When we are stressed alcohol can help take the edge off. It’s considered a depressant because it acts to slow down our central nervous system which makes us feel more relaxed mentally and physically.
Alcohol can absolutely be a part of a balanced diet and lifestyle— the key is keeping it in balance. This is more challenging when we are feeling significant mental and physical stress. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of such a time; we are all facing significant stress right now which makes us all vulnerable to overconsuming alcohol. When a glass of wine or a couple beers on a normal day would be satisfying, during stressful times, that consumption may slowly start to increase without you even realizing it.
No one ever sets out to overconsume it just gradually starts to happen because at a subconscious level we want to feel relaxed and happy. Unfortunately, excess alcohol consumption ends up creating more problems. Since it slows down our central nervous system it means it slows down brain activity and that is why our judgement becomes impaired, affecting our thought process and our behaviour.
Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking more and regretted your behaviour? I think most of us who drink alcohol can think of a few experiences we would choose to erase from our memory. If consumption increases, these regrettable situations may start to build up, which creates even more issues to deal with, essentially undoing any of the relaxed and happy feelings we were looking for.
In addition to affecting our judgement, alcohol also increases blood pressure which can be an issue at the moment while under stress as our blood pressure may be running higher than normal. Further, we may not even be aware of this as many of us don’t even know our blood pressure is high because we don’t feel any different.
I am not trying to scare you, I simply want to keep you healthy and most of all happy and therefore I want to give you information to assess your current consumption so that you don’t end up going down a path you will regret later. I have been a dietitian for over 20 years and it simply breaks my heart when I listen to stories of the chaos excessive alcohol consumption causes in peoples lives and those closest to them. From excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, liver disease, problems in relationships, failed relationships, problems at work, financial struggles and—I’ve seen them all.
So how can you keep your alcohol consumption in check? Here are some simple tips:
- Be mindful of how much you are drinking. Set a boundary for yourself and stick to it. One standard drink for women and two for men per day can be a part of a balanced lifestyle. This is a general guideline and your specific health and weight goals may mean less for you. We are happy to help you figure out that balance.
- Reflect daily. Doing a daily reflection is important to be aware of how you are behaving. Checking in to rate your energy, mood, asses how much you sleep, how you eat, how much alcohol you drink, water intake, exercise are all important to understand your physical and mental health and how your behaviours are affecting how you feel. My Viva Plan® members can do this virtually in the daily reflection section.
- Talk to someone. Now more than ever we need to ensure we are staying connected with friends and family for support. If you are looking for professional support, you can book a virtual appointment with your family doctor or any of our registered dietitians or our psychologist.
- Exercise. I know the kids may be driving you nutty, being stuck at home is feeling overwhelming, money is an issue and that all of this feels out of our control. I get it, I am experiencing it too. So, I exercise. It helps keep my anxiety in check, helps me work out my frustration and calms me down.
- Find something fun to do. Play a game, do a puzzle, read a book, work on a hobby or find a new one to do. All of these are forms of meditation and help to calm our mind down.
- Eat balanced. Alcohol can not replace your nutrients found in a balanced diet, so choosing to eat less to compensate for the extra calories in your drink also isn’t a good formula.
I genuinely care about each of you. I want you to be healthy and happy, but that means having to do the hard work and get engaged in your health. No one else can do this for you but we are here to help when you are ready!
CEO & Registered Dietitian
Revive Wellness | My Viva Inc.