22nd March 2023

Alcohol – Does it Cure Stress?  

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Have you had a bad day at work?

Children been a pain?

Work getting too much?    Just fed up?

Give yourself a treat – just a small glass of wine – it won’t harm me?

Research has found that three in five (62%) in Britain use alcohol to relax and unwind in the evenings, and that 44% are more likely to drink alcohol after a stressful day.

Stress relieving habits
Often a glass of wine can be the signal that ‘chilling time’ has begun after a long day for many people. “A lot of people I know drink after work,” says Rick Morris, a risk strategy analyst working in the City in London. “Drinking is how many people blow off steam after a long day. I would find it difficult to relax in the evening without a drink or two. I find it quite easy to go a bit overboard though, and having a hangover the next day can send my stress levels shooting upwards.”

Interestingly, it is not just demanding jobs that make people reach for the bottle. A poll of 3,000 mothers by the parenting website Netmums found that half drank at home at least three or four nights a week. More than eight out of 10 of these mums said they drank to relieve stress.

The founder of Netmums, Siobhan Freegard said “being a mum is really hard work – you have so much on your plate, juggling kids alongside jobs and other responsibilities like elderly parents. What I hear a lot is ‘I don’t have time to do two hours yoga each evening to wind down – alcohol is much easier”. “For many a glass of wine in the evening is the demarcation between ‘being mum’ and “adult time.”

Adverse effects
This is when a drink after a hard day turns into a regular stress-relieving habit, could lead to many problems. Alcohol does make you feel more relaxed in the short term, but it is useful to remember what the government’s daily unit guidelines are 3-4 units for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 for women (equivalent to a 175ml glass of 13% wine).

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down the brain and the central nervous system’s processes and this could actually end up exacerbating your stress.

The guidelines for adults is as follows:

Men are now advised to drink no more than 14 units per week to keep their health risks at a low level and it is the same level advised for women.  14 units are equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses (125 mls) of low-strength wine.

It is good to spread the amount of alcohol consumed over 3 days or more.

The guidelines advise as well that a good way to reduce alcohol intake is to have several alcohol-free days a week.

More information https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx

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