Let’s talk about how regular drinking to improve your mood can affect your mental health in the long term.

Do You Drink to Relax?

Before Drinking

If you are feeling low or anxious, alcohol seems like an easy solution. It is in a way!

Alcohol is a depressant – it slows your heartrate and breathing down and alters your mood. Knowing that alcohol is an option may make it easier for you to choose it over other healthy ways for you to relax – like physical exercise, taking time to rest, creating meaningful relationships.

Why would you choose alcohol over these things, you ask? Because it’s quicker and requires no effort! In the long run though, you may see that you have no other coping mechanisms, and you need more and more alcohol to manage your mood.

TIP: Before having a drink due to your low mood or anxiety, commit to doing something that will give you that feel-good factor, but does not involve alcohol. This will help you build a set of healthy coping mechanisms and reduce your drinking.

During Drinking

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which may feel great during drinking, but you may regret after.

Alcohol makes it harder for the prefrontal cortex to work as it should, disrupting decision-making and rational thought. Alcohol prompts you to act without thinking about your actions, which may increase your confidence.

However, it also increases the chance of you breaking promises to yourself, like maintaining your healthy routine, not messaging your ex, or perhaps you wanted to only stay for two drinks and it’s 5 am.

Breaking promises to yourself can make you feel disappointed with yourself and more likely to feel that you are not capable of rebalancing your relationships or routine again.

TIP: Talk to the people you trust, let them know your goals and ask them to help make sure you stick to them – whether it’s a check-in call at the hour before you plan to go home, or booking you a taxi at a set hour.

After Drinking

Your mental health may be even worse than what it was in the beginning!

After all the alterations that alcohol made in your brain, your body will start working extra hard to get back to its’ balance by speeding up all the processes that alcohol slowed down. This may make you feel very anxious, in fact, more anxious than before you decided to have that drink and relax.

You may feel hopeless, low, stressed and paranoid. You may feel like you are not only where you started, but a few steps behind.

TIP: Take this opportunity to make it up to your body and mind – nourish yourself with plenty of rest, nutritious food, a self-care routine. Remember, ‘hangover anxiety’ is temporary, it WILL go away. This is a chance for you to take care of yourself and work on building healthier ways of coping in the future.

Best of luck!

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