TV commercials encourage you to have a drink to relax. However, the relationship
between alcohol and anxiety can be more complicated than that.
There are several reasons why alcohol tends to disturb your peace of mind.
Embarrassing yourself at an office party may be an obvious danger, but there’s also a
molecular explanation. Alcohol causes changes in your brain chemicals, including
gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) that’s involved in regulating anxiety.
Your brain adjusts to the sedating effects of alcohol but may have trouble balancing
itself again when your blood alcohol content starts to fall. That could leave you
feeling more anxious than when you started, and that uneasiness may last for a day
Lifestyle changes and professional help can make a big difference if alcohol and
anxiety are disrupting your life. Learn what you can do to turn things around.
Tips for Drinking in Moderation
Prolonged heavy drinking often contributes to anxiety. The Australian Government Heath Advice recommends limiting yourself to one drink a day for women and two for men on the days you do drink.
Try these techniques to limit alcohol consumption:
- Plan ahead. Decide what you’re going to drink before you get started. Maybe you’ll skip wine with dinner, so you can have a glass of port afterwards.
- Slow down. Sip your drink. Order a glass of water in between if you
consume more than one alcoholic beverage.
- Eat food. Filling up on food allows your body to absorb alcohol more gradually.
Fats and proteins are especially useful for slowing the process down. On the
other hand, skip the salty snacks that will make you thirstier and more
- Enjoy other activities. If you’re used to bar hopping on date nights, go for a hike
or visit a science museum instead. Spend your leisure time working on hobbies
rather than drinking beer while watching TV.
- Resist social pressure. Rehearse what to say if someone asks why you’re
turning down a drink. Let your family and friends know you’re trying to cut
back, if that is comfortable for you.
- Take time off. Celebrate Dry January or the abstinence days of your choice.
Taking a break from alcohol gives your body and mind time to recover.
Other Tips for Coping with Anxiety
- Using alcohol to manage anxiety is likely to backfire.
- Replace cocktails with strategies that are safer and more effective, such as these:
- Take sensible risks.
- Avoiding things that scare you may be adding to your anxiety.
- Facing your fears teaches you that you’re strong enough to handle life’s challenges.
- Start with small projects and work your way up.
- Get enough sleep. You’re more resilient when you’re well rested. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of high-quality sleep each night.
- Eat healthy. Your diet can help you to relax. Use foods rich in fiber to stabilize
your blood sugar. Experiment with foods high in certain minerals, like leafy
greens for magnesium and egg yolks for zinc.
- Exercise regularly. Working out is a great way to use up nervous energy and
benefit your mood.
- Seek help. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues, affecting
almost 20% of the adult population. Search for therapists who have experience
treating anxiety and substance abuse issues. You may need to target both areas
in order to avoid relapses.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, a glass of wine may relax you in the short term,
but it’s still important to deal with underlying issues. Adopt healthy habits for
managing stress and talk with a professional if you need more help.
If you need help, contact Charlestown Hypnotherapy
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