This week is a week for everyone to think about alcohol. How much alcohol you consume and the health risks involved with doing so. From the start of 2020, it’s been a difficult year for all – so it makes sense for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week’s theme to be centered on mental health.
We’re supporting Alcohol Awareness Week by opening a dialogue and promoting change for a healthier life.
What’s the issue with alcohol?
For most people, alcohol is associated with having a good time, socialising with friends and celebrating good news. However, for some it can also be a way of switching off and forgetting about their woes.
Alcohol can negatively disturb our brains delicate balance of chemicals and processes. Too much consumption can result in serious physical health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and cancer.
In line with year’s theme, alcohol can also exacerbate mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, memory loss, and in some instances can potentially lead to suicide…
Stress and drinking
“I’ve had a bad day… fancy a drink?” We’ve all been there but when it comes to easing our stress levels having a drink is a deceptive short-term fix. Drinking alcohol causes your brain and central nervous system function differently. Alcohol controls our inhibition which is why after a drink or two we often begin to feel less anxious and more confident.
In the short-term, alcohol helps people feel more relaxed but in excess it can act as a distraction from what’s going on, with the possibility of harvesting more negative long-term issues.
Drinking and anxiety
Not only can alcohol leave us feeling anxious whilst drinking – has someone given me a strange look? Am I too drunk? How do I get home? But it’s also a common to feel anxious on the subsequent days after drinking. To reduce any negative psychological feelings, try relaxation methods such as meditation or yoga, get out and exercise or try some breathing techniques.
Drinking and depression
Drinking both heavily and regularly can also be associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate the cause and effect. What we do know is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood. Studies show that depression can follow heavy drinking and that reducing or stopping can improve mood and over time, stop depression.
It’s incredibly unfortunate, that in some instances, alcohol has the ability to cause people to lose their inhibitions and behave impulsively, leading them to take actions they wouldn’t necessarily have taken – including self-harm and suicide. Research shows a strong correlation between chronic-drinking and suicidal thoughts, attempts, and death from suicide.
With Covid 19 completely transforming the way we socialise, work and communicate it’s only natural that some of us may have coped a little better with a few extra cheeky glasses of wine during lockdown. Of course, this is normal and most likely; many people across the UK and globally have been doing the same. If you are however, interested in getting a little healthier before Christmas… keep reading!
Are you a healthcare professional looking for a new role, or simply needing some advice about careers with the NHS? Just hit the link below to chat to us on WhatsApp – our teams are on hand to help!
How to stay in control?
Reducing or taking more control of your drinking depends on what your goal is, and the best approach is dependant on your personality type.
Your drinking goal should always be based on what’s best for your long-term health, as well as what’s best for you, your family, friends and other aspects of your life.
- I just want to drink on the weekends
- I want to lower my weekly intake to a healthy amounts
- I want to be able to drink socially without getting drunk
- I only want to drink socially
- I want to only drink twice a month, without bingeing
There are plenty of online resources to support lifestyle changes. In the meantime, here are some immediate steps you may want to take:
- Keep an alcohol diary to assess your intake
- Purchase alcohol in small, measured amounts
- Prepare yourself for peer pressure
- Discover healthier alternatives
2020 has been a tough one for us all. Recent stats have revealed that on average, 29.2 million people in the UK will be drinking in the week – it’s time to take steps towards a better, healthier lifestyle, by reducing your alcohol intake. If you’re an individual who would like help with reducing or stopping drinking completely, reach out to the above charities and remember, give support and get support!