Imagine this. You come home from a busy day at work and feel you need a glass of wine to relax, so you grab a glass and the bottle and pour yourself a well-deserved drink. This happens every day.
Is this you?
If you are like many people I speak to who want to relax and feel better in life, you reach for what seems an easy answer, alcohol.
From my experience, people often resort to alcohol to switch off and blur the stresses of everyday life. Do you feel that you always need alcohol to relax?
You wish you didn’t resort to that glass of wine because you realise now that it’s becoming a habit. And one glass leads to another. You might even finish the bottle.
You know your portion is too big, and you want to be healthy and not consume alcohol daily.
But perhaps you are like many hard-working people who think relaxation is only achieved at the end of the day by drinking alcohol. Yet there are several things to consider.
The solutions to stress are easier when you consider the ways you can learn to relax and get help.
Does alcohol help you relax?
Yes, it will help at first. You often sit down when you have a glass of wine, and that’s relaxing.
You have left a stressful situation; that’s often work. Changing the environment will help you to relax.
So you have that glass of wine or something else. How much do you have to feel relaxed? One glass, two glasses or more to help you relax? And is the quantity or the frequency increasing? Some people keep increasing the amount to get the same relaxed feelings.
But what are the consequences of drinking too much?
Counsellors call this self-sabotaging behaviour. In other words, alcohol evades negative thoughts and behaviours. So if you lack confidence and self-esteem, you might resort to alcohol. If you can’t cope and feel you have too many demands on your life, you might turn to alcohol. Maybe stepping outside your comfort zone feels too difficult.
Is drinking wine every day after work a problem?
As with many things, it all depends.
Alcohol is a poison, but there are reported small benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation. For example, small amounts of alcohol may help the heart and circulation.
However, there are many negative aspects of alcohol consumption because everyone is different, and what is considered moderate drinking may be okay for one person but not for another. People have different weights, different health issues and different environmental influences. Some people are influenced by parents who drink too much or by cultural or religious backgrounds against alcohol. Society plays a big part because alcohol is associated with socialising and having a good time.
But you are intelligent, are you not? You know that too much alcohol is not good.
But what is too much? It is recommended that you do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week.
Maybe you know how many recommended units you should have, but even if you don’t, you already know much more about yourself and alcohol than you realise.
And only you know if drinking wine every day is helping you in the long run or not.
You know when you have had too much to drink in the past.
You know what happens to your body. Yes, you relax, but you also may lose your balance, feel tired, hungry or get a headache, vomit or fall asleep, depending on the amount you drink in one session.
You know what happens to your mind. You don’t care about things in the same way. You forget. You find things funny, or you can find things more depressing. You also find it much easier to socialise as your social anxiety decreases.
Now think again. Are you drinking too much? Is there a problem, or could you develop a problem for the future?
Now you can choose to drink less, stop drinking or continue to increase your alcohol consumption.
What should you do if you think you drink too much?
I believe that you have the power to change if you want to.
Think about the last two weeks and describe what you have had to drink. It may only be a guesstimate, but at least you will have a starting point.
Work out how much you are spending per week on alcohol.
Consider the number of calories you are consuming. Are you overweight, or does drinking stop you from eating healthily?
Now reflect on other people around you. Do they drink too much as well? Perhaps they encourage you to drink more than you want to. Or maybe they have made comments about the amount you are drinking. Do you drink in front of the kids every day? Are you always the one who needs a drink to socialise, concentrate, cook dinner or change from work to home life?
If you know you are drinking large amounts and it has been going on for a long time, you should not stop drinking immediately; rather, you should aim to reduce your alcohol intake slowly. You should also consult your doctor, as excess alcohol over a long time can cause serious health problems so you may need blood tests, medication and monitoring.
Now ask yourself that important question; does alcohol reduce stress and help me relax? Is it the long-term solution?
From my experience, the big problem is that you feel uninspired, maybe out of control and stuck, but you want something to change.
But the obstacle has always been that you don’t know where to start, and you don’t know how to relax.
What are the solutions?
There are lots of ways you can take back control.
You already know that you are using alcohol to reduce stress and relax, but I wonder what other reasons you might be using it.
If you need help, there is lots of help available.
- See your doctor and get a health check.
- Get support from friends and family.
- Talk to a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist.
- Do some exercise regularly.
- Take up hobbies or fun things that will also help you to relax.
- Find other relaxation ways, such as massage, complementary therapies, artwork, and music.
- Deal with any underlying problems.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Manage your time better and delegate.
- Contact a hypnotherapist.
If you are a heavy drinker and believe you are an alcoholic, you may need additional specialist help, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). You can also contact their free helpline to find out more.
Hi, I’m Linda from Awaken the Change. I help people to let go of stress, relax and enjoy life again. I use hypnotherapy, counselling and coaching. I you want to stop that after-work habit of drinking to relax, I can help. Contact me for a free initial consultation and find out more.