Feeling stressed? Anxious? Bad day at work? Need a break? Have a drink – it’ll help, right? Well no actually. In fact the opposite is true – alcohol has a significant impact on mental health and how we feel in general, often making existing problems worse while contributing to the development of new ones. It’s no secret that Irish adults are becoming more health conscious. As a result, we’re starting to think more about where our drinking habits fit in to this new norm – 24% feel they are likely to experience future health problems if they continue drinking at their current levels.
WHY DO PEOPLE DRINK ALCOHOL?
As you might expect, there are too many reasons to list here but the Drinkaware Index 2019 offers some unique insights to explore about the drinking habits of Irish adults. Unsurprisingly, the research found that the most common motivations for drinking are for social (e.g. to make gatherings more fun) or enhancement (e.g. to get a buzz) reasons. However, the report also revealed a concerning level of Irish adults who drink alcohol as a coping mechanism. These motivations include ‘to cheer you up when you are in a bad mood or stressed’ and ‘to forget about your problems’. The fact that these are self-reported reasons shows the commonly held misconceptions that alcohol can be used to help overcome issues, to help a person to fit in more or simply to relax.
WAYS TO WIND DOWN WITHOUT ALCOHOL
As the mindful drinking movement gains momentum in Ireland, a common question we’re asked is how to unwind after a long day without alcohol. Here are five ways you can try.
DITCH THE POST-WORK PINTS
If drinks after work are happening more regularly or you’re finding it harder to get up in the morning after midweek nights out, it could be time to make a change. Remember that it’s okay to say no if you feel like giving it a miss for a few weeks but if you do go out, why not have a non-alcoholic drink? There are plenty of no-alcohol beers, wine and spirits to choose from.
GET OUT AND GET ACTIVE
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress or unwind after a long day. Go outside. Practice yoga. Go walking or running. Hit the gym. Whatever you do, you’ll feel energised and it’ll help to clear your head with none of the impacts of having a drink.
READ A BOOK OR LISTEN TO A PODCAST
We all know that finding the time to settle in with a good book can be tricky but there’s nothing like it to while away a relaxing evening. On the move but still need some down time? Downloading your favourite podcast or an audiobook could be just the thing.
TALK TO A FRIEND
Spending time with friends can be relaxing and give your mental health a welcome boost. Taking the time to check in on friends and catch up over the phone or over a cup of tea will leave you feeling that bit more relaxed and happier.
START A DIARY
This can help to keep track of how you are feeling over time and it’s a healthy way to record both your positive and negative emotions. Write what you are grateful for, talk about your day and just empty your head.