Drinking is a common end-of-day activity and can be part of a daily relaxation routine. It can seem harmless, especially if everyone is doing it. Work can be stressful, so a drink or two might help you unwind and get ready for your evening.
Drinking to relax is a habit that many people have, but is it a good idea? Having a drink may make you feel relaxed, but if you’re using it as a coping mechanism for stress then you could be headed for trouble.
The Problems with Drinking When You’re Stressed
Stress is a common issue for most people these days. Work is hard. Life is complicated. Family is demanding. Stress can also be the cause of several physical and mental health issues. Managing stress is the best way to attain and maintain optimum health.
Recent studies show what happens in your brain when you add alcohol to stress. It reacts differently than it does when you are not stressed. Your brain develops the habit of drinking much more quickly when it is under stress. If you drink when you are stressed, you are much more likely to drink again the next day, whether you are stressed or not.
A drinking habit that turns into an addiction is serious. Alcoholism has severe physical and mental health consequences, including death. By drinking when you are stressed, you are accelerating your journey to addiction and chronic health problems.
If you are using alcohol to relax, you are only masking the problem. Alcohol reduces your perception of stress but does not solve the underlying issue. When you stop drinking, the problem is still there.
Try These Tips for Coping with Stress Instead
When you are used to drinking after work, and that is what most of your friends do, it can be difficult to come up with alternate activities. Here are some ideas you can try in lieu of alcohol for stress relief, after work or anytime:
- Exercise: It seems counterintuitive to exercise when stress makes you feel worn out, but physical activity that improves your circulation, like walking, can reduce stress. A brisk walk after work can help you clear your mind and unwind. Participating in organized sports can add some fun and socialization to your wind-down routine.
- Listen to Music: Calm, relaxing music can reduce stress and calm anxiety. Music can actually change your brain chemistry and positively affect your mood.
- Find a Hobby: Spending an hour practicing an activity you enjoy can counteract the stress of a busy work day. One of the reasons people are attracted to various hobbies is because they feel happy and relaxed when participating in them. Picking up your paintbrush, crochet hook or fishing pole after work can help you unwind.
- Hydrotherapy: Water has a calming effect and can be soothing after a stressful day at work. Do a few laps in the pool, take a dip at the beach, soak in a warm bath or take a hot shower. Engaging in some sort of water activity can relax you after work and help you sleep better at night.
- Breathe: It sounds easy, but many people forget to take deep, restorative breaths when they are under stress. Making a conscious effort to breathe can reduce stress. Practice some deep breathing exercises after work, and you will find it easier to unwind. With regular practice, you may notice that you are breathing deeper throughout the day also.
When you find activities that relax you, you will want to repeat them often. These activities are healthier ways of reducing stress than consuming alcohol.
Get Help If Drinking Alcohol to Cope With Stress Is Becoming a Problem
If you find your alcohol consumption escalating as the stress in your life grows, you may need help. Alcohol is not a good way to cope with stress. If you need help establishing a new, healthy routine in your life, contact Brookhaven Retreat. Our beautiful, 48-acre property is the right place to reset your life.