Healthy Tahoe: Un-wine to better ways of coping with daily stress
While it’s common to joke about wine drinking culture, relying on alcohol to cope with family demands and work stress is no laughing matter.
Drinking a glass of wine can provide relaxation and enjoyment at first, because alcohol affects neurotransmitters such as dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter). However, alcohol has a disruptive effect as your body breaks it down, so unwinding with a glass at night might result in fragmented sleep and frequent waking. Lack of good sleep may make you tired and irritable the next day, fueling daily stressors.
With a lack of healthy coping mechanisms, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are not uncommon among people who use alcohol to handle stress.
If you’re struggling to keep your sanity, take a deep breath and run through this checklist:
How am I treating my body? Physical activity, even just a few minutes a day, is a great stress buster. Meet up with a friend for a 30-minute walk after work. The social connection and fresh air can relieve stress before you get home. During or after dinner, try a cup of decaffeinated tea — many offer soothing qualities.
Am I making my mental health a priority? Indulge in self-care with a warm bath or night out with friends. If you socialize over drinks, try swapping out your cocktail for a mocktail instead — enjoy the fun flavors of a beverage and distraction of having a drink in hand, without the adverse effects of alcohol.
Do I need help? Whether it’s sadness you can’t shake or a persistent urge to drink, talk with your health care provider to find the treatment best for you.
Next time you reach for that glass of wine, consider alternatives that build long-term relief. Your body will thank you.
May is Mental Health Awareness onth. Dr. Erin Jones is a board-certified physician with Barton Family Medicine. Talk to your primary care provider about habits that affect your health. Visit BartonHealth.org/PrimaryCare for a list of Barton Health’s primary care offices.
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