Stress is part of life and, in some instances, can be healthy! Healthy stress includes a deadline for work or school projects, which can have the same effect as physical stressors, such as exercise! This stress can help us focus and push us to reach our goals.
This is very different from unhealthy or chronic stress, where the body and mind begin to wear and can lead to chronic fatigue, lost interest in hobbies, and physical aches and pains. To cope, some individuals come home and have a drink.
Known as stress drinking, this form of drinking can lead to other issues down the road if left unchecked.
The Link Between Stress & Alcohol
Why do individuals drink when they are under stress? When we drink, our brain releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.
Drinking may lead to positive feelings during times of stress, but it is a short-term solution. Stress drinking can worsen mental and physical health over time and lead to alcohol dependence. It is also more likely to lead to problem drinking than social drinking.
Individuals should be concerned with stress drinking when the following occurs:
When It Interferes With Daily Life
We should be concerned about stress and drinking when it begins to interfere with everyday life. This can include interpersonal relationships, work, or even legal and financial issues. These symptoms are common in substance use disorders.
Yourself Or A Loved One Has A Substance Use Disorder
If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, stress drinking can hinder recovery. Sober individuals can find themselves with a reoccurence if they drink to handle stress from daily life or withdrawal symptoms.
Find Healthy Ways To Cope With & Manage Stress
When you or a loved one finds yourself stuck in the cycle of chronic stress, and are tempted to drink, find healthy ways to cope with and manage stress. Tactics can include:
Slowing Down & Taking Time For Ourselves
Take the time to slow down and do something you enjoy or find relaxing, such as reading or playing a game. Sometimes, we need “me” time to unwind and focus on the things we love. You’d be surprised at how therapeutic it can be!
Talking With Family & Friends
Talking with family and friends about stress in life is a great way to decompress and voice concerns. If you are the parent of a teen, talking to them about alcohol will help them understand the dangers and help them make healthy decisions.
If a family member is coming to you with concerns about stress and drinking, actively listen and offer support.
Taking Time To Think About What We Can & Cannot Change
We can change many things in our lives that lead to stress. For example, if dirty dishes in the sink stresses us out, we can change that by remembering to do the dishes as they are put into the sink or dishwasher.
For things we cannot change, like being stuck in traffic due to an accident, we can take slow, deep breaths and remember that it is a situation that is beyond our control. We can always check the traffic before we leave home or work and download music and podcasts to entertain us on the road.
Practicing Healthy Habits
Healthy habits like getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and getting good nutrition are great ways to help reduce and cope with stress. Exercise is also a healthy way to relieve stress! Instead of reaching a drink, take a walk around the block.
Reach Out To PreventEd For Professional Guidance & Resources
PreventEd is a leader in the field of substance and alcohol use prevention programs. Since our inception in 1965, we have reached thousands of individuals through community programs, counseling referral services, and advocacy.
If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, reach out to a PreventEd counselor today. We are ready to answer your questions and guide you to the help you need.