Alcoholic Beverages & Mental Health – Your Body Is A Temple
It’s so easy isn’t it? To go from having the odd drink here and there to having far more than you should without really registering your increased alcohol consumption. I don’t really go on night’s out these days, and if I do, they’re few and far in between. But I do eat out, go to friends for dinner and drink stupid amounts of prosecco and wine at weddings, hen do’s and events.
Since when did I need to drink four glasses of red wine and two glasses of prosecco when going round a friend’s for dinner. When you’re dining with another couple, before you know it, you’ve polished off a few bottles of wine. Ooops, how did that happen?! Then I wake up, feel crap the next day and wonder why I drank so much when one or two glasses of wine would have done just fine.
I generally struggle with a lot of things I put into my body. Take caffeine for example – I don’t drink it. Because not only does it give me a poorly tum, it sends my anxiety from 0 to 100 in an instant. Caffeine gives me heart palpitations and makes me feel like some weird energy has taken over my limbs. I once took tablets not releasing their contain caffeine for several days – and let’s just say the outcome wasn’t ideal. I also can’t have too much sugar or I feel physically ill, and I’ve had bad mental reaction to certain prescription drugs.
So, it’s safe to say, that I probably shouldn’t consume too much alcohol either. Seeing as it is a drug and all. Alcohol has become so ingrained into our lifestyle that we don’t stop to think about what it’s doing to us. And we most likely think about the physical impact it has on us (hello beer belly/wine pouch) rather than the mental implications. And we should, especially as alcohol technically is a depressant.
You might feel on top of the world the minute you do that shot or swig a can of beer, but those feelings are only temporary, and they can be followed by far more unpleasant mood swings and upset. You’ve probably felt that low you get during a hangover, but once the hangover disappears you thank the lord and get on with your life again.
Newsflash, there are long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption too. Who knows that all those cheeky drinks are doing to your mind in the long run? Especially seeing as alcohol can disrupt the balance of chemicals and processes in the brain. Find out some facts and information about alcohol and anxiety on the Drinkaware website.
Lately, I’ve definitely noticed that my anxiety gets worse if I’ve been drinking. Even if it’s just two glasses of wine with dinner, when I go to bed, I’m more likely to have a meltdown, and my behaviour feels much more intensified. When you have bad anxiety, all you want is to feel normal. One way I’ve found I can gain better control of my moods and mental wellbeing is to treat my body as a temple. If I know what goes in, I have a better chance of staying strong and not jeopardising my wellbeing for no reason.
Mental Health Awareness Week – Alcohol and stress
The main focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is stress. As reported by the Mental Health Foundation, “research has shown that 16 million people experience a mental health problem each year, and stress is a key factor in this”.
And alcohol can certainly make stress a lot worse. Sure, that glass of wine you have when you’re feeling uptight might temporarily relax you, but drinking regularly can make your mental health and stress worse in the long run.
I know quite a few people who claim drinking wine in the evening helps them sleep. Well, it does, kinda. It can help you drift off to sleep, but once you enter dreamland that pesky alcohol can result in disturbed sleep. Ever been on a night out, fallen straight to sleep and then spent the rest of the night tossing and turning? Yeah, that will be the alcohol altering your sleep cycle.
If you’re relying on alcohol to help you sleep and relax, well, you’re probably opening a can of worms. You’d be much better off cutting out the booze and finding more natural, helpful ways to relax and improve your wellbeing. Like doing plenty of exercise, having an uber-relaxing bubble bath, getting bendy and doing some yoga and working on your meditation skills.
My drink reduction goals for the next few months
As I mentioned earlier, we often try to reduce our alcohol intake because of the impact on our physical health. Well, I’m trying very hard to get my body into peak physical condition, and the reality is, I’m not going to do that if I keep drinking so heavily in social situations.
It’s not like I sit at home at the weekend and drink loads of wine, I might have a couple on a Saturday night whilst eating dinner and binging on a TV series with the hubby. But I bet if I counted how many units I consume in a month where I’ve had a hen do, a wedding, a few meals out and gone to a friend’s birthday celebrations. It really adds up.
So now, in an attempt to improve both my physical and mental health (with an emphasis on the latter), I’m going to cut down on my alcohol intake. The hubby and I won’t buy ourselves wine and drink at home for the next few months. I’ll limit myself to one or two glasses at social occasions and I’m going to try really hard to drink lots more water.
Wish me luck! And feel free to share this post. I’d really like to help raise awareness of the impact alcohol has on mental health, and help others with anxiety gain more control over their mental state. Here’s to a clear mind and an (almost) alcohol-free existence. For more info on this topic, check out this handy video which explains a few things…