‘The Fear’ – How Alcohol Can Affect Anxiety

Just like our physical health we need to keep on top of our mental health. Meeting up with friends and family is a terrific way to keep social and talk about everyday stressors. However, some ways in which we socialise in Ireland can revolve around alcohol. The Drinkaware Barometer 2022 found that 42% of Irish adults drink alcohol to help unwind and relax. In the short term, we think it will help our nerves, relaxes us, and loosens us up. When really, it only makes the anxiety and the root cause of the issue worse. ‘The Fear’, is a social term used in Ireland to describe the feelings of anxiety the day after drinking. But why do we feel anxious after drinking alcohol? Let’s explore how alcohol can affect anxiety.

How Can Alcohol Affect Anxiety?

Alcohol is an anxiolytic. What this means is, temporarily, alcohol will reduce feelings of anxiety. However, it will also reduce awareness, decision making and impairs judgement. After the effects of alcohol have worn off, your anxiety is heightened. Socially, in Ireland we call this ‘The Fear.’  

When we drink alcohol, we are feeding anxiety. We are not dealing with the root cause of the anxiety. This is no to say that alcohol is the main cause of a person’s anxiety, but it does contribute to making symptoms of anxiety worse. Learn more about how alcohol can affect your mental health.

The Next Steps

We know cutting back or out alcohol isn’t always easy. In Ireland, so many of our social gathering are surrounded by alcohol. Whether you’re at a party, or a family gathering, so many of these occasions have alcohol at them. This can make it more difficult say no. It is important to build resilience and coping skills. See our tips below to help you establish a goal, build routine and smash your goals.

Set a Goal

If your goal is to cut down or out alcohol, great! How are you going to do this?  

Ask Yourself, Why?

Why do you want to cut down or out alcohol? There is no wrong answer. Whatever your reason, they are valid and you don’t have to explain them to anyone. Know your reasons and remind yourself of them.

Set Yourself a Limit

Either set yourself a limit on how much you are going to spend or set yourself a drinks limit. This allows you still have a drink if you want one, but you have a limit. This will help you reach your goal. Learning what the low risk weekly guidelines and using our drink calculator will help you stick to your limit.  

Talk to Your Family and Friends

Having support from your friends and family will help you achieve your goals.  When you share your goals with the people you love and who love you they will want to see you succeed. Even if they don’t fully understand why you are cutting back or out alcohol they will want to support you.

Try New Things

Small changes in your lifestyle will help. If you go out twice a week to catch up with friends and you drink on both of these nights, why not make one of those nights a sober night? Try some alcohol free alternatives. Try asking your friends if they would be interested in trying a new activities. Going for a walk, try a yoga session (there are so many great free ones on YouTube). and check out our blog on how to have a sober night out.

Build a Routine

Creating a daily routine is going to have positive impacts on your day. Whether that is establishing a wake up/ bed time, planning your weekly meals or simply spending 15 minutes at the end of each day to tidy your space is going to help you feel less stressed. Small, and steady changes are much more effective than big, sudden drastic ones.  

Always remember to be kind to yourself, even if you slip up and make mistakes. You can always pick up from where you left off.