors alone.
Walk Away And Clear Your Mind
The more you sit and stew in a negative situation, the more negative it becomes. You probably just sit there and think about the negative and how it is going to negatively impact your life. Dwelling on stressful events in your life doesn’t help anything.
This is why you need to learn to walk away from the situation, clear your head, and approach it from a different thought perspective. Go sit somewhere quiet where you can just relax and be left with your thoughts.
When you’re clear-headed, you’d be surprised how much easier it becomes to solve certain situations