Top 3 Stress Relief Mistakes Part 2 - Alcohol
Hi guys, yesterday I started a 3 part blog post series about the top 3 stress-relief mistakes and how to stop doing them. We got the first one, binge eating out of the way so today we're going to look at the second most common mistake people make when trying to lower their stress levels: alcohol.
So just as a quick recap, here's a list of the top 3 stress-relief mistakes, or as I like to call them; the 3B's:
Today we're going to tackle alcohol and tomorrow I'll give you some of my best tips when it comes to anger management in the face of overwhelming stress.
"Alcohol is the Anesthesia by Which We Endure the Operations of Life"
- George Bernard Shaw
Alcohol is the black sheep of the top 3 stress-relief mistakes that so many people make. Unlike binge eating and blowing up on random people around you, excessive drinking can get you into a lot of trouble quickly.
The problem is that many people intuitively self-medicate with alcohol. In fact, society relies on moderate drinking to control our anxiety levels. It's just an easy and affordable way to take the edge off. It can make you into the person you "used to be" and you can feel "normal" again. It's usually the longing for this feeling of "being normal" and "unhindered" that people start drinking for stress-relief.
However, there's a catch. Although alcohol can lower your stress levels, hangovers the next day will be devastating. Keep in mind that if you're stressed out, your system is exhausted; the last thing it needs is having to deal with intoxication. So the hangover the next day is going to be much worse than usual. Most people feel edgy and depressed for days afterwards and that's not counting the shame and the guilt that you can end up feeling over anything you might have said or done while you were drunk.
And let's not forget that you can actually get addicted to alcohol and it's not only your health that's going to suffer from your addiction but your relationships as well. According to recent statistics alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today. The report goes on to say that a whopping two thirds of the victims of domestic violence said that their attacker had been drinking.
Now alcohol won't make you commit pre-meditated crime. But it can mess with your head and it can make you do things that you wouldn't do otherwise... No one wants to become another statistic.
So it's very important that you stop self-medicating with alcohol. You have to realize that it's unhealthy, addictive and it can make you do things that you'd later regret. And anyway, there are much better and safer ways to unwind, stay calm and lower your stress levels than a couple of drinks.
The Sober Mindset
The thing about alcohol is that it's a very popular social lubricant. Try to have a dinner party without alcohol and get away with it. It's just part of our culture: we rely on it to relax us and make it easier to mingle.
So if you refuse to have a drink with people, you can quickly end up looking weird. I mean it sure is hilarious to be the only sober guy at a party but people expect you to drink - and sometimes it's okay to give in to their expectations.
The keyword is moderation. The point is to be in control of how much you drink - if at all - and not let yourself be carried away.
What you definitely want to avoid is hangovers. They increase the physical symptoms of depression and anxiety by 10X and they also make you feel like a wimp the next day. The next day your self-confidence hits rock bottom and it can take several days to built it up again. And as if that wasn't bad enough on its own, hangovers can amplify your anxiety levels to the point that you might not be able to function properly for a few days.
So if you drink too much, you'll probably end up in a worse place than if you had never drunk in the first place.
How to Stay Cool and Sober
- Drink with somebody else. This is very powerful. Make a promise to yourself to only drink socially. Even if you want to drink on your own, invite someone you trust over to your place and have them watch over you. It's just like having an accountability buddy with you and it really helps with knowing when to stop drinking.
- Drink a lot of water. This is kind of a plan B if the first step fails. Make sure you drink a lot of water before drinking alcohol. Water makes you full so you won't be able to drink as much. It also quenches your thirst so you won't be drinking because you're thirsty.
- Eat bananas. On the one hand, bananas are an anti-anxiety super-food that will lower your social stress levels. On the other hand, it's gentle on the stomach and replenishes many of the electrolytes you lose during drinking!
At the end of the day, you don't want to drink for stress-relief or because it makes you feel "normal." If you start to depend on alcohol to unwind, you'll find yourself addicted to it. I mean if you use booze like a crutch, it will end up like a crutch - it can only take you so far before it breaks.
Alcohol can make you feel like the person you used to be but it's a trap. It promises instant gratification: you feel unhindered, and all your worries and frustration goes away. However, it's only a short-term solution. You may be able to escape the symptoms for a little while by drinking but your problem will remain and the symptoms will come back stronger the next day.
Just don't drink alcohol to lower your stress and anxiety levels. It's not worth it. You'll hate the person you become.
Alcohol is not the solution. It just makes you forget the question.